Ganjifa cards
June 2, 2006 12:26 AM   Subscribe

Ganjifa cards have a history of more than 300 years. A pack of ganjifa cards consists of ninety-six cards; they are generally circular and made of ivory, tortoise shell, thin wood or hard board material. Dancing, hunting, worshipping, and processions are some of the subjects painted on the cards. Some more patterns: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. However, Ganjifa today is a craft in a crisis.
posted by dhruva (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
can these cards be smoked?
posted by Hat Maui at 2:34 AM on June 2, 2006

Lovely post dhruva. Those are charming and interesting cards. I love Indian art. There are a number of decks for sale, maybe that's a way to support the folk artists?
posted by nickyskye at 2:37 AM on June 2, 2006

Some of these are great.

Laxman meets Vali's wife Tara: ...shame about the face. And, uh, the prehensile tail.
posted by pracowity at 2:49 AM on June 2, 2006

..the elderly men who still play dashavatara Ganjifa of 16 suits with a 192-card pack around the temples of Puri.
That's a hell of a card deck. I wish they went into the practicalities of the game beyond noting the need for memory (!). But handpainted sets are only going to be rich collectibles at >$200 a deck. I wonder if they massproduce them. I guess that would be anathema.
Thanks for the post dhruva.
posted by peacay at 2:51 AM on June 2, 2006

peacay said 'I wish they went into the practicalities of the game beyond noting the need for memory (!)' specific rules are supplied with the games or are known to the Ganjifa artists. These rules were narrated to me by a grandson of a Ganjifa artist from Orissa some time around the mid 1980's.

The rules are pretty wild:
Between Sunrise (morning) and Sunset (evening) is known as the daytime. If the game is played during the daytime, the player with the King (Raja) of the Surya (Surkh) (Blue) suit shall start the game. He should play this Surya Raja along with one other card of no use or low value card from the Surya suit, and if not, one such card from any other suit. The other three players follow suit and each should play any two low value cards from their hands. The winner (player who started the game with the Surya Raja) takes all the eight cards laid on the dais as his first hand.

Between the Sunset and Sunrise, that is, when the game is played during the night time, the one who has the King of Chandra (Safed) (Black) suit will lead the game and the same procedure as in #6 should be followed.
posted by jack_mo at 4:15 AM on June 2, 2006

The rules are pretty wild:

Hardly a game in crisis. Centuries hence, it shall be known as Fizbin. Lives will be saved.
posted by elendil71 at 5:31 AM on June 2, 2006

How do you hold your hand? It would be pretty hard to fan them out like the rectangular cards in regular use.
posted by tellurian at 6:41 AM on June 2, 2006

These cards are amazing. I had never heard of them before or seen them. Thanks a lot of the post.
posted by OmieWise at 6:47 AM on June 2, 2006

Beautiful cards! I'd never heard of them, either. I just found out that my friend's trip to India was cancelled... could have had him pick up a deck for cheaper, I'd imagine.
posted by papercake at 11:27 AM on June 2, 2006

Ah thanks jack_mo, I obviously skipped that bit.
posted by peacay at 11:39 AM on June 2, 2006

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