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Playing Cards History - Origins | DISCOVER
Nov 18, 2016
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Playing Card History: Origins
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Playing cards have an incredibly rich and mysterious history. While many facts are known about the origins of playing cards, several of the details surrounding the creation of cards as we know them today are still subject to debate. Part of the problem is that paper is a fragile medium, so it is almost impossible to truly trace the originals, since samples no longer exist.Early examples of cards can be traced to India, Persia, and Egypt but most experts agree that playing cards originated in China, alongside games such as Dominos and Mahjong. The Chinese invented paper and printing, and there are examples that can be traced to China dating all the way back to 1294! There are even similarities that exist between today’s cards and decks that were made 800 years ago!Other historians believe that cards originated in Persia, where they then spread east to India and China. They also spread west to Egypt, and finally into Europe.Designs of European cards seem to derive from Egyptian cards from the 14th century. It is believed that cards arrived in Europe primarily from trade with Egypt. There are many striking similarities between the 14th century cards and cards of today. The old deck had 4 suits. Swords evolved into the Clubs of today’s decks. Sticks evolved into Clubs. Suits of Cups and Coins can still be found on decks made in Italy and Spain today. Many different areas were eager to put their own styles and cultures into their decks, as evidenced by suits of Acorns, Hawk Bells, Hearts, and Leaves found on German decks. These symbols are influenced by the German pride and love of their natural surroundings.
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