What the Cards Represent

From kids to adults, from passionate gamblers to people who play card games for fun, everyone is familiar with a deck of cards and its symbols. But did you know how they actually originated?

Traditionally the symbols on the cards were meant to represent the social order. Royalties were placed at the top, nobility below and the working classes underneath. The claim is that card games were first noticed in Imperial China, back in the 9th century. It is also believed that originally card playing was also a form of paper- based currency, used both as a game instrument and as a payment method at the same time.

Just like today, back in the days cards were divided into four suits consisting of 3 facial cards and cards with numbers, which was standardized in Mamluk Egypt in the 13th century. The suits back then were divided as follows:

– cups, representing the clergy;
– coins, representing the merchant class;
– clubs representing peasants;
– swords, representing the nobility in Italy.

As for the card decks that we use today – hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades, they derive from the Ancién Régime in France back in 15th century.

Soon afterwards, German speaking manufacturers started experimenting with card design and contributing to the development of the deck as follows:

–hearts were kept, but exchanging;
– bells for diamonds;
– acorns for clubs;
– leaves for spades.

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