Origin of Playing Cards



The origin of playing card games goes so far back that is practically impossible to trace the exact place or specific time where it originated. However, it is quite probable that playing cards made its apparition in different cultures and at different times across the games.

Historical facts have proved that during the middle of the 14th century, card games were played in Europe. One of the most early historical archive comes from the City if Viberto in the year 1379 from Giovanni de Covelluzzo. Along the Mediterranean coast, countries such as Germany and Switzerland already knew about playing cards during that period.

The Exact Origin of Card Games

The exact origin of playing cards have been puzzling numerous historians for many years as to how it did get there in the first place. There are four main theories as to how it entered the European culture.

  • Invented in China, playing cards may have progressively found its way to Europe.
  • Travelling gypsies may have introduced card games to Europe as they did side-shows in different locations.
  • As they returned from the holy land, the Crusaders may have brought back playing cards to Europe with them.
  • It is also believed that playing cards may have been brought from Egypt as travellers crossed the Mediterranean.

The Far East and China Connection

China brought various artefacts to Europe back in the early 12th century, such as the paper money cards. During that period of time, China was known to be highly advanced in the manufacturing of paper products in their sophisticated society. So, it is very probably that they were behind the spreading of playing cards in European regions.

However, there is still no tangible facts that could link them to Europe of the 14th century, or the route that they might have taken while travelling to the European continent. Some historians have even speculated that playing cards have travelled from Europe to India, however the playing cards in this oriental country are so different from the ones in Europe, both in shape and style.

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