Playing Card Deck

Playing Card Box


From: China | Hankou

Curatorial Section: Asian

View All (6) Object Images

Object Number 29-238-39
Current Location Collections Storage
Culture Chinese
Provenience China | Hankou
Period 19th Century
Date Made 1889 - 1893
Section Asian
Materials Paper | Ink
Technique Printed
Iconography Numbers
Inscription Language Chinese Language

Playing cards based on numbers. Rectangular cards with rounded corners. Backs black. Faces with black and red Chinese characters. There are two sets of cards, one with the numbers 1-10 in xiaoxie 小寫 "small writing": 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九 十 and one in daxie 大寫 "large writing": 壹, 貳, 叁, 肆, 伍, 陸, 柒, 捌, 玖, 拾. The cards are stuck together due to a tacky yellow coating. The only visible cards are: 八 (8) and 十 (10) in xiaoxie, 肆 (4), 陸 (6), 捌 (8) in daxie, and a special card 降 jiang (Cantonese: hong) which means "descend". See 29-238-33 for an example of a full set of numbers. The paper box consists of bottom tray of white paper with hand written Chinese characters on each end. The tray slides into a paper tube with printed red, grey and blue motif. "Numbers" is written on the outside of box in pencil.

From Culin publication: "From Hankow. Four each of the first ten natural numbers, (a) in large script, (b) in small script, and the following eight special cards: (1) 2 | 7 | 10, red; (2) II | VII | x, red; (3) 3 | 6 | 9, black; (4) III | VI | IX, black; (5) a crab, black; (6) a butterfly or bat, red; (7) hong, "descend," black; (8) shing, "ascend," red. All the cards are hand-painted. The crab and butterfly sreve the purposes of jokers. Total, 48."

Length 9.3 cm
Width 2.6 cm
Credit Line Purchased from William Henry Wilkinson, 1903
Other Number Wilkinson 39 - Collector Number | 29-191-241.11 - Old Museum Number

Report problems and issues to