Playing Cards - History of Playing Cards
Do you like to play card games? Have you played Go Fish, Spades, or Uno? Many games that we play today have cards. Let's look at the long history of using cards to play games.
Playing cards were invented in China. The first reference to playing cards dates to the ninth century, around the time of the Tang dynasty. The first playing cards were called "leafs" and the game they were used to play was the "leaf game". Princess Tongchang, daughter of the Empress, was described playing the "leaf game" with her husband's family in 868.
The Persians are likely the next group to pick up the idea of playing cards from China, but we don't know exactly when. However, by the 13th century, playing cards were well-known.
From Persia, we can track them to India, where they appeared soon after the Mogul invasion. Egypt had playing cards in the 11th century. The oldest surviving playing cards in the world are in Egypt. They date from the 12th and 14th centuries. A nearly complete pack of playing cards was discovered in the palace in Istanbul. These cards date from the early 15th century.
Southern Europe first had playing cards in the 14th century. The designs they used are still used in traditional Latin decks of cards. Playing cards were popular in Europe from 1377 on.
The earliest cards were made by hand. This was expensive and only royalty could afford decks of cards made this way. Printed woodcut decks appear in the 15th century.
The playing card has changed since the first playing cards-the size changed, the shape has changed, even the designs painted on the cards have changed. However, playing cards are still used in many games.