The World of Playing Cards Logo
Published July 25, 2014 Updated June 05, 2022

Maya

“Maya” playing cards designed by Russian artist V. M. Sveshnikov and first published by The Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg, in 1975.

1975 Russia Colour Printing Plant Sveshnikov Amerindian Add to Collection

Russian “Maya” playing cards

“Maya” playing cards were designed by Russian artist V. M. Sveshnikov and first published by The Colour Printing Plant, St Petersburg, in 1975. The Russian connection to Mayan art stems from when Russian linguist Yuri Knorosov helped crack the code of the Maya glyphs. The intricate designs are inspired by ancient Mayan iconography found in original Mayan artworks from Mexico. The artist's attention to detail also includes the Tzolkin Calendar glyphs on each side of the cards.

The Maya civilization (AD 300-900) was one of the most sophisticated in pre-Columbian America and extended from Mexico across Guatemala, Belize and the western parts of Honduras and El Salvador. Mayan body art, including piercings and sacrificial blood letting, makes today's tattoos and studs seem harmless!

Russian “Maya” playing cards first published in 1975

Above: Russian “Maya” playing cards, 52 cards + 2 Jokers. The designs were re-printed in 2012 as "Mayan Cards" with larger European indices and border frames by a Chinese manufacturer.


Detale de una página del códice Trocortesiano

Above: detail from an astronomical passage in the Códice Trocortesiano, XVI century. MUSEO DE AMÉRICA   more

avatar
773 Articles

By Rex Pitts (1940-2021)

Member since January 30, 2009

Rex's main interest was in card games, because, he said, they were cheap and easy to get hold of in his early days of collecting. He is well known for his extensive knowledge of Pepys games and his book is on the bookshelves of many.

His other interest was non-standard playing cards. He also had collections of sheet music, music CDs, models of London buses, London Transport timetables and maps and other objects that intrigued him.

Rex had a chequered career at school. He was expelled twice, on one occasion for smoking! Despite this he trained as a radio engineer and worked for the BBC in the World Service.

Later he moved into sales and worked for a firm that made all kinds of packaging, a job he enjoyed until his retirement. He became an expert on boxes and would always investigate those that held his cards. He could always recognize a box made for Pepys, which were the same as those of Alf Cooke’s Universal Playing Card Company, who printed the card games. This interest changed into an ability to make and mend boxes, which he did with great dexterity. He loved this kind of handicraft work.

His dexterity of hand and eye soon led to his making card games of his own design. He spent hours and hours carefully cutting them out and colouring them by hand.


Related Articles

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

Woodblock and Stencil Jack of Hearts

A limited edition art print of the Jack of Hearts 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

Woodblock and Stencil Joker

A limited edition art print of the 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

Woodblock and Stencil Queen of Clubs

A limited edition art print of the Queen of Clubs 1984 woodblock joker.

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

Woodblock and Stencil King of Diamonds

A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.

1978 Wedding of Krechinsky • Свадьба Кречинского

Wedding of Krechinsky • Свадьба Кречинского

A pack of cards depicting characters from the famous play "The Wedding of Krechinsky" by Sukhovo-Kob...

2017 Russian folk art playing cards

Russian folk art playing cards

Russian folk art playing cards produced by Natalia Silva, USA, 2017.

2015 Branle playing cards

Branle playing cards

‘Branle’ playing cards inspired by a 12th-century dance, produced by Noir Arts, USA, 2015.

2015 Mardi Gras playing cards

Mardi Gras playing cards

Mardi Gras playing cards illustrated by Dave Edgerly, USA, 2015

2015 Aztec Codex playing cards

Aztec Codex playing cards

Aztec Codex playing cards illustrated by Emmanuel Valtierra, USA, ©2015.

2015 Malam playing cards

Malam playing cards

Malam playing cards created by Michael Muldoon, USA, 2015.

2005 Theatre of Pain / Teatr Boli

Theatre of Pain / Teatr Boli

Theatre of Pain / Teatr boli playing cards depicting politicians and leaders in the Caucasus territo...

2000 CCCP playing cards

CCCP playing cards

Soviet and other Communist celebrities depicted on every card, designed by Vladislav Pankevitch.

1992 Pacific Northwest native Indian masks

Pacific Northwest native Indian masks

Pacific Northwest native Indian masks with artwork by Margaret Parrott, USA, 1992.

2018 Russian criminal tattoos and playing cards

Russian criminal tattoos and playing cards

Russian criminal tattoos and playing cards, United Kingdom, 2018.

2002 World of the New Russians

World of the New Russians

‘World of the New Russians’ (Mir novykh russkikh) satirical playing cards, 2002.

2003 C-Arts

C-Arts

Collective Arts pack designed by sixty-three collaborating artists, illustrators and designers, Russ...

2002 Ministry of Emergency Situations

Ministry of Emergency Situations

Emergency response playing cards published by the Kombinat Tsvetnoi Pechati (Colour Printing Combine...

2000 Castle Rock Club

Castle Rock Club

Castle Rock Club playing cards featuring Russian rock stars and musicians, c. 2000.

Treasures of the Hermitage / Shedevry Ermitazha

Treasures of the Hermitage / Shedevry Ermitazha

‘Treasures of the Hermitage Museum’ souvenir playing cards (‘Shedevry Ermitazha’), Russia.

2005 Trading Mart

Trading Mart

‘Trading Mart’ playing cards published by RusJoker, St Petersburg, 2005.

2021 History of the Russian Revolution

History of the Russian Revolution

A pack of playing cards about the Russian Revolution, USA, c. 2021.

Russian Playing Card History - From the Beginnings to 1917

Russian Playing Card History - From the Beginnings to 1917

An in-depth review of the history of card-playing, gambling, legislation, manufacture and taxation o...

1798 Russian Playing Card Monopoly

Russian Playing Card Monopoly

The Russian Playing Card Monopoly was established in March 1798 with all revenue going to support th...

1943 Anti-Fascist cards, 1943

Anti-Fascist cards, 1943

Satirical Anti-Fascist cards designed in 1943 by Ivan Ivanovich Kharkevich.

Russian Playing Cards

Russian Playing Cards

Playing cards were known in Muscovy as early as the last quarter of the sixteenth century.

2001 GAI GIBDD

GAI GIBDD

The State Automobile Inspection of Russian Federal Road Safety Service.

1997 Petrovskie

Petrovskie

Petrovskie, politicheskie karty Rossii (Russian political cards), 1997.

2013 Moscow Poker

Moscow Poker

“Moscow” - from the Soviet series produced by Sprint, Ivanovo, 2013.

2001 Detskie

Detskie

‘Detskie’ children’s cards produced in Russia, 2001.

2001 Soldaty Udachi

Soldaty Udachi

“Soldaty Udachi” (Soldiers of Fortune) Army and Police humour playing cards, Russia, 2001.

1997 Karty Derzhavnye

Karty Derzhavnye

Karty Derzhavnye (Sovereign cards) with artwork by S. Zaitsev, Russia, 1997.

Karty Lyubvi

Karty Lyubvi

Karty lyubvi Slavyanskie (Slavonic love cards) and Karty lyubvi Starinnye (Ancient love cards).

Russian Dumpling Club

Russian Dumpling Club

Russkii Pel'mennyi Klub (Russian Dumpling Club) playing cards designed by Evgenia Alexandrovna Belya...

2005 Fabergé playing cards

Fabergé playing cards

Kollektsiya Faberzhe karty igral’nye (Fabergé playing cards), Russia, 2005.

2005 Sea Myths Playing Cards

Sea Myths Playing Cards

Morskie mify (Sea myths) designed by Lev Liberman, Russia, 2005.

2005 Centaurus

Centaurus

Centaurus: karty igral’nye suvenirnye, Russia, 2005.

2005 Kashmir Playing Cards

Kashmir Playing Cards

Kashmir playing cards designed by Lev Liberman and printed by Printissa, Saint Petersburg, 2005.

Saint Petersburg vintage playing cards

Saint Petersburg vintage playing cards

Saint Petersburg vintage photography playing cards.

1998 Madam Luck

Madam Luck

“Madam Luck” playing cards designed by B. Adziev, 1998.

1997 Novosibirsk Fair

Novosibirsk Fair

Novosibirsk Fair playing cards designed by Sergei A. Grebennikov, Russia, 1997.

2000 Kolotushki

Kolotushki

Kolotushki playing cards designed by Vitalii Buslovskikh, Russia, 2000.

1984 Lubok playing cards

Lubok playing cards

Lubok playing cards designed by Victor M. Sveshnikov. Russia, 1984.

Soviet propaganda posters

Soviet propaganda posters

Propaganda posters of the Soviet Union.

2000 Russian Federation

Russian Federation

Russian Federation pack featuring leading political figures of the time, c.2000.