31 May 2016

Traditional Ganjifa playing cards are round

The video offers glimpses of a dying traditional art form - the creation of handcrafted round playing cards.
Ganjifa, Ganjapa or Gânjaphâ, is a card game or type of playing cards that are most associated with Persia and India... Ganjifa cards are circular or rectangular, and traditionally hand-painted by artisans. The game became popular at the Mughal court, and lavish sets were made, from materials such as precious stone-inlaid ivory or tortoise shell (darbar kalam). The game later spread to the general public, whereupon cheaper sets (bazâr kalam) would be made from materials such as wood, palm leaf, stiffened cloth or pasteboard. Typically Ganjifa cards have coloured backgrounds, with each suit having a different colour. Different types exist, and the designs, number of suits, and physical size of the cards can vary considerably. With the exception of Mamluk Kanjifa and the Chads of Mysore, each suit contains ten pip cards and two court cards, the king and the vizier or minister.

1 comment:

  1. One area where I take issue with Wikipedia is the "exception" for Mamluk Kanjifa. In fact, the Mamluk cards are the direct ancestor of European playing cards, and just because they contain the *word* Kanjifah doesn't justify lumping them together with Indian Ganjifa.

    There is currently a kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sunishchabba/guru-ganjifa-playing-cards-from-historyrevisited to produce a new printed Ganjifa deck and thereby raise awareness of the traditional art, but at this point it looks doomed to fail. At the time of writing, it has only raised $3500 (Australian), whereas to be on track to succeed it should be raising money at about three times that rate. However, if readers would like to add their support it's not too late, as there are still twenty days remaining.

    I have insider information about this project, as I was contacted by the creator and have been helping out on a volunteer basis (e.g. by suggesting editorial changes to the rulebook). So I might be able to answer some questions depending on what the questions are. There are at least two other mass-produced adaptations of Ganjifa on the market, but the above project improves on them in several important respects (as well as being a different type of Ganjifa).


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