PLAYING CARDS


The exact origin of card games and playing cards is subject to a great deal of speculation and misinformation. There are many divided opinions, theories, and contradictions in the historical research of card games and playing cards. However, playing cards are most certainly not an invention of one person, but rather the result of a gradual development of different games being played in many different regions of the world, throughout centuries. As is the case with all very ancient pastimes, the origin of playing-cards is obscure, many nations having been credited with the invention, but the generally accepted view is that they come from Asia. In the Chinese dictionary, Ching-tsze-tung (1678), it is said that cards were invented in the reign of Seun-ho, 1120 A.D., for the amusement of his concubines. There is a tradition that cards have existed in India from time immemorial - very ancient ones, round in form, are preserved in museums - and that they were invented by the Brahmans. Their invention has also been assigned to the Egyptians, with whom they were said to have had a religious meaning, and to the Arabs. A very ingenious theory, founded on numerous singular resemblances to the ancient game of chess (chaturanga, the four angas or members of an army), has been advanced that they were suggested by chess (see "Essay on the Indian Game of Chess," by Sir William Jones, in his Asiatic Researches, vol. ii.). The time and manner of the introduction of cards into Europe are matters of dispute. The 38th canon of the council of Worcester (1240) is often quoted as evidence of cards having been known in England in the middle of the 13th century; but the games de rege et regina there mentioned are now thought to have been a kind of mumming exhibition (Strutt says chess). No queen is found in the earliest European cards. In the wardrobe accounts of Edward I. (1278), Walter Stourton is paid 8s. 5d. ad opus regis ad ludendum ad quatuor reges, a passage which has been thought to refer to cards, but it is now supposed to mean chess, which may have been called the "game of four kings," as was the case in India (chaturaji). If cards were generally known in Europe as early as 1278,

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