India’s history and myths do not interest us as much as Greek or Roman. Not because we are racist but it’s a real challenge to try and remember the long Indian names and after the fifth or sixth names we read, we are already confused. This article is a challenge for us because it is difficult to understand the history properly before forgetting the names of historical figures.
We are still doing this simply because it is our mission to curate interesting and highly unique playing cards launched in Kickstarter. Yes, we think this deserves a spot in our blog. Getting straight to the decks at hand, Bharata playing cards is created by Sunish Chabba in collaboration with one of the top Indian Illustrators Ishan Trivedi. Being the ignorant fools we are, we relied on Google to attempt to understand what is Bharata. We found out that he is a legendary emperor and founded a dynasty in his name. Mentions about him and his descendants are written in the Sanskrit epic, Mahabharata. This epic is the longest known poem ever written in the history of mankind. How long is it? For our western readers, the length of it is ten times the length of Iliad and the Odyssey combined. You read it right, TEN times as long as the two Greek epics combined.
Back to the playing cards at hand, we like to jump straight to the cards that truly mattered and those are the royal court cards. The portraits on the royal court cards are dressed quite accurately to how people are dressed in India although we are not sure how faithful it is to the dress styles during that time era. Let us show you the court cards below and you can be your own judge.
From the Bollywood movies we seen depicting ancient India, and a quick google search. Something tells us these are very closely related. We are going to include more screen captures courtesy of the Kickstarter project page of Bharata Playing Cards.
Since playing cards are popularised in the western world, depictions of Royal Court Cards are always Western influenced. It is quite refreshing to see oriental influences into it and also quite accurate to how people during that time era dresses. Do not forget about the jokers.
Here are some images of Ace of Spade and Ace of Heart.
In case you did not notice the card back earlier, we got a slightly bigger image for your scrutiny.
No offence to anybody’s culture or anything but looking at the card back design just gave us a psychedelic road trip in our minds. If you ever wondered why India art is so colourful and a mass of colours clashing with each other, it’s in their culture! There is a Hindu festival, Holi. Some of you might know Holi as the festival of colours or festival of love and it’s use of colour powder to make it seem like an explosion of crayons. That’s what we see on TV and advertisements but there is a side of Holi which is not commonly known outside of India. People use cannabis especially Hindu holy men and priests because it boosts mediation and helps them achieve a transcendent state. A drink called Bhang is also commonly drunk during this festival in parts of India. We speculate that the “highness” experienced by these people during their mediation made them see colours and shapes which they thought it was a state of transcendence. Since then, a myriad of colours always accompany Hindu religions. We just made that stuff up, do not trust us on that reasoning.
Back to the cards, this project offers two editions. There is the normal playing cards version with a bright orange tuck box.
The other version is a tarot inspired deck with blue tuck box. and a blue card back.
As to why tarot themed? We guess only Sunish knows. Maybe he’s trying to infuse more western elements into his playing cards, considering how his previous projects are all Indian culture related. Hence, having more western elements in his playing card projects will attract more people? What is tarot? We will leave the explanation to tarot.com and if you want to get a kick out of having your fortune divined by cards, go here.
So the tarot edition of Bharata replaces the two joker cards with four tarot cards. They are The Tower, The Lovers, The Fool and Death.
These are interesting replacements of the western drawings of these cards with Indian culture influenced depictions. Also, there is a minor addition to the poker pips in the tarot influenced cards. You will notice another symbol below the numbers on the top right corner of the cards.
Have you spotted them? If not, look closer. CLOSER… See them? Don’t know what they mean? It’s more symbology related and it is a field we don’t want to discuss in this article because it feels like a big field of fluff fluff. If you are interested, google Avia Venefica Below are images of the addition symbols. If you know about Indian history and culture enough, you will know these symbols are picked for specific reasons.
Before we end off this article, let’s talk about some features of Bharata Playing Cards:
- Fully custom illustrated cards based on Indian folk art forms
- 54 Poker size cards (63 X 88 mm)
- Super sturdy & elegant tuckbox with embossing & gold holographic foil
- 330 GSM German Top Quality Black Core Card Stock with an improved linen finish (yet to be named) – with inspiration from USPCC’s Air-Cushion finish & Archduke’s Quantum Grain Finish
- Gold Gilded edges with a brilliant and shiny real gold look (playing cards version)
- Silver Gilded edges using superior grade silver leaf (tarot cards version)
- Produced by Guru Playing Card Company (GPCC)
Just so you know, GPCC is set up by the card creator himself! Pretty impressive eh? We will like to end this article by pointing out one thing that we find lacking. There is no unique design of the poker pips on the playing cards edition. However, there are unique poker pips on the tarot version. This design seems to be a common approach for tarot related playing cards and Sunish pointed out to us that this is a common theme across similar decks and this project’s tarot deck had its inspiration as another project, Arcana Playing Cards by Chris Ovdiyenko.
We find that having pip symbols on all corners of the card makes it feel cluttered and we don’t fancy that personally. We’re not saying it’s bad design or anything, we just don’t quite fancy it on a personal level. Other than that, we think this is a playing card deck worth collecting especially the tarot version because of the four tarot cards that come with it. You probably will not see anything like it in a long time unless Sunish catches on the idea and releases a full tarot playing card inspired by Indian history and culture.