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Ross G Caldwell  Ross G Caldwell is offline
Join Date: 07 Jul 2003
Location: Bziers, France
Posts: 2,649
Ross G Caldwell 

Originally Posted by kwaw
Waraq was a term used for 'paper' money among Jewish merchants of the 11th century. In a letter from the Merchant Barhan of Mahdiyya to Nehorai b. Nissim among the Geniza documents regarding shipments sent in the year 380 [1046-47ce] he refers to pouches of coins to the value of 266 dinar but also to 1300 dirhams of the warak type. Paper money in the 11th century?! If 'waraq' money, then possibly 'waraq' playing cards too??

The Arabic and Persian sources are, in my opinion, the "hot" area of research in playing cards. Few are equipped for it, either linguistically, financially or politically (all that travelling and looking at documents in libraries and universities, and talking with local scholars and other informants).

Since we seem to have another word - waraq - for them, the field has widened.

It wasn't that long ago that Dummett "discovered" that tarocchi was still played in Sicily. He discovered it for the history-of-playing-cards audience, that is.

So I have no doubt that a whole playing-card tradition exists in Persia, that no one has exploited yet. And it will no doubt hold some of the answers about the origin of our own playing card decks, including perhaps how Muluk wa-Nawwab was played and what kind of "oracles" the inscriptions on the cards were.

(BTW - the Mamluk deck was reprinted in facsimile some time ago, and included an essay by Dummett and Abu-Deeb (IIRC) with all the inscriptions translated. It would be nice to find this deck - I would buy it in an instant).
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