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1383-A Group of Antique Lacquered Ganjifa Playing Cards

OUTSTANDING Group of four Ganjifa Playing Cards with gold illumination

Includes  PIP cards with a red base and gold figures

Unusual uncommon never-seen-before shine that may be attributed to the use of iridescent paint or the use of a layer of warak beneath the paint.

Thick layer of Stiffened Lacquer

Handmade paper

Detailed Paintings with Gold Illumination. The back has borders painted too.

From Mysore  or Andhra  - Part of the Dashavatara card style

Historically this game is believed to have been brought to India and popularized during the Moghul period. The general assumption is Moghul Emperors brought the cards to India early in the sixteenth century. Once established, the cards spread to most regions of India either in the original form known as Moghul Ganjifa, or in their slightly later Hindu form; ten suits of twelve cards each, known as Dashavatara Ganjifa

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.

In Maharashtra and Orissa, Ganjifa was a widespread Brahmin pastime. Old people are still seen playing Dashavatara Ganjifa near Puri Temples, mainly with 16-suited 192 card decks. A later Brahmin rationalization of this pursuit was notion that the performance of the game is pleasing to the God. Around 1885, Hari Krishna Venkataramana argued that by playing the Vishnu memorizing game, ones sins are washed away. It is said in Shri Bhagwata Purana, which invokes the name of Vaikunta through gestures, and even via joking and abuse, sins are made to wash away. If the name of the God is used during the game saying, “Your Rama did this” or “Your Matsya lost” and “My Narasimha won”, through the repetition of the God’s name sins are remitted.

Age unknown

Rare 5 cm size that is seen only in very old cards

Very good  condition on the front with minor signs of wear, chipping, edge tears, flaking and so on.Back has signs of being mounted and dismounted.

Crackling of the lacquer is seen on all the cards.

Some cards have some damage from previous unmounting. Traces of tissue paper remain on some.

Perfect for framing






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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