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Articles on Chinese Playing Cards & Games


The theory of the Chinese origins of playing cards, or even Tarot, gets floated every now and then, both in the historical as well as the occultist literature. But this history has not been examined in any great depth, to the best of my knowledge. The following late 19th century articles will be of interest to those who wish to pursue this line of inquiry.

"The Chinese Origin of Playing Cards", by W. H. Wilkinson (1895).

https://www.scribd.com/document/3447...ing-Cards-1895

And see the last few articles in this anthology (downloadable PDF from Google Books):

"Chinese games with dice" by Stewart Culin;
"The I hing or "Patriotic rising"" by Stewart Culin;
"East Indian fortune-telling with dice"
"Chinese games with dice and dominoes" by Stewart Culin.

https://books.google.ie/books?id=AI9...aneous&f=false

Further sources, quotes and images can be posted in this thread for future reference.
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Wilkinson also contributed to a section on Chinese cards (pp. 184-194) in Lady Schreiber's catalogue: https://archive.org/details/aen4312.0001.001.umich.edu

Wilkinson knew Mandarin while Culin knew Cantonese. They often describe the same thing but in different dialects.

Gernot Prunner's "Ostasiatische Spielkarten" (1969) is a very good source if you know German.

Andew Lo has written several articles on the history of Chinese cards and their games. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1559494 is available for free for anyone with a JSTOR account. It examines the earliest Chinese sources. He also wrote a chapter in Asian Games: The Art of Contest (2004).
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Thank you so much for posting these here! I'll have to go poke at the JSTOR article this weekend when I have time.
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Thanks Ludophone for mentioning these other sources.

I had already read Andrew Lo's articles, and while they are indeed very interesting, Lo's interpretation in "The Game of Leaves: An Inquiry into the Origin of Chinese Playing Cards" has been called into question by David Parlett, see his article "THE CHINESE LEAF GAME: Did the Chinese really invent card games?" here: http://www.parlettgames.uk/histocs/leafgame.html

As for other "classic" works on Tarot and card history, both Chatto and Romain Merlin also evoke the Chinese origins theory in their books.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by _R_ View Post
Thanks Ludophone for mentioning these other sources.

I had already read Andrew Lo's articles, and while they are indeed very interesting, Lo's interpretation in "The Game of Leaves: An Inquiry into the Origin of Chinese Playing Cards" has been called into question by David Parlett, see his article "THE CHINESE LEAF GAME: Did the Chinese really invent card games?" here: http://www.parlettgames.uk/histocs/leafgame.html

As for other "classic" works on Tarot and card history, both Chatto and Romain Merlin also evoke the Chinese origins theory in their books.
Parlett doesn't dispute Lo at all, he is simply summarizing Lo's work from three different articles, one in the SOAS journal found on JSTOR, another in the IPCS journal, and a chapter from "Asian Games: The Art of Contest".
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