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A History of Playing Cards - Essay Example

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Card games were believed to have originated from the Fareast. In particular, Chinese Emperor Mu-tsung first played a Chinese version of the dominoes with his wife in 969 ("The Introduction of Playing-Cards to Europe"). The first version of the dominoes was unlike the western style of playing where the blocks are lined up to correspond to similar number combinations…
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A History of Playing Cards
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Download file to see previous pages Henceforth, different games were invented and the manner of playing cards evolved.
In European context, the origins of playing card were thought to have come from Egypt near Mameluks. The fragments found believed to be from the 1400, consisted of 52 cards with "suits of swords, polo-sticks, cups, and coins." Each suit was composed of cards numbered 1 to 10 while three of the court cards included "malik (king), na'ib malik (Viceroy or Deputy-King), and thani na'ib (Second Under-Deputy)." When compared to early Italian cards, they appeared to be similar. Some early names given to European court cards include naibbe (Italian) and naipes (Spanish)("The Introduction of Playing-Cards to Europe").
The early Chinese playing cards were made from paper and had suits drawn with coins and strings of coins. To Mah Jong players, these are the circles and bamboo figures found in the tablets. Islam introduced cups and swords to the suit without any human figures. This could be explained by the prohibition of Islam from using representations of humans in artworks or printed material.
The French were credited for designing the court personages in each suit. The King of Hearts represented Charlemagne; Julius Caesar was the king of Diamonds; Alexander the Great was the king of Clubs while King David from the Bible was identified as the King of Spades (The United States Playing Card Company). These were still used in contemporary playing cards.
In the 19th century Europe, the playing card faces were transformed into mini-canvasses as many artists executed prominent figures culled from history and literature. This was referred to the 19th century phenomenon of transformation cards (The International Playing-Cards Society). The cards were an innovative form of art but were totally unusable for playing games. England was a laggard and followed the trend at a later period. The English continued to cling to traditional designs despite the developments in other parts of Europe.
The Americans were credited to have invented the Joker. From the French design, the Americans in the 1800's introduced innovations to the playing card. The Americans began using "double-headed court cards for convenience and avoiding the act of turning the card right side up. The surfaces were varnished for easy shuffling and sturdier to endure wear and tear from frequent playing. The corners were rounded to avoid corner tears and identifying marks were added to the corners of each card (The United States Playing Card Company). The backs of the cards were used as promotional vehicles and sometimes depicted with famous landmarks or trends popular at a particular period. Russell and Morgan were the pioneers in the manufacture of playing cards. The Bicycle brand was born out of the popularity of the two-wheeled transportation in 1887. The company debuted with Rider Back (The United States Playing Card Company). From being an exclusive entertainment for the rich and imperial courts, card games had since evolved for ordinary people to enjoy.
Social Function of Card Games
When card games were introduced in medieval Europe, a royal card party was frequently played in circular tables. In the 15th century, the site of play was a circular table ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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