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Playing cards have been with us since the 14th century, when they first entered popular culture. Over the centuries packs of cards, in all shapes and sizes, have been used for games, gambling, education, conjuring, advertising, fortune telling, political messages or the portrayal of national or ethnic identity. All over the world, whatever language is spoken, their significance is universal. Their popularity is also due to the imaginative artwork and graphic design which is sometimes overlooked, and the “then & now” of how things have changed.

Japanese Kurofuda 黑札

The name means “Black cards”, which is especially true of you look at the suit of batons. The horse's legs can be recognised on the Cavaliers.

The name means “Black cards”, which is especially true if you look at the suit of batons. Whilst the designs may appear incomprehensible at first, resemblance to their 16th century Spanish/Portuguese originals is evident. The horse's legs can be recognised on the Cavalier in the top row. The swords retain some recognisable form, handles, etc. The cups are more bulbous and round than those of Akahachi. Unlike Akahachi, the large blobs of colour on the cards are actually applied over printed outlines, which are visible if you look hard at them and in some blank spots. The blobs on each card are of a unique shape and so, presumably, this feature is used by players to identify them. Images and notes courtesy Anthony Lee (visit his blog).

Above: Japanese 'Kurofuda' [ 黑札 ] made by Nintendo, 48 + 2 extra cards. Images and notes courtesy Anthony Lee (visit his blog).

See also: KabufudaAkahachiMefuda.

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

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Curator and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996.

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Japanese Kurofuda 黑札

Japanese Kurofuda 黑札

The name means “Black cards”, which is especially true of you look at the suit of batons. The horse's legs can be recognised on the Cavaliers.

Akahachi

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