Ganjifa cards, which originated in Persia, were introduced by the Mughal rulers in the 16th century. A key reference comes from an early biography of Babur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty. “Gunj” is a Persian word meaning treasure, and the last two syllables may be derived from the Chinese “chi-p’ai”, meaning playing cards — but these suggestions are unproven. The cards are typically circular, although some rectangular decks have been produced. During the later 16th and early 17th centuries, the cards spread to various parts of India and evolved into new forms. One such form was the Dashavatara Ganjifa, which depicts ten incarnations or avatars of Lord Vishnu. The word ‘Dashavatara’ means ten incarnations, and according to Hindu mythology, Lord Vishnu when revealing himself in opposition to evil chose these human and animal appearances.
From the 17th century onwards, Dashavatara Ganjifa became the most popular card game in Rajasthan, Bengal, Nepal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Guru Ganjifa is based on the Dashavatara Ganjifa, and may be the only form of this Ganjifa variant ever produced with modern printing methods and sold in the West. The artwork is inspired by the Madhubani (or Mithila) paintings, a form of folk painting said to go back to the time of the Ramayana. Each card is illustrated by hand and the deck includes a booklet giving information on its history and games that can be played using this deck.
Every playing card deck has a unique and interesting theme or story behind them. This set of playing cards pays tribute to the Hindu Mythology. Since almost every Indian folk art form is based on Hindu mythology, for the Kings, Queens and Jacks of each suit various Gods and Goddesses as well as their mounts (vahanas), were taken as inspiration. This set of playing cards gives one a glimpse at Hindu mythology as well as Indian Folk Art.
It is not only a collectible but a piece of India for those who are proud of their country as well as those who would like to have a piece of it.
Note: As seen from similar decks like Ganjifa based on Hindu mythology, the players never used to gamble with money while playing with any such card based on Hindu gods and goddesses.
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