Playing Card Deck

Object Number:29-191-240
Current Location: Collections Storage
Provenience: China
Date Made: 19th Century
Early Date: 1800
Late Date: 1899
Iconography:Folk Heroes
Inscription Language:Chinese Language
Height: 7.8 cm
Width: 4.9 cm
Credit Line:Received from various sources, pre-1929


Incomplete deck of Chinese playing cards (two are missing) for playing lok (a variety of lieh chih) or madiao. There are 35 cards in four suits: 2-9 of shi 拾 (tens [of strings of 1000 cash]). 1-9 of guan 貫 (strings of 1000 cash), 1-9 of suo 索 (strings of 100 cash) and 1-9 of wen 文 (cash). In addition there are extra court cards: 'zhizhua' 枝花 ('twigs and flowers' [sprayflower according to W.H. Wilkinson, the collector]), 'mowen' 没文, 'qianwan' 千萬 (1000 myriads) and 'wanwan' 萬萬 (a myriad myriads). Missing from the pack is the additional card 'baiwan' 百萬 (100 myriads) and the 1 of shi 拾. (This card is pictured in the Culin publication "America the Cradle of Asia" from 1903) On each card, within a double cadre, the upper portion is used for the written out value of the card using financial numerals for 1-9: 壹, 貳, 叁, 肆, 伍, 陸, 柒, 捌, 玖. In the lower portion of the cards are pictures showing the actual number of cash or strings of cash. The other suits depict people, possibly folk heroes or characters from the Water Margin story (see 29-238-11). Yiwen 壹文 (one of cash) is shown with a man. On jiuwen (nine of cash) is a pot or kettle with the text 'San Fang Ming Yang Jian Zuo' 三房明陽監做 (made under the supervision of the bright yang of the three chambers). Zhihua shows a pot with plants or flowers. On mowen is a taiji 太极, and qianwan and wanwan (and the missing baiwan) show people. Four cards are marked with red characters: the nine of strings of 100 and 1000 cash and the extra cards mowen and wanwan. On all cards (except for yiwen and jiuwen) is the name of the manufacturer 謝 Xie (also meaning 'thank you'). And on mowen is, in full: 謝家 Xie Jia (Xie family). The backs are all black. Purchased from William Henry Wilkinson in 1903.


bibs in rowcount
[Article] Culin, Robert S. 1903. "America the Cradle of Asia". Harper's Monthly Magazine. Vol. March. pg. 534-540 Actual Citation : Page/Fig./Plate: pg. 537, Fig. 5View Objects related to this Actual Citation
[Article] Wilkinson, William H. 1895. "Chinese Origin of Playing Cards". American Anthropologist. Vol. 8. no. 1. pg. 61-78 Actual Citation : Page/Fig./Plate: pg. 73, Fig. 13View Objects related to this Actual Citation

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