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Curious Objects : Ganjifa

Curious Objects

<p style='text-align: justify;'><i>Ganjifa</i> are playing cards or card games from India, Iran and some Arab countries. Introduced into India by the Mughals, a full set of these cards consists of eight or twelve suits. Each suit has its own characteristic design, with ten number cards and two court cards, the <i>shah</i> (king) and the <i>wazir</i> (minister). The game of chance played with the cards was popular in India from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. This set of <i>ganjifa</i> is one of two in the cabinet presented by George Lewis in 1726; neither has survived complete. They are not listed in the catalogue of his collection, so may be later additions, but they were seen by Samuel Dale during his visit to the Library in May 1731. Made of tortoiseshell and finely decorated, these cards must have belonged to a wealthy patron.</p>

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