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Playing Card Deck

Object Number:29-238-10
Current Location: Collections Storage
Provenience: China
Period: 19th Century
Date Made: 1889 - 1893
Early Date: 1889
Late Date: 1893
Iconography:Money Suited
White Flower
Old Thousand
Wang Ying
Water Margin
Zhu Tong
Inscription Language:Chinese Language
Length: 7.7 cm
Width: 2 cm
Credit Line:Purchased from William Henry Wilkinson, 1903
Other Number:Wilkinson 10 - Collector Number
29-191-242.8 - Old Museum Number


"Stick cards" or Gun Pai 棍牌. This type of deck contains money cards with three suits: 1-9 of cash, 1-9 of strings (of cash) and 1-9 of myriads (of strings) (wan). There are also three extra cards: the Old Thousand, White Flower, and Wang Ying. The Old Thousand card which has 万千 Qian Wan at the top and 天下太平 (peace under heaven) at the bottom is associated with the myriads suit. This suit has the value written out on the top of the cards; thereunder are portraits of commanders from the Shui hu zhuan (Water Margin Story). There are no names with the portraits however, recognizeable is Zhu Tong on the 8 of myriads by the smaller figure in the lower part of the card depicting the son of the magistrate of Cangzhou. The zhihua 白花 (white flower) card has in the lower half of the card an ornamental figure (based on plants?) and in the upper half the text 順利吉記 shunli ji ji (smooth luck). In the upper margin is the text 右坦 shi tan, possibly relating to the manufacturer. On the Wang Ying 王英 card is a portrait of Wang Ying. There are red marks on three different cards: one small streak on jiudiao (9 of strings), two small streaks on Wang Ying and four small streaks on Qian Wan. The cards have double indices showing both value and suit. Deck of 58 rectangular playing cards (two missing). Backs geometric pattern in grey on tan.

From Culin publication: "From Wenchow. Two packets of thirty, no jokers. Index marks for suits and pips coarsely executed. Total, 60."


[Book] Culin, Robert S. 1895. Korean Games, with Notes on the Corresponding Games of China and Japan.. Philadelphia. University of Pennsylvania. Actual Citation : Page/Fig./Plate: pg. 137, No. 10View 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. 74, Fig. 14View Objects related to this Actual Citation

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