Queen of Tarot

The ancient wisdom of the cards

Persian Ganjifeh

Very little is known about how Ganjifeh got into Persia and India. We know the word is Persian, and that the first mention of the cards is a Persian ruler giving cards to an Indian ruler. Still, it seems plausible that the Moghuls brought playing cards with them from Mongolia. They certainly brought printing into the area, and so it is probable that they brought the culture of cards with them.

I think we can expect historians to find that cards first existed in Persia and India at around 1200 CE, based on when printing and printed Tsagli arrived. Persian Ganjifeh differ from Indian Ganjifeh in that their suit marks are slightly different, and Persian cards typically have a rectangular shape.

In my opinion, Persian playing cards are the ancestor of the Mamluk pattern playing cards. This is not the mainstream opinion, but to me it makes sense because these two distinctive traits are mirrored exactly in the Mamluk cards. It is from Persian that we get the term “Ace”, which comes from the ancestor of poker, a game called “As Nas”.


ganjifeh, ganjifah, asia, persia