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1381 Old Painted Ganjifa Playing Cards

Group of Dashavatara Ganjifa Playing Cards with gold illumination from Andhra Pradesh


Inscription language appears to be Telugu

Stiffened & Lacquered with a thick layer of laquer that makes it hard-plastic-like.

Note the crackling on the lacquer - that reveals the serious level of thickness of the lacquer

Note the gold warak of extraordinary quality under the lacquer.

Note the 3-D quality of the paint underneath - that gives an embossed effect and reveals contours on the faces and bodies of the characters.

The base is probably layered handmade paper.

The photos of the individual cards have been taken at two angles to reveal the lustrous gold. The Warak or metal leaf in all likelihood has precious metal (gold or silver) content.

Has inscriptions on the Court or Face Cards.

Each region in the country had its own form of the game. There was the Sawantwadi Ganjifa from Maharashtra, Navadurga Ganjifa from Orrisa, Rajasthan and Gujarat Ganjifa, Kashmir Ganjifa, Nepal Ganjifa and the Mysooru Ganjifa which was greatly patronized by the Mysore Royal family during their reign.

This set appears to be from the Mysore group.

 [The Jayalakhmi Wodeyar Palace Museum has one group of 150 dispersed cards that are kept in the treasury and viewing is by prior request only.]

Collected from India in the mid 1900s / Acquired from a US auction house

Totally 120 cards (10 suits, 12 of each suit)

Age unknown.

Most cards are in very good condition - but a few have minor defects. In the Green Axe suit the painting on one card  is damaged - and an extra card has been provided as a substitute. In the Ochre (pig) card set, two cards (number 3 and number 8) have a slightly different appearance compared to the rest of the pig set. In the green Hanuman cards there are some dark spots present. They were mounted previously and have now been dismounted - so they have signs of glue / shellac used for mounting on the back of the cards.

 It would be facetious to say that this is the only such set in the world.... but finding the others will definitely be hard.

More photos on request.






This item has spent a lifetime being used for the purpose of its creation with the original artist/user. Signs of this life lived heartily may be present on the piece in the form of stains, thread loss, loose threads, holes, tears, color run and other imperfections. Therefore the condition must be assumed to be “not” perfect. More photos of such imperfections will be provided on request.


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