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Gamblers caught printing cards in China

08/04/2012 at 11:50 AM

Tags chinese china playing cards asian 1294 history

On the twenty-third day of the sixth month in the thirty-first year of the zhiyuan period (17 July 1294), we caught Yan Sengzhu and Zheng Zhugou playing cards, and have also found wood blocks to print cards. Each person has admitted to the truth of the accusation. We have, according to the rules, passed judgement and punished correctly the organizer Lu Donger, accessory to gambling Zheng Zhugou, the owner of the premises Jiang Sier, and the block printer Ye Lin, and dispatched to the Ever-abundant Treasury for deposit the nine cards (zhipai) that were about to be destroyed, and thirty-six taels of zhong tong period (1260-4) paper currency seized at the gambling location. However, as to the guilt admitted by Yan Sengzhu, the main person who got others to come together and play cards, if we pass judgement according to the rules, [we have a problem.] It is because Yan Sengzhu just played cards and did not use dice or coins to gamble for money or goods. We are concerned about making a mistake in judgement. We in the department have found a precedent of the second month of the twenty-third year of the zhi yuan period (1286) which reverently obeyed the imperial decree which says: 'Restrain everyone from gambling for money or goods. If someone breaks this rule, let someone catch him and bring him to the officials, and let them send the person to work in the fields far north. Respect this.' We in the departmenthave also found a precedentfrom Jiangzhe Branch Secretariat which caught Yao Qianliu, Ge Shengqi and others gambling for money and goods, and this Branch Secretariat memorialized the Emperor [Kublai Khan] on the sixth day of the third month of the twenty- third year of the zhi yuan period (31 March 1286), saying: 'It is said in an earlier decree that if those who gamble are caught, they are to be sent to work in the fields in far-away places.' The Emperor's decree was as follows: 'If this case has been dealt with this way, then for the other case, why deal with it in a different way? Respect this.' The Secretariat in the capital passed judgement in analogy to gambling for money or goods, and each received seventy-seven strokes, and the money seized at the gambling pre- mise was confiscated by the government. We in the Department have deliberated on the matter. Since Yan Sengzhu, the person who played cards and gambled for money committed his crime in an outer circuit, if we pass judgement according to the precedent of Yao Qianliu and others from the Jiangnan area, it would seem to be analogous and fitting. ... We have received word from the Secretariat that our verdict and sentencing have been approved.