Sunday, November 6, 2016

June 21, 2016: ...before 1377? Aragon

Translator's introduction
(by Michael S. Howard)
Here is my translation of “Carte da gioco in Europa prima del 1377? Aragona”, by Franco Pratesi, posted on his website at I have attempted to translate his quotations. Comments in brackets, including these translations, are mine unless otherwise specified. I posted this translation originally at,  There follows extensive discussion. As for the Bidev 26 page typescript that Franco mentions, it even has its own thread, at I have transposed it here, after Franco's note, along with links to the works he refers to.

Playing cards in Europe before 1377? Aragon
(by Franco Pratesi)

1. Introduction

The oldest reference to playing cards in Europe now generally recognized is the word naip inserted in a 1371 Catalan dictionary, six years before the Florentine provision that had long been considered the first European testimony. In this study we examine various notices coming not only from Catalonia but also from other cities of the Kingdom of Aragon. It is a collection of testimonies that actually presents a wider framework than elsewhere for the first dissemination of playing cards in Europe and thus has a value that goes far beyond its local character. Of course we will try as always to assess as far as possible the actual reliability of the notices discussed.

2. Peter IV of Aragon

Many historians of playing cards have studied their spread in the royal and princely courts of different countries: it almost seems that without the royal courts playing cards would not have been had, especially the triumphs. It seems strange then that we have not already read about the possible involvement with playing cards of King Peter IV of Aragon (1319-1387), or his family members. Yet he was not a personage of the second rank or one of brief tenure on the throne (over half a century), even across multiple thrones. In fact he was King of Aragon as Peter IV, called the Ceremonious, King of Valencia as Peter II, King of Sardinia and Corsica as Peter I, Count of Barcelona and other Catalan counties as Peter III from 1333, and, to make matters worse, also King of Mallorca from 1343 until his death.

Also for his family ties this king was above average, beginning with his four marriages with their offspring. In short, for those who study the connections of these environments with playing cards, it seems to me that there is a large open area for research. As

for me, I have always seen the very old playing cards more readily in the hands of common players, merchants, shopkeepers, and even more so, as unfortunately is rarely possible, in those of the their makers; so I add a portrait of the king (Fig. 1, reminding me precisely of a few playing cards), I leave the research on the Aragonese court environments in the same state, little explored however inviting, passing to environments I know better

Figure 1 – Peter IV the Ceremonious, king of Aragon, etc.
(From Wikimedia Commons)

3. Joseph Brunet y Bellet

It is not possible to speak of playing cards in Catalonia without beginning with Joseph Brunet y Bellet (Barcelona, 1818-1905). This Catalan author was an outstanding bibliophile who collected many rare publications and wrote scholarly essays on various historical materials, including "secondary" ones on games. On his historical works the

judgment of the Grand Catalan Encyclopedia is "erudits però mancats d’esperit crític" [erudite but lacking a critical mind] 1.

Of interest to us here is exclusively an important book of his, of 284 pages, dedicated entirely to their own playing cards 2. In 1990 a new edition of 500 copies, all bound in leather and stamped in gold, was published by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Fig. 2); I was able to consult it, and I had the impression, not unpleasant, of reading, written in Catalan, many notices and histories, even fabulous ones, I already knew from old English, French and German texts. I had never read so many pages in that language; it is easy for an Italian, but I would have preferred that the setting had been mainly Catalan, while here it ranges throughout Europe and, to make matters worse, through much of Asia. Evidently the author based himself on the main reference texts on the history of playing cards known at the time and was concerned to inform readers about what his predecessors had written in the various European languages.

Figure 2 - Cover of the book by Brunet y Bellet studied. [See, p. 3]
2 J. Brunet y Bellet, Lo joch de naibs, naips ó cartas. Barcelona 1886.

The Catalan author supports in every way a Catalan priority for the introduction of playing cards. At the basis of his conviction is a belief that can be found in the writings of other historians, and that is that the cards were already widely used in the fourteenth century, well before "our" 1377. A strong support Brunet y Bellet finds strong support in the game of gresca, previously documented, which he interprets as a card game, an interpretation to be considered very doubtful. However, Brunet y Bellet presents something valuable from the documentary point in support of his opinion, two important references, one of 1371, one of an unspecified date but declared close to that. They are two references that also afterwards have been brought in support of a priority of Barcelonian documents.

Indeed, the importance of these two references is increased from the moment they are separated from the preceding testimonies, based on gresca. Rather curiously, what is probably the greatest contribution in all these 284 pages it is contained in four lines, at the end of a note, which, moreover, refers to a different document. Today, virtually all playing card historians recognize the validity of these documents and therefore give the Catalan notices precedence in Europe over those of Florence, Freiburg, and others previously considered the oldest. They thus agree in reading directly what Brunet y Bellet gives us, with the assistance of his archivist friends to whom he is understandably grateful.
De tots los datos recullits resulta que la paraula Naib, es lo nom mes antich donat á las cartas y que es de procedencia árabe ó judia. En catalá se donava á las cartas aquest mateix nom. En 1’inventari de Nicoláu Sarmona, negociant de Barcelona, carrer de S. Daniel, any 1380 va continuat un «Ludus de naips qui sunt 44 pecie,» (1) y en los de Miquel Zapila mercader de Barcelona, any 1401; y en altre inventari del arxiu del notari D. Jaume Thos, del any 1460, van també continuats en cada un d’ells un joch de nayps.

En los Registres de nostre arxiu municipal titolats «Bands y Ordenacions» en los documents continuats desde 1378 á 1399 se trovan edictes prohibint los jochs de daus, taules y naips, (fol. 29 y 41) y en los de 1471 á 79 (fol. 102,) va continuat lo band publicat lo primer de Mars de 1476 ... . (p. 63)

(1) Dech la comunicació de tant interessants documents á la desinteressada é inagotable complacençia de mos amichs D. Manuel de Bofarull, arxiver de la Corona d’Aragó y D. Joseph Puiggarí y D. Lluís Gaspar, arxivers Municipals, qu’á ma primera indicació s’han donat la pena de registrar los arxius
de la Corona d’Aragó y Municipal, depósits inestimables d’innumerables tresors histórichs poch coneguts y menos consultats.

En aquestos documents se trova ‘1 nom de las Cartas en Catalunya, en la forma castellana Naips, Nayps–Naipe – algun tant alterada ja en 1’ últim, lo mes modern – Nehips; pero de segur la forma primitiva, en nostra terra, era la mateixa original Naib, ab qual forma fou introduhida en Italia (de Catalunya?) Naïbi plural de Naib. Una prova d’aixó la tenim en 1’Inventari de D. Pere de Queralt, del 3 de Novembre de 1’any 1408 (1) en lo qual trovém continuat «i joch de naibs grans,» per lo que no ‘m queda cap dupte que las Cartas en Catalunya foren conegudas ab lo nom de Naibs qual nom retingueren molt temps, lo que es menester tenir present per lo que diré mes endevant. (p.65-66.)

(1) Jochs Florais de Barcelona de 1885. «Costums de Catalunya, per Joan Segura,» pág. 210. Dich Naib esser la paraula primitiva original Arabe ó Judaica, referintme á lo que diuhen altres, no per qu’ estigue convensut de sa exactitul perque ‘m quedan molts duptes sobre aixó com se veurá mes endevant. (p. 65.)

En lo Diccionari de la Rima de Jacme March de 1371, se trova la paraula Naip També se trova mes d’una vegada en lo «Libre de les dones,» de Jaume Roig, que á poca diferencia es de la mateixa época. (p. 65)

[From all the details gathered, the word Naib is the oldest name given to cards and comes from Arabic or Hebrew. In Catalan they are given the same name. In the inventory of Nicholas Sarmona, shopkeeper in Barcelona, St. Daniel Street. in 1380 is contained "Ludus de Naips qui sunt 44 pecie," (1) and in merchant Zapila Miquel Barcelona 4401; and in another inventory of the files of notary D. Jaume Thos., of the year 1460, also contained in each of them, joch de nayps [game of cards].

In the records of our municipal archives titled "Bans and ordinances" in documents ongoing from 1378 to 1399 are found edicts forbidding games of dice, boards and cards (fol. 29 and 41) and in 1471 to 79 (fol . 102) continued the ban released the first of March 1476 .... (p. 63)

(1) Dech [I owe?] the communication of both interesting documents to the disinterested and inexhaustible help of our friends D. Manuel de Bofarull, archivist of the Crown of Aragon and D. Joseph D. Puiggarí and Luis Gaspar, municipal archivists who have drawn my first attention to the files of the

Crown of Aragon and Municipal registries, deposits of countless priceless historical treasures little known and less consulted.]

In the Registries will be found the first name of the cards in Catalonia, in Castilian form Naips, Nayps-Naipe - these much altered in the last, Nehips the most recent; but surely the primitive form in our land, Naib, was the original, in which form it was introduced in Italy (from Catalonia?) Naibi, plural of Naib. A proof of this is in the Inventory of D. Pere de Queralt, 3 November 1408 (1) in which we find contained "i joch di naibs grans" for which there is no doubt that in Catalonia they were known by the name of Naib, a name retained for a long time, of which it is necessary to keep in mind for what will be said below. (p. 65-66).

(1) Jochs Floras of Barcelona 1885. "Traditions of Catalonia, by Joan Segura," p. 210. Said Naib being the primitive original Arabic or Hebrew word, referring to what others say, not because it was convenient but exactly because “in that many doubted about it as we shall see below. (P. 65.)

In the Dictionary of Rhymes of Jacme March of 1371, the word Naip is found. It is found also more than once in the "Book of women," by Jaume Roig, of little difference in the same period. (P. 65).]
It is precisely the last lines, added here almost by accident, that we will have to discuss again later.

4. Trevor Denning

The studies on playing cards of the Iberian Peninsula have been conducted almost exclusively by local scholars; An exception is the considerable presence among the authors of an Englishman,Trevor Denning (Birmingham 1923-2009); notices of his core activities are even found in Wikipedia, especially as an artist and professor of fine arts in its Birmingham 3. I personally, however, have known him as Editor of The Playing-Card and remember with gratitude his encouragement and also some linguistic revision of my first articles on the subject. In his study activities in the old sector of the playing cards he also had important awards, like the Modiano Prize in 1993. His interest in the field is concentrated most on Spanish cards,

and his book on the subject is still known as a classic. 4

Of course, the first notices of Catalan origin do not escape him and are doscissed briefly in the book:
The word naip appears in a Catalan rhyme dictionary of 1371, the Llibre de Concordances, compiled by the poet Jaume March. The presence of the word in such a dictionary denotes that it was already in familiar use in that region. The Llibre de Concordances or Diccionari de Rims exists in three manuscripts – one in the Biblioteca Colombina in Seville, another in the Biblioteca de Catalunya in Barcelona and the third in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid. It was written “at the request of the most high and powerful Lord Pedro by the grace of God King of Aragón and completed in the year MCCCLXXJ” (the reference is to Peter IV of Aragón and III of Catalonia). A printed edition, edited by A. Griera, appeared in Barcelona in 1921 and is one of a series of philological studies published for the Institute of the Catalan Language. Under the words ending -ip we find "Macip, felip, garip, xorip, naip, estip, dip." In Catalan, no meaning other than ‘playing-card’ has ever been attributed to the word. (p. 14.)
Denning also calls to mind the most favorable position of the Iberian Peninsula for any transfer from the Islamic world to Europe, including cards.
If plausible Saracen connections are needed, however, Spanish references appear more pertinent in that they single out types of cards rather than types of peddler. Durán-Sanpere reports that from 1380 onwards Spanish testimonies are frequent and refer to an assortment of packs – pequeñas, grandes, finas, doradas, damasquinas, moríscas, or franceses. (3) Madurell quotes descriptive notes from the fifteenth century referring to, for example,”... I joch de naips domasquins ...” and “... X jochs de naips moreschs”. (4) He seems to interpret “naips domasquins” as a reference to their quality but if the adjective is taken to literally mean ‘of Damascus’ we are precisely at the heart of the Mamluk empire from where, we now know, came the distinctive Islamic cards of which examples still survive. In those, it is easy also to see similarities to Italian cards, reminding us that we are still unclear about the precise stages by which they became transformed into the post-Islamic forms we now know. (p.15.)

(3) Augustin Durán-Sanpere, Grabados Populares Españoles (Barcelona, 1971), p. 119.
(4) José Maria Madurell Marimón, Notas Documentales de Naiperso Barceloneses (Instituto Municipal de Historia ; Barcelona, 1961), p. 59.
4. T. Denning, Spanish Playing Cards, England, 1980.

Some additional information ise presented of particular importance, still in the Catalan environment, concerning the period after 1377, which a priori for our study is of less interest.
Several other fourteenth-century Catalan references to playing-cards may be mentioned at this point. An inventory of 1380 belonging to a Barcelona shopkeeper, Nicolás Sermona, includes unum ludum de nayps. (5) In the same year in Perpignan, one Rodrigo Borges is listed under the dual title of pintor y naipero (painter and playing-card maker). (6) In December 1382 in Barcelona, the Register of Ordinances includes a directive banning the use of dice, backgammon and playing-cards in the Corn Exchange. (7) On 23 June 1384 in Turia (Valencia), the Town Council (Consejo General de la Ciudad de Turia) put a prohibition on “un novell joch apellat dels naips” (a new game called playing-cards).(8) Finally, in 1401, the inventory of the Barcelona shopkeeper Miguel Ca-Pila included “un joch de nayps grans pintats e daurats, tots ab cubertes negres” (a pack of large cards painted and gilded, all in black wrappers). (9) (p. 16)

(5) Barcelona: Archivio Histórico de Protocolos de Barcelona: Berenguer Armengol, leg. 5, man. años 1380-1392, f. 5 v° (26 octubre 1380).
(6) Joseph Gudiol y Conill, La Pintura Mig-Eval Catalana, II. Els Trescentistes, 2a part. Barcelona, p. 133.
(7) Barcelona: Archivio Histórico de la Ciudad de Barcelona : Registro Especial de Ordinanzas, in Manuel Llano Gorostiza, Naipes Españoles (Vitoria-Gasteiz: Rdiciones Induban, 1975), p. 201.
(8) José Sanchis Sivera, ‘Vida Intima de los Valencianos en la Época Foral’, Anales de Cultura Valenciana 14-21 (1935), p. 43.
(9) José Brunet y Bellet, Lo joch de Naibs, Naips o Cartes (Barcelona, 1886), p. 73.
5. La ciudad de Turia
This investigation does not usually dwell on notices after the year 1377, which represents a sort of watershed between completely secure testimonies and those tht are usually questionable. However the Turia document of June 1384 seemed of so great an importance that it cannot be overlooked. Often I do not hesitate to discuss these topics using the first person, but in this case I also allow myself to get down to of a personal report, practially at the level of a story.

The report begins in my imagination. I had never heard of Turia, but I knew that Valencia is both the name of a great

city of the Iberian coast and the name of the region of which the city is the capital. So I figured right away that Turia was a small inland city, and I was curious to see how far it was from the capital; not only in terms of kilometers, but also of a likely location in a mountainous inland area, with more difficult access and transit. That way one could quite easily explain the delay in the initial diffusion of card games, the better the more distant and higher had been the location of the town.

I then set about satisfying my curiosity with our powerful means of Google-Maps and Wikipedia. In the first case one finds an uninhabited location on top of a mountain, probably meaning to indicate the area of the source of the Rio Turia, the river crossing Valencia before emptying into the sea. A second indication for Turia is located in Valencia. Thus one would conclude that the city of Turia was originally a small town near the capital that was incorporated over the centuries by the expansion of Valencia. Even this hypothesis is not satisfying, because the indication of Google-Maps is not for a city district but for the name of a subway station. The only other clue, but not for an ancient city, is the Jardí del Turia (Turia Gardens) 5 created on the ancient bed of the river crossing the city, after the river itself was diverted, information, again with reference to the Rio Turia and not to a city.

At this point I could not help but disturb a Valencian historian who has written important works on the history of chess and checkers, José A. Garzón, taking advantage of our past correspondence and mutual esteem. I transcribe the following question and answer, the same day thanks to electronics and the courtesy of my interlocutor.
I am interested in understanding where and how this city was in the Valencia region. On the Internet I find Turia only as a metro station in central Valencia, or as the Rio that runs through the city. (Otherwise a Ciudad de Turia I find in Greece ....) I can imagine that at the end of the fourteenth century it was a small city that was then incorporated into the great expansion of the city of Valencia, losing even the name - but usually in these cases the name

of the old city is the neighborhood, whereas here there is no trace. 6

La ciudad (del) Turia es la misma Valencia. Valencia se fundó junto al río Turia, en el meandro del mismo, utilizando el río como límite o frontera natural. Como consecuencia de la riada de 1957 surgió la necesidad de desviar el río, y actualmente en el antiguo cauce hay zonas verdes, deportivas, culturales, etc. 7

[The city (of) Turia is the same as Valencia. Valencia was founded on the Turia River, on a bend in the river, using the river as a natural boundary or border. As a result of the flood of 1957 it was necessary to divert the river, and now in the old river bed there are areas of greenery, sports, culture, etc. 7]
In short, the mysterious Ciudad de Turia was not at all in the mountains, where I had searched in vain, but it was right by the sea and was none other than the all-important city and port of Valencia. With this "small" change, the historical significance of the date 1384 is practically revolutionized, and we will have to discuss it again later.

6. Josep Sanchis Sivera

Josep Sanchis Sivera (Valencia, 1867-1937) was a canon and Valencian historian. He was director of the Center of Valenciana Culture from 1927 to his death. Information about his life is at his name in both the Spanish and Catalan editions of Wikipedia ,.
Estudió en el Seminario Metropolitano de Valencia, ordenándose sacerdote en 1890. Pasó a ocupar servicios de redactor del Boletín Oficial Eclesiástico de la Diócesis Valentina, en la Secretaría de Palacio Arzobispal, mientras empezaba a hacer incursiones periodísticas en el semanario Semana Católica. Fue nombrado muy pronto canónigo de la Catedral de Segorbe, e inmediatamente pasó con esta misma responsabilidad a la Catedral de Valencia. conoció el ar-chivero y canónigo de la Sede y eminente historiador Roque Chabàs Llorens, que lo guio en su formación, mayoritariamente autodicata, inculcándole el re-speto por el método científico y en el llevar trabajo a los archivos. ... Como historiador se declaraba discípulo del positivista Chabàs, interesándose sobre todo por el periodo medieval, a partir de los archivos religiosos y civiles de la ciudad de Valencia y otros visitados con ocasión de sus numerosos viajes por España y Europa, dejando una extensa obra.

Fue catedrático de historia del arte de la Universidad Pontificia Valentina y dedicó una parte significativa de sus trabajos a esta disciplina, ... También son destacables sus estudios sobre la familia Borja, sobre arte medieval valen-cia y sobre historia de la vida cotidiana, de la cual puede ser considerado un pionero con su volumen dedicado a la Vida íntima de los valencianos durante
6 F. Pratesi, email 16.06.2016.
7 J. A. Garzón, email 16.06.2016

la época foral (1932-35). [/i] 8.

[He studied at the Metropolitan Seminary of Valencia, ordained a priest in 1890. He went on to serve as editor of the Official Ecclesiastical Diocese Bulletin of the Valentina Diocese, in the Secretariat of Archbishopal Palace, while beginning to make periodic inroads into the Catholic Weekly. He was soon appointed canon of the Cathedral of Segorbe, and immediately proceeded to take on the same responsibility at the Cathedral of Valencia. He knew the archivist and canon of the see and eminent historian Roque Chabas Llorens, who guided him in his training, mostly self-taught, inculcating respect for scientific method in the work undertaken with the archives. ... As a historian he declared himself a disciple of the positivist Chabas, interested mainly in the medieval period, from religious and civic archives of the city of Valencia and others he visited during his many travels in Spain and Europe, leaving an extensive body of work.

He was a professor of art history at the Pontificia Valentina University and devoted a significant part of his works to this discipline, ... Also noteworthy are his studies of the Borja family, on medieval art of Valencia and on the history of ordinary life, in which e can be considered a pioneer, with his volume dedicated to the intimate life of Valencians during

the leasehold period (1932-1935). 8]
In short, a historian with a deep interest in religious art, but also in minor aspects of local history, just the ones that interest us. What is significant is his habit of providing serious documentation in the archives for a difficult sector of medieval history. The contribution of our interest is that of more of the quotation by Denning, and the book Vida intima is nowhere to be found in Italy. In truth, I had not read Wikipedia and I had not realized that one had to look for a book printed in 1935 by Imprenta Hijo de F. Vives Mora 9 (which I see reprinted in 1993), but I thought the quote was referring to an article in a journal and that's what I set out to look for. To look for a copy of the Valencian journal in Italian libraries was both easy and difficult: On OPAC for the years of interest the journal is present only in the Libary of the National Virgilian Academy in Mantua. Of course I immediately made use of today's powerful electronic means to find the article in question. The thing was not easy. Already addresses in the OPAC have proved obsolete and an initial question bounced back after a short time.

The next expedition for the right address encountered a different difficulty. The librarian of Mantua, Ines Mazzola, had the great courtesy to immediately send the requested article, which, however, concerned that the culinary habits of the Valencians in the Middle Ages. The fact is that the Denning citation read as a reference to an article of a journal was rather ambiguous; then I considered that there were mistakes and, with the help of databases available online, "decided" that the reference had to be read differently, as No. 14, 1932, pp. 229-243. And so the error was made by me.

During the same day I was able to explain what I was looking for and receive all that was necessary. Of course, the credit goes to the speed of today's electronic media, but also to the courtesy of Ines Mazzola, who has already exceeded the already high average typical of the support available from the staff of libraries and archives. The librarian told me that 1) of articles with that
9 J. Sanchis y Sivera, Vida i´ntima de los valencianos en la e´poca foral: publicados en los anales del centro de cultura valenciana numeros 14 al 21. Valencia 1935

title of Vida intima in the journal there was not one, as I thought, but eight, distributed in different years; 2) she sent me a copy of one that contained 43 pages (results relating to funeral customs then; 3) she also sent me a copy of an article on games, but where on page 43 and above there was no reference to the Ciudad de Turia 10. In practice she was doing the research that I was supposed to do! In conclusion, the article you are looking in the aforementioned journal now has a certain signature 11.

The article begins with series title, author, title and content of the chapter, as follows.
Vida íntima de los valencianos en la época foral
Entusiasmo por los juegos y deportes. – Juegos mas conocidos. – El vicio del juego de naipes. – Juegos prohibidos. – El juego de dados. – Casas de juego y su prohibicion. – El ajedrez. – Ordenacion de Femando el Católíco – El juego de pelota. – Abusos que se introdujeron. – Castigos a los jugadores que ocasionaban escandalos. – Disposiciones de los jurados.

[Intimate life of Valencians of the leasehold period
Enthusiasm for games and sports. - Best known games. - The vice of the game of cards - Prohibited games. - The game of dice. – Gaming houses and their prohibition. - Chess. - Ordination of Ferdinand the Catholic - The game of ball. – Abuses tjat were introduced. - Punishments to players that caused scandals. - Provisions for jurors.]
The part of our specific interest is very short, and the data to be confirmed is relegated to a footnote, as copied below.
Los juegos de naipes se introdujeron en Valencia en la segunda mitad del siglo XIV (1), y aunque parece que sólo lo jugaban los hombres, se extendió muy pronto a las mujeres, llegando a constituir un vicio, lo que motivó una seria prohibición de parte de las autoridades, que no podían consentir lo que tanto contribuía a la relajación de las costumbres, A principios del siglo XV, la pasión por el juego había llegado a un estado vergonzoso, pues, los juegos más inocentes habían degenerado en semillero de riñas, blasfemias y otros excesos. Para acabar con tales licencias y vicios, trató la Ciudad de evitarlos, y al efecto dictó una providencia prohibiendo bajo pena de veinte sueldos, que en garitos, casas particulares u otros lugares [1410] se jugase a joch de grescha, de jaldeta, de naips, a la badalassa, ni a la riffa, ni atres bons jochs, ni a les velles, ni a cinch que no val. No sabemos qué clase de juegos eran éstos, pero es muy posible que fueran de azar por medio de dados, exceptuando el de naipes y algún otro. En 1412 volvió la Ciudad a dictar disposiciones contra el juego y las malas costumbres, que hizo públicas por medio de pregón, lo que
10 Segreteria Accademia nazionale virgiliana, email, 17.06.2016.
11 Año VI, Julio-Septiembre de 1933, Núm. 17. pp. 109-120.

prueba que las penas pecuniarias hacían poca mella en el ánimo de los jugadores. (p. 111)

(1) Entre los juegos prohibidos en el Conceil general de 23 de junio de 1384 figura un novell joch apellat dels naips (Manual de Concells, tomo XVIII, fol. 41).

[Card games were introduced in Valencia in the second half of the fourteenth century (1), and although it seems that only men played, they soon spread to women; taking it to constitute a vice led to a serious prohibition by the authorities, who could not consent to such a contributed to the relaxation of traditions. By the early fifteenth century, the passion for the game had come to a shameful state, then, the most innocent games had degenerated into a hotbed of bickering , blasphemies and other excesses. To end such license and vice, the city sought to remove them, and to that effect issued an order prohibiting under penalty of twenty sueldos, in gambling houses, private homes or other places [1410] se jugase a joch de grescha, de jaldeta, de naips, a la badalassa, ni a la riffa, ni atres bons jochs, ni a les velles, ni a cinch que no val. We do not know what kind of games these were, but it is very possible that they were gambling by dice, except of cards and some others. In 1412 the City returned to enact measures against gambling and bad habits, made public by proclamation, which

proves that financial penalties made little impression on the minds of players. (P. 111)

(1) Among the prohibited games in the general Conceil of June 23, 1384, is included un novell joch apellat dels naips (Manual de Concells, Volume XVIII, fol. 41).

There are several points that remain to be explored. One should check whether the expression of Ciudad de Turia, which does not appear in this text, is present in the volume of 1935 that collects these items, possibly in a form revised by the author. It would also be of interest to be able to recognize a card game in addition to naips in one of the other names indicated: For a card game that date would have a much more important significance than for games of dice, already known for centuries. The point about the novell joch is important, if it is discussed again in a following section.

7. Joan Coromines i Vigneaux

After authors who have been occupied more or less on the basis of archival research precisely on playing cards, I have to add an author from the linguistic area, that here is interested exclusively in the word naipe present in the third volume of his most complete and popular vocabulary 12. Indeed , what interests us it not only the word indicted as a whole,, which contains sometimes questionable statements, also based on an overestimation of the documentary value of Brunet y Bellet. So I just limited myself to copying first the essential biographical data from Wikipedia, and then some periods of the aforementioned item that will be useful for the discussion
Joan Coromines i Vigneaux (Barcellona, 21 marzo 1905 – Pineda de Mar, 2 gennaio 1997) è stato un filologo spagnolo, autore del dizionario Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico (Dizionario critico etimologico castigliano e ispanico) che diede un forte contributo allo studio del catalano, del castigliano e di altre lingue romanze. Catalanista, repubblicano dichiarato e antifranchista, dopo la guerra civile spagnola andò in esilio in diversi paesi fino ad ottenere la cattedra dell’università di Chicago nel 1946 13.

[Joan Coromines i Vigneaux (Barcelona, 21 March 1905 - Pineda de Mar, January 2, 1997) was a Spanish philologist, author of the dictionary Diccionario crítico etymological castellano y hispánico (critical etymological Spanish and Hispanic dictionary) who gave a great contribution to the study of Catalan, Castilian and the other Romance languages. A Catalanista, called Republican and anti-Franco, after the Spanish Civil War she went into exile in various countries until obtaining a professorship at the University of Chicago in 1946 13.

12 J. Corominas, Diccionario crítico etimológico castellano e hispánico, Vol. 4, Madrid 1981, pp. 207-211.

The first parts selected from the Diccionario are of a general characer, as in the following two pieces, the first corresponding to the start of the word, the second taken from a note.
NAIPE, voz común al castellano con el portugués, y con el catalán, lengua de Oc e italiano antiguos (naïps, nàibi), de origen incierto; las varias etimologías arábigas que se han propuesto no satisfacen. 1.a doc.: h. 1400, glos. del Escorial.
Quizá no sea posible resolver este problema etimológico hasta que los eruditos se pongan de acuerdo sobre el origen del juego de naipes; en todo caso seria utilisimo para el lingüista poder partir de esta premisa. Por desgracia reina en este punto una profunda oscuridad. La China, la India, el mundo árabe, Italia, España, se han disputado el dudoso honor de esta invención, pero los más enterados y críticos vacilan; en el siglo presente se cree que no corresponde a Francia, como se había supuesto. Los indicios referentes a la China y a la India son dudosos, porque en gran parte se basan en teorías discutibles que identifican el primitivo juego de cartas, sea con el ajedrez, o con la adivinación cartomántica, o con juegos en que se empleaba papel moneda. (p. 207)

En Alemania el juego de naipes se menciona por primera vez en 1377, en Francia en 1392. De ahí la afirmación de que en los principales paises de Europa aparece casi simultáneamente. De todos modos téngase en cuenta que estas menciones se refieren a casas reales o personajes importantes; el nivel es mucho más popular en Italia y en Castilla, y sobre todo, al menos en los SS. XIV-XV, en Cataluña. (p. 210)

[NAIPE, word common to Castilian with the Portuguese, and Catalan, Occitan and old Italian (naips, naibi), of uncertain origin; various Arabic etymologies that have been proposed do not satisfy. 1st doc.: c. 1400, Glos. Escorial.
It may not be possible to resolve this problem until etymological scholars agree on the origin of playing cards; in any case it would be very useful for the linguist to be able to work from this premise. Unfortunately at this point it lies in deep darkness. China, India, the Arab world, Italy, Spain, have contended for the dubious honor of this invention, but the more aware and critical hesitate; in this century it is believed that not from France, as had been alleged. Indications concerning China and India are doubtful, because largely based on questionable theories that identify the origin of the game of cards, either with chess, or cartomantic divination, or games that used paper money. (p. 207)

In Germany the game of cards is first mentioned in 1377, in France in 1392. Hence the assertion that it appears in the major countries of Europe almost simultaneously. In all cases it must be noted that these mentions are refered to royal houses or important people; the level is much more popular in Italy and Castille, and above all, at least in the 14th-15th century, in Catalonia. (p. 210)
One can be in agreement, but to find an original contribution more useful for our purposes, we should take in particular and, above all, turn precisely to Catalonia.
En Cataluña hallamos noticias muy numerosas desde fines del S. XIV (1380, 1378-99), s.s consta allí la prohibición repetida desde 1391, y la fabricación de naipes catalanes es aludida repetidamente en el periodo 1442-1468, y mucho más tarde, aun en la América española. De Cataluña viene desde luego la mención más antigua entre las plenamente confirmadas (además de otras anteriores menos seguras) (9) la voz naip sale entre las rimas en ip en el Libro de Rimas de Jaume Marc, compuesto en 1371(10). Ahora bien: esta rima tiene verdadero interés por cuanto nos revela la antigua pronunciación naip. Que ésta seria general lo comprueba la versificación de Jaume Roig (1460): «darrerament, / per ensajar / de bandejar / los seus guarips, / joch de nayps / de nit jugávem (v. 3010), la del Canç. Satiric Valenciá de fines de este siglo (11) y la repetida grafía nahip (1382, etc.) citada por Brunet (12)... (p. 208)

(9) [commenta la gresca secondo Brunet]
(10) Le sigue de muy cerca (y aun acaso le precede) el Llibre de les Dones de F. Eiximenis (cap. 54 A f°5 41 v°b) «les dones,.. / o bé juguen als naïps». Es de los trozos en los cuales Eiximenis prosificó un poema narrativo, didáctico. Según el texto que restituyo en mi libro Entre dos llenguatges, vol. I, p. 171, el vocablo está en un octosilabo asonando en í. Si el poema era, como sospecho, del propio Eiximenis, pudo ser algo posterior a dicho año, o algo anterior si lo escribió de joven; y no se excluye que sea de un poeta anterior, de la primera mitad del siglo. (p. 210)
(11) «Jugant a nahips / ...cridant com adips / ...», p. 78. (p. 210)

[In Catalonia we find numerous notices from the late fourteenth century (1380, 1378-1399), s.s [?] there was repeated ban since 1391, and the manufacture of Catalan cards is repeatedly alluded in the period from 1442 to 1468, and much later, even in Spanish America. Catalonia certainly has the earliest mention among those fully confirmed (in addition to other previous ones less secure) (9) the word naip appears among the -ip rhymes in the Book of Rhymes of Jaume March, composed in 1371 (10). Now indeed this rhyme holds real interest in that it reveals the ancient pronunciation of naip. Generally serving as verification is the versification of Jaume Roig (1460): «darrerament, / per ensajar / de bandejar / los seus guarips, / joch de nayps / de nit jugávem (v. 3010), that of Canç. Satiric Valencian [Satiric Valencian Songs?] of the end of this century (11) and the repeated spelling nahip (1382, etc.) cited by Brunet (12)... (p. 208)]

(9) [comment on gresca according to Brunet]
(10) is followed very closely by (and perhaps even preceding) Llibre de les Dones of F. Eiximenis (chap. 54 A v f ° May 41 ° b) "les dones .. / o bé juguen als naips." It is in one of the pieces in which Eiximenis turned into prose a narrative, didactic poem. According to the text I restore in my book Between two Languages, vol. I, p. 171, the word is in an assonating octosyllable in i. If the poem was, as I suspect, by Eiximenis himself, it could be somewhat later than that year, or earlier if it was written in his youth; and it is not excluded that it is from an earlier poet of the first half of the century. (p. 210)
(11) 'Jugant a nahips / ... cridant com adips / ...', p. 78. (p. 210)
We must re-discuss these notices in the context of others already presented. I mention only the resumption of the discussion on the correct way of writing naip or naib, which already had interested Brunet y Bellet, and that here extends to discussing the different positions of the accent of the word, on the a or the i. For discussions on these names an Iberian ear seems necessary, just think the same book title by Brunet y Bellet, and the surname of the author met last, who personally preferred to write it Coromines, while his brother maintained Corominas.)

8. Félix Alfaro Fournier and Manuel Llano Gorostiza

We have arrived at the last Iberian writers that I have taken into account. They are here last only because I consulted them last; if I had read them before the others I would have saved a considerable part of the effort, despite the fact that you can not just say that they discussed our question at length..

Félix Alfaro Fournier (Vitoria 1895-1989, Fig. 3) was the grandson of Heraclio Fournier, founder of the famous factory of playing cards. Succeeding his grandfather in the management of the company in 1916, Félix Alfaro Fournier gave a the beginning to the activity of playing card collecting, activities that in the course of his long life led him to create a rich collection that still constitute the main core in Vitoria of the museum of playing cards, the Museo Fournier de Naipes de Álava (Arabako Fournier Karta Museoa), one of the largest in the world in this field.

After editing a first catalog of the collection 14, Fournier republished a hardcover and large format edition, much richer in reproductions of cards and descriptions 15 (then followed by a second volume of additions in 1988). The title should be read in the sense of a history of playing cards presented by the cards themselves. In fact, the text with the general historical treatment is reduced to a short introduction. Right at the beginning, when the first notices on playing cards in Spain are discussed, we find what interests us, and it does not take much effort to copy it in full.
In Spain, the oldest document dates from the Municipal Archives of Barcelona of 1378. (1)

(1) In the «Diccionario de la Rima» by Jaume March of 1371, according to J. Brunet, the word Naip is found.
Figure 3 – Bust of Félix Alfaro Fournier.
(From Wikimedia Commons.)
14 F. A. Fournier (ed.), Museo de Naipes. Vitoria 1972.
15 F. A. Fournier, Playing cards: general history from their creation to the present day: Fournier Museum. Vitoria 1982.

In what follows, the author will indicate other subsequent testimonies. On the passage of our interest in the book there are no comments, but the manner in which it the note is included speaks for itself. More than a note, it appears as a parenthesis, as if to say: if one insists on digging through the uncertain information, there would have to be this addition. In short, reading between the lines more information is received than is written.

The second author is a Basque writer who was culturally formed in the universities of Valladolid and Madrid 16. A prolific writer, he has devoted his attention to a broad set of local features, from art to gastronomy, and wine in particular. On playing cards he has written a whole book, with reference to Spain 17. We as usual are only interested in the part dedicated to the early days of the initial appearance of playing cards in Spain. Unlike other authors, Llano Gorostiza here presents many legendary stories about old cards and also for Spain reminds us of some stories that are wanted to associate with the birth of playing cards or to Seville or Madrid. However, he makes it clear not to give credence to any of these legendary versions of the facts and clearly separates these from the next part: “Una cronologia rigurosa de barajas y tarots anteriores a 1500 unicamente podria desarrollarse a travès de la siguentes fechas.” [A rigorous chronology of cards and tarots before 1500 could only be developed from the following dates]. (p.17).

The "rigorous chronology" occupies pages 19-22 and begins with Father Johannes 1377, followed by 1379 Viterbo and Brabant, and 1380 Barcelona. We are more interested in what he says about Valencia.
1384 El Consejo General de la Ciudad de Valencia prohibe con fecha 23 de junio “un novell joch apellat del naips”, lo cual nos induce a pensare en reciente implantación de los naipes, simultánea a la de Barcelona. (p. 20.)

[1384 The General Council of the City of Valencia prohibits with a date of June 23 a "joch novell apellat the NAIPS", which leads us to think of a recent introduction of the cards, simultaneously in Barcelona. (p. 20.]
Too bad I found this notice, so formulated and commented on, last; if I had found it first, and if I considered it worthy of faith, I would have saved efforts hard for me and disturbances to others. If I happen again in the future to return to the subject, I will try to do so in an impersonal way, better articulated, and also by consulting more recent studies and some mentioned that so far I have not been able to read (like those of Durán-Sanpere and Madurell Marimón).
17 M. Llano Gorostiza, Naipes españoles. Vitoria 1975.

9. Discusson of the documents that follow 1377

I should start the discussion with the 1371 rhyming dictionary, once reasonably skipping the previous testimonies linked to the game of gresca. However, it seems more logical to start with a date out of range, the 1384. I recognize that it may seem strange and unjustified, but you will find some justification after the fact.

Denning had presented us with the “novell joch” that appeared in Turia (Valencia) and shortly thereafter he added that naibi had appeared in order of time in various cities and last quoted at 1384 corrersponding to "provincial Valencia", in short, a small town in the countryside, far away from the capital - so I'd taken it. But now we must correct the spelling of Turia (= Valencia!) And "provincial Valencia" to "Valencia city-center".

In my opinion, this is a kind of Copernican revolution. 1384 would not in itself be very important, so much so that is located beyond the range of the usual searches in this investigation. The revolution is to move from a country town or the mountains to the great city of Valencia. The port of Valencia was very active. The population had been decimated by the Black Death in the middle of the century, but it was again increased significantly due to the immigration of new inhabitants of diverse backgrounds and religions, especially Catalans but also Jews and Muslims of other backgrounds. In short, it was a big, cosmopolitan city, open to international trade and cultural exchanges.

I would like to digress a bit further out of place. From Florence, the city that has interested me most from birth, Valencia was one of the three Aragonese ports with which it had more trade, with Barcelona and Mallorca. Florentine merchants, entrepreneurs and bankers had permanent offices in those cities with permanent staff; trade contacts were very frequent and considerable. Then, if the game of naibi in Florence noviter inolevit in 1377, that explains how the evil becomes rather a novell joch in Valencia only in 1384. It should explain this fact with a direction opposite to that assumed: with cards that arrive in Valencia from Florence, and not vice-versa. I apologize for the Florentine parentheses and proceed immediately to Catalonia, closer and with closer links.

Before arriving, going backward, to the dictionary of rhymes, the testimonies from the notaries and the legal systems of Barcelona must be considered. The relevant dates,starting in 1378-1380, are varied and rather early. The seriousness of the documentation appears to me indisputable. The problem arises only in relation with Valencia: if a game was regulated several times in Barcelona in those years, is it possible that it was still a novell joch in Valencia in 1384? In my opinion, the answer is affirmative, after all, because novell does not necessarily correspond to a game arriving just then; even if it had arrived in the city a few years previously it could still be regarded as new ... enough. One can agree with of Llano Gorostiza as to the limit, when she speaks of “una reciente implantación de los naipes, simultánea a la de Barcelona” [recent implantation of cards, simultaneous with that of Barcelona].

In short, the cards are first documented in laws of Barcelona and only a few years later in Valencia recorded in 1384 as a newly introduced game. Not something too strange, after all, even if Valencia we would expect something earlier; however, many more oddities are encountered considering the previous years, and compared to 1384, it appears far too distant.

10. Discussion of the documents before 1377.

A very strange thing is met with the word naip in the 1371 rhyming dictionary. No other documents soold are known in Europe for playing cards; but who can guarantee that playing cards are even here? I understand the assertion that the word naip in Catalan was not applied to other objects or personages and thus, if it is found, corresponds to finding the cards. But until then, it was not associated even to cards - as a first occurrence for any meaning, if I suggest that in this case ir was extraordinarily referred to the lieutenant of an army or an Islamic governorate, it will not be easy to prove with absolute certainty that I am wrong. In this regard we can also remember the opinion of Rosenfeld, who reads naip as a deformation of the poetic French naif or legitimate 18.

In this specific case, the testimony is different from the usual, also
18 viewto-pic.php?f=11&t=1096&start=20#p16905

in regard to its control. Personally, and in a manner contrary to all my habits, I do not feel here the usefulness of a comparison of the three preserved manuscripts. I can assign a priori a very high probability that the transcript is correct, say 95%. However, it is not securely about playing cards, and thus, again in my opinion, the probability that they are not is thus high, say 54%. (I chose the two numbers for no reason other than that the overall probability is in any case higher than 50%, even if only slightly.)

The control can be done in a different way, more indicative. The historians who submitted the previous report have often accompanied it with similar others. It then becomes necessary to submit to a thorough examination also those "accessory" documents, in order to verify its reliability. The fact that the notice of the Dictionary of Rhymes cannot be a totally isolated attestation is very important, and precisely this circumstance may also serve to convince the most skeptical.

Starting with our analysis by the notices of Brunet y Bellet, it is rather a support to the contrary, which would favor instead distrust of these notices. The Catalan author told us that the citation of Juame March’s Dictionary of Rhymes was supported by other similar ones present more than once in a famous work of Juame Roig, of about the same date. A quote from Juame Roig can also be read above, in a statement from the Diccionario. Unlike that of 1371, which could be in doubt, this is certainly related to playing cards; it is a pity, however that his dates, indicated also by Corominas, is of 1440. It will also, if desired, be about the same date of 1371, but the corresponding time difference is too great to make the notices useful for our purposes in this investigation. Jaume Roig, a doctor and famous writer, was born in Valencia at the beginning of the fifteenth century and died in 1478; brief biographical information on him in multiple languages is also found on the site of Catalan writers 19.

With this, the first Jaume has lost the support of the second Jaume and would remain alone and isolated if Corominas had not come to his aid, which introduces a third character on stage, Francesc Eiximenis (Gerona 1330 - Perpignan 1409), indeed with the right dates, so that his activity is attractive for us. Again the author's level is above average: a Franciscan master of theology, enjoyed by monarchs and rulers, who wrote numerous works,

many of which had a wide international circulation 20.

Corominas lets us know that the testimony on playing cards that we owe to this "new" author may be slightly later than that of Jaume March, but it may be contemporary or also earlier; moreover, if the work was done by the author in his youth, it could reasonably be placed even in the mid-fourteenth century. Then for sure one would have a real European record, if not in the world. My capacity for critical analysis comes to an end; it is not easy to control notices and for me I can safely stay here. I am glad to have left a few probabilities in addition to fifty-fifty in favor of Juan March, but in my mind the novell joch of 1384 in Valencia remains indelible, so much will depend on ... Francesc Eiximenis.

11. Mists of the distant past

In the preceding sections we have gone further back in time than in any other discussion on playing cards in Europe. This primacy inevitably invites us to continue, to go further back in time and possibly to switch to more or less distant regions from where the cards could arrive in Aragon, and Catalonia in particular. In front of our investigation we have now opened different paths, but there is one feature that they all have in common: they are covered with a thick fog, which makes the continuation of the journey uncertain. A first junction that we encounter concerns precisely the places to study. On the one hand there is, it would say of course as known today, the Islamic world, but there is also a path that does not stray from Catalonia.

There are historians who, in part also following the notices and opinions of Brunet y Bellet, believe that playing cards were born in Catalonia. I believe that the relatively most avid relatively recent supporter of a reconstruction of this kind has been Pavle Bidev (1912-1988), a Serbian-Macedonian chess fan and historian Rather than playing cards, Bidev has long studied the history of chess and has written numerous books and articles; unfortunately for him, his city of Igalo was far from any grand capital. his activities would have benefited immensely from

current means of communication; for his expertise, passion and propensity for polemic, he would assume a leading role in more than one forum for those involved in various sectors of the history of games. On playing cards, Bidev wrote mostly page upon page of polemics to refute the hypothesis of Rosenfeld, but here his positions there only serve to anchor his discusson in Catalonia. His reconstruction accepts the opinion of Brunet y Bellet that gresca was also a card game, and thus in Catalonia the transformation had occurred early on of dice into special cards, dice-cards, illustrated only with the points of the dice, accommodating in a second interval in the same pack also picture cards of kings, horse or knight, and knave, with the subsequent addition of the queen. These court cards would enter the game starting from the figures associated with the moralization of chess by Jacopo da Cessole. Some of his ideas were refuted by none other than Michael Dummett 21, but later Bidev replied, essentially confirming and explaining his views in a typed article that perhaps remained unpublished (Fig. 4) 22.

So as to learn more about his opinions, I copy below a few excerpts from that article. The first excerpt puts the cards in the broader environment of magic and astrology, which Bidev has deepened significantly for decades, especially with regard to chess. Obviously his “PC” are Playing-Cards.
55 years prior of fr. John there is the evidence of the Jewish writer Kalonymos b. Kalonymos writing in Catalonia 1322 his book Eban Bochan /Proof-Stone/. His klemazpia is, in my opinion, rather an instrument of prevision than that of vision. In his time PC were not known in Spain in form of Naipes but only in their protoform of dice-game Grescha consisting only of 36 “eyes”-cards. The eyes are, of course, the black dots of dice from which paper cards evolueted 969 in China, and about or prior of 1300, in Spain. Both transformations of dice-eyes into numbered with pips PC are made by lovers of magic and astrology, not by common people, to serve as instruments of fortune-telling. It is an universal low that instruments for gambling and hazard-games are used at first in their primeval holy stadium in sacred religious and magical rites. Their use as games for recreation and gambling out of sacred rites is a much posterior phase in the origin and evolution of board- and card-games.

In support of my conjecture that Kalonymos mentions Grescha as a dice-
21 M. Dummett, The Journal of the Playing-Card Society, Vol, VII, No. 3 (1979) 75-78. [online at, then use the right arrow for the next page.]
22 P. Bidev, Did Playing cards originate from the Spanish four season dice-chess of 1283? Igalo 1979. 22 p.

eyes card-game for prevision of good or bad fortune, can serve Chinese dominoes. They are known as unique fortune-telling instrument among yellow nations, especially in China. Chinese dominoes have their progenitors either in dice or in Chinese dice-PC. (p. 12-13.)

Figure 4 – Typewritten article by Pavel Bidev, p. 13.

The second passage, although with the same premises, enters more into the details of the formation of the deck of our playing cards.
I am deeply convinced that our PC originated among friars-lovers of astrology, and other in secret taught occult sciences. We are indebted to those “black Magicians”, may be among Dominican friars, for the invention of PC. ...The true PC /not the dice-PC-Grescha of 1303/ have not existed, in my opinion, prior to the year 1352. The 16 illuminated chess-pieces miniatures in the second French translation of Cessoliade by John Ferron have possibly inspired after 1352 some of his colleagues to add to the pip-cards of Grescha the pictured chess-pieces. The number of 52 leaves of parchment upon which is written the second Ferron’s translation of Cessoliade, as they are preserved in the Royal Library at Stockholm, might have suggested the mind of the inventor of PC to transfer his ideas on the same number of 52 leaves of PC,
probably made of parchment in a time when paper fabrication was not in existence in Europe, in the true sense of the word. (p. 19.)
In conclusion, according Bidev, the connection with Asia is very distant and only in the broad field of primitive astrology, but the formation of the first playing cards was a purely European phenomenon, even Catalan. This reconstruction is not based on new documents brought to light recently, but on various noticess and views that have long been known, recomposing them to form a more complete picture.

As premised, this was a path full of mists; but many are encountered also on the other path, the one that leads to the Islamic world. One must admit the plausibility of what Denning, Corominas and others say about it we neglect even the possibility of the birth of playing cards in Catalonia, but, once you accept a provenance from the Islamic world, Barcelona with its flourishing international trade becomes again a strong and prominent candidate for their entry into Europe. When entering this new path, we suffer many side paths from which to choose the continuation. In fact, to say the Islamic world is not sufficiently indicative: the Islamic world was ... half the world. Catalan merchant vessels link the port of Barcelona with numerous ports in the "Islamic world", virtually the entire Mediterranean. The popular comment for the ports to choose from here would be: "You are too kind, Saint Anthony." [Translator’s note: Per Wikipedia, this expression is taken from a story in which a man asks St. Anthony’s help in mounting his horse. The saint helps, but now their joint exertions land him on the ground on the other side, where he utters the expression.]

Among the many possible origins I see two only slightly less foggy. The first is from Alexandria, but only thanks to the historians of playing cards have repeated to us on Islamic cards and their path to Europe; However, starting from Alexandria, Venice at least would have been a preferable destination. A second path would be possible from the Sultanate of Granada; nobody talks about it and I think that one reason is the Islamic prohibition of playing cards, and another that it was now reduced to a small enemy territory. I had said that we were entering into fog; to proceed further, assistance is essential, at least from scholars of commerce across the whole Mediterranean, with possible stops from Morocco to Syria and perhaps even beyond. Those who wish to embark on a trip like that could probably find some ideas in the map of Fig. 5. I cannot do other than stop here.

Figure 5 - Medieval commercial routes and itineraries
(From Wikimedia Commons.)

12. Conclusion

We have reviewed the oldest Aragonese notices on the origin of Aragonese playing cards, mainly from Barcelona and Valencia, also reporting the views on the subject by historians and experts who have dealt with it.

An undeniable contrast stands out between the date of 1371 for the first mention of the word naip in Barcelona and the sharpness of “novell joch apellats de naips” in Valencia in 1384; fewer problems are created by the testimonies that come from municipal laws on games in Barcelona, for more recent years. Also for Barcelona, along with the known reference of 1371, the word was first introduced a second time by Jaume Roig that looked contemporary, but then is advanced to the fifteenth century. It needs further control from a second work, by Francesc Eiximenis, the date that appears indeterminable exactly, but close to 1371 and possibly of one or two previous decades. Along with that of the much cited 1371, it would be a rare testimony, before the confirmation of the presence of playing cards in Europe is presented as secure and with rapidly increasing frequency, starting from 1377.

If one tries to trace back in time still further, we meet opinions and poorly defined reconstructions, impossible now to check: some exclude an Islamic card origin; others consider it to be certain; in both cases, the kingdom of Aragon and Barcelona are usually considered by historians as of interest as the deepest roots for the initial dissemination of playing cards in Europe.

Franco Pratesi – 21.06.2016

My supplement to the above, Nov. 10, 2016, from

Bidev's 1979 typescript on playing cards' origin
(by Michael S. Howard)

In relation to traces of playing cards in Spain before 1377 (above), Franco Pratesi quoted from a 26 page typescript of 1979, apparently unpublished, by the Yugoslav/Macedonian Prof. Pavle Bidev (1912-1988). It is written as a response to Michael Dummett’s 1979 review of his 1973 book Die Spanische Herkunft der Spielkarte [Spanish Origin of Playing Cards]. Dummett’s review can be read at ... 4?pw=Bidev and following (Journal of the IPCS, vol. 7, pp. 75-78). The essay touches on topics of concern in several other recent threads, notably those having to do with John of Rheinfelden, the relationship of his work to that of Cessolis on chess, the relationship between chess and playing cards generally, and the role of divination in the origin of playing cards. it is rather different in orientation from most of what we see on this forum.

I thank Franco for supplying me with a copy of the typescript from which this transcription is drawn. I ran the typescript through an Optical Character Recognition program; however in almost every third word or so there was at least one error. I expect that a few errors escaped me. I did not correct spelling or grammatical errors in Bidev’s unedited text but indicated them by “(sic)”; let me know about any likely errors and I will check the typescript. In two places Bidev drew circles around phrases and arrows to indicate where the phrases should have been placed. I hope I got them right. I have inserted photocopies of these places. Anyone who would like a copy of the typescript itself, please send me a Private Message.

Words in brackets are mine, mostly translations of his quotes in French and German. I did not try to translate the Latin. If anyone wants to give it a try, please do so. I indicated footnote numbers by parentheses (but I could not find number 1). The footnotes themselves were not part of the typescript.

The abbreviation “PC” obviously means “playing cards”.

So far, the only obvious defect I see is that while protesting that he couldn't have known about Ettinghausen's earlier Mamluk card (pre-1400) in 1971 (hence Dummett is being unfair), Bidev does know about it in 1979; if so, how does it affect his thesis of Spanish origin? He does not say. The answer might be another question: how does Ettinghausen know it's pre-1377 (to use Franco's dividing line), as opposed to post-1377 and for the common people rather than the more elaborate taste of the Istanbul set? Even if that question can be answered, and playing cards as we know them were first in China or someplace between Persia and today's India, or somewhere on the "Silk Road", there is still much of interest here, it seems to me. In any case, it deserves publication, if only in such a place as this.

"Yu-Igalo" on the title page seems, from a cursory Google Search, to be a spa-town somewhere in former Yugoslavia, perhaps Montenegro. Here is the essay.






Did Playing Cards originate from the Spanish Four Seasons Dice-Chess of 1283? -- Their Iconography from Miniatures in Copies of Cessolis’ Chess Sermon betw. 1337 and 1352

A Historical Discussion of the Great Question
By Yugoslav Chess-Master and - Historian Prof. Pavle Bidev

Motto; “The games are based upon certain fundamental conceptions of the universe.” Stewart Culin

The Journal of the Playing-Card Society republished in No. 3 of February 1979 an excellent article of 1878 by E.A. Bond on History of Playing Cards with a brief exposition of the MS~Moralisation on PC by the German monk, Dominican friar Johannes /Dom. Fr. John/, writing in 1377. But the review of my PC paper of 1973 by Mr. Michael Dimmett, a well known Oxford PC scholar, in the same issue of the PCS Journal, cannot be appreciated to be so excellent as the article of Bond, Mr, Dummett asserts many things I have not said in my PC essay of 1973. Dummett is wrong in asserting that I maintained 1973: “/7/ playing-cards were known, at least in Spain, from the late 13th century;” /I.c.p.76/.

I maintained that the protoform of Spanish Naipes was the famous hazard-game Grescha, known and played in Catalan from the beginnings of the 14th century. Grescha was not a true card-game, because, in my opinion, it had only “eyes of dice" on parchment or pasteboard-leaves. A similar evolution, from dice to PC, is attested in China much earlier than in Spain, precisely in the year 969. Between the year 1303, when Grescha is mentioned for the first time in Catalanian [sic] prohibitions of hazard-games and the Chinese year 969, however, there is an interval of 334 years.

I agree with Spanish authors, quoted 1874 in the paper of Florencio Janér (2) and 1886 in the book of Jose Brunet y Ballett (3) that the evolution from dice to PC in Spain is autochton.

The French sinologist and PC-hlstorian Henri Alibaux,writing in 1937 a book, on the history of printing, but destiné à l’usage prlvé [destined for private use], quotes a most precious passage from the encyclope-

dia Tzu-yuan explaining the transformation of dice to “dice on paper” or PC:

"Les livres de la dynastie T’ang étaient tous en forme de rouleaux. Plus tard vinrent les pages, comme celles dont on use de nos jours. Quand on voulait avoir un écrit facile a examiner rapidement, on le faisait sur des pages. De la même manière, pour avoir des dés d'une manière commode, on les fit sur des cartes; ceci fut l'origine du mot carte à jouer, yeh-tzu-ho, qui vient de yeh-tzu, page, feuille et signifie; dés-en-feuilles, dés-sur-pages. ~ Avant la fin de la dynastie T’ang, il y avait déjà des “dés-sur-pages". (4)

[“The books of the T'ang dynasty were all in roll form. Later came pages, such as those we use today. When they wanted to have writing easy to examine quickly, they did it on pages. Similarly, to have dice in a convenient manner, they made them on cards; This was the origin of the word playing card, yeh-ho-tzu, which came from yeh-tzu, page, sheet, and means: Dice-in-sheets, dice-on-pages. Before the end of the T'ang dynasty, there were already "dice-on-pages.”]

Mr. Dummett is wrong in assertion on p, 76, that the evidence cited by Joseph Needham in 1962 was known to the chess-historian H. J. R. Murray, writing in 1915. The precious Chinese document on the divinatory proto-chess Hsiang Hsi, from the year 569 A.D., was discovered by Needham before 1962; how could it be known to Murray in 1913?

Murray says on p. 122,1.c; note 5: "The moves in the Chinese game are more restricted than those in the Indian game. At first sight, following the analogy of the Western development of chess this suggests that the Chinese chess may preserve an older type of the game than we find even in the oldest Indian accounts, and even supports the view that chess is really of Chinese origin."

The tragic-comical scene on the stupa at Bharhut of Ashoka’s time before A.D., with a gameboard of 6x6 squares bearing some dice or uniform play-men, cannot be the Indian four-handed dice-chess. That is an absurdity of the first class, not worthy of mention. Dummett says; "On Bidev's own showing, four-handed chess existed in India by 1030 A.D., quite early enough to have inspired the invention of playing-cards there." (5)

My words are vitiated. I have in none of my numerous publications on chess-origin /not in 1973,too/ asserted, that the Arabic scholar al-Biruni did see in India about 1030 the true four-handed dice-chess with four-coloured pieces, so painted for play in a corrupted form of Chaturanga. I have once for all disproved the naive belief of Van der Linde /1874/, Murray /1913/ and of contemporain [sic] chess-historians, that the four-

handed dice-chess in the description of al-Biruni had any connections with the true four-colonred dice-chess. Al-Biruni has observed in India by 1030, how 4 players use the bicoloured pieces of two handed chess to play with dice for stake. He says: “The name of King applies here to the Firzan /Minister/” /Murray, 1913, p.58/.

It is clear that the 4 players used two Kings and two Firzans to play 2 against 2 with two-coloured men. Al-Biruni has named in his diagram the pieces with dark and blank ink, not in four colours./ For a most detailed discussion see my refutation of the views of the Sowiet [sic] chess-historian Isaak Linder (6).

Dumaett says on p. 76. below; "He /Bidev/ is unaware of the earlier Islamic- card in the de Unger collection published by Ettinghausen, and of course, of those published subsequently, and his remarks are therefore completely out of date."

How I could have known 1973, what Ettinghausen published in 1974, and what contained publications after 1974!?

Mr. Meissenburg received my MS on the Spanish origin of PC in 1971- Till the end of 1977 I had no one copy in my hands. Mr. Meissenburg send my essay to Dr. Kopp in Basle, Dr. Rosenfeld in Munich and so on in early 1978. I do not know the reasons for his doing so. Possibly he was handicapped by technical difficulties, In my paper of 1973 I presented the state of known facts about origin of PC till the year 1971.

Without a diagram of four-handed Spanish Four Seasons dice-chess we are unable to percieve [sic] how was it in appearance with his 4 groups of 4-colored chess-men representing the 4 Seasons, the 4 Elements, and the 4 Humours or rather Temperaments. In the annexed diagram made after Murray 1913, p. 349, the chess- pieces are not arranged according to the 4 Directions like in the Indian 4-handed Chatturanga. The white pieces representing Winter, Water and Phlegma, are put in the Northeast corner, the black ones representing Autumn, Earth and Melancholy - in the Southeast corner, in the Northwest corner are the green pieces representing Spring, Air and Blood, and finally, we have in the Southwest corner the red pieces standing for Summer, Fire and Choler.

NB two very important things: 1. Each group of pieces occupies

90° of the 360° grades inherent to each square or circle

2. In each corner there are three peaces [sic], King, Rook and Horse, the fourth is, of course, the Alfil /Bishop/, who is situated in one subcorner-square, between the Horse and Rook. There is no Fers, from which derivated our Queen. The promoted pawn became peon alferzado, one to the Fers promoted Pawn. Murray says:

"Green commences, and the order of the play is Green, Red, Black, White.

Each player attacks the player who succeeds him, and defends himself from the player who preceded him. There is no alliance between opposite players.

When a player was mated he fell out, his conqueror appropriated his surviving men, and the 3 survivors continuated [sic] the game. The final survivor won. The game was played for money..."

Murray was not aware that 4SChess was played with 3 dice. That is mentioned/explained in Alfonso's Chess book in the commentary explaining the rules of play for the board-game of the Four Seasons played with 48 uniform shaped small discs painted in the same 4 colours as pieces -and pawns of the 4Schess. These 48 discs may influenced the number of cards in Naipes (7). Alfonso X was known as fond of astronomy and astrology. The unusually chess - and board-games at the end of his MS are astronomic and astrologic. The arrangement of the 4 coloured pieces in the 4SChess is in accordance with the basic astronomic-astrologic principles: to each season is given 90°, and

three pieces to represent the 3 months of the year. Each season occupies a quarter of the year with 91 day expressed by the number 90° of the zodiacal quarter for each season.

Now, I have brought each suit of the four-coloured PC of the past with the Calendar, becauise 1 am firmly convinced that they are derivatives of the S4SChess in MS Alfonso. There must be, therefore, a close connection between the Calendar-symbolism of the four-coloured groups of chess-pieces in S4SC and the four-coloured groups-suits in the European pack of PC 52. My calculations are not of the kind to be found in books of occnltist writers on the Tarot. The most recent example of the last kind runs as follows in The Encyclopedia of Tarot by Stuart S. Kaplan, New York 1978, p. 9-10: ”52 cards in a pack suggest the 52 weeks of the year. 13 cards in each suit suggest the lunar months of the year and the 13 weeks in each quarter, 4 suits in the pack suggest the 4 seasons of the year. 12 court or picture cards in the pack suggest the 12 months of the year and the signs of the zodiac..... The pips on the plan [sic] cards of the 4 suits = 220. The pips on the 12 picture cards = 12. 12 picture cards counted as 10 each = 120. The number of cards in each suit = 13. We shall obtain the number of days in the year, etc., 365. Finally, adding all the letters in ace, 2, 3, etc., through king, the total is 52. The same is true in French and German."

Kaplan himself is not convinced in this calendar symbolism of PC 52, but quotes comparisons made by popular writers of the last century.

Han Janssen In his Speelkaarten, Bussum 1965, in the chapter Cijfergrapjes, p. 113-114, has overpowered Kaplan's examples in this not serious occultist numerology, which has nothing to do with a scientific analysis of a given question to be solved, Dr. W. B. Crow brings in a more serious manner than Janssen and his predecessors the pack of 52 cards in close correction with the Calendar. I am not fond of such occultist speculations,

In support of my symbolic interpretation of PC 52 concerning the greatest number 364 [sic] or 360 as given, [blank space in text, 5 spaces total, 3 spaces for a possible word] the German and Swiss pack of cards, I can quote numerous ethnologic and cultural-morphologic examples known not only from in histories of board- and card-games, but also well established by historians of religious rites, sacred architecture, mystical philosophies, and so

on. But before I undertake to confirm my numbers 365 and 360 by ethnological parallels, it is my duty to declare myself as the follower of the greatest investigator of board-games, and partly card-games of all times and countries. I have in mind the American ethnologist Stewart Culin died in 1929. His work Chess and Playing-Cards, Washington 1898, is, in my opinion, the most important among the dozen of other of his books on board-games and divinatory techniques.

It is a well known fact that Culin derives both chess and PC from the divinatory use of arrows. The basis of all divinatory systems arises, after Culin, from the primeval magical classification of all things according to the Four Directions, This basic magical notion is further high developed in to more magical Directions in the old Chinese view of the world, in the prescientific methods of investigation, of Chinese scholars, as proved in Needham’s many volumes of his Science and Civilisation in China /published in Cambridge before and after 1960. By the way, Needham is an ardent follower, like myself, of the Culin’s method of investigation of structural, numerical and symbolical values in old dice- and board-games, in Chess and PC. I have accepted as true the Culin's ingenious idea, and elaborated it into a consistent system for investigation of board- and card-games. But I have enlarged his Four Directions into further Eight, Ten, Twelve, and Sixteen Directions to cover many sistems [sic] in board- and card-games. Eor example, the Korean PC cannot be explained by Four Directions, but by Eight Magical Directions, according to the Eight Points of the Compass; the Indo-Persian card-game Ganjifa, too, is based upon Eight Directions.

Mr. Dummett invites me to explain the connection between Qanjifa and PC 52. In the former there are two systems involving the Sun- and Moon-years. It is known that the evaluation of pip-cards vary and is inversely depending according to the circumstances, if .the game is played by day or by night. There must be, therefore, a connection between Ganjifa and the solar symbolism in PC 52; but who can explain how European PC 52 has influenced Ganjifa to add the system of Moon-year to the solar year of PC 52? Or possibly, the Spanish Moors have in the 14th

century disjuncted both systems and chose the solar Christian year? Impossible, because they are adorants of the Moon. It is therefore more credible that Muslims in India have added the lunar system of 48 cards to the solar system .of 48 cards in Ganjifa. Seamen of Portugal have possibly imported Naipes in India, for Japan this "cultural” import of a hazard game is proved.

For the explanation of day- and night-symbolism in Ganjifa can possibly help the following example that for India quotes the well known historian of religions, Mircea Eliade: “In Indien findet sich ein noch deutlicheres Beispiel. Wir haben gesehen, dass die Errichtung eines Altars, eine Wiederholung der Kosmogonie ist, dass 'der Feueraltar das Jahr ist' und erklaren seinen Zeitsymbolismus auf folgende Weise: die 360 Einfriedungsziegel entsprechen den 360 Nachten des Jahres und die 360 yajusmati-Ziegel den 360 Tagen /Shatapatha-Brahmana X, 5, 4, 10 usw/. Mit jedem Altarbau wird nicht nur die Welt neu gemacht, sondern auch 'das Jahr errichtet'; mit anderen.Wortern, man regeneriert die Zeit, indem man sie neu erschafft.” (8)

[In India we find an even clearer example. We have seen that the establishment of an altar is a repetition of the cosmogony that 'the fire altar is the year", explaining its time-symbolism in the following manner: the 360 enclosure bricks [or tiles] correspond to 360 nights of the year and the 360 yajusmati bricks [or tiles] to 360 days / Shatapatha Brahmana X, 5, 4, 10, etc. /. With each Altar constructed not only is the world made new, but also 'the year is built’; in other words, one regenerates time by creating anew." (8)]

Dr.H. von Leyden informes [sic] us that India had in the past, too, a king of type Alfonso X in Raja Krishnaraja III of Maisur /1794-1868/. He wrote the book Kautuknidhi containing description of King’s 13 various games of cards, named chada. They embrace in a pack from 36 till 360 cards. (9) They treat cosmologic, mythologic, epic and astrologic themes.

An Old Indian Sutra requires 360 songs-hymns for the morning litany. (10) In Mahabharata are mentioned 360 cows as mothers of the /cosmic/ calf, in fact the Sun disc. Both examples do make allusion on the circuit of the 360 days of the year (11).

The atmospheric charming ghosts apsaras /female/ are enumerated 360 for preference. They decide the fate of men and of hazard-players whose dice fall down at will of apsaras. They are depicted, too, holding dice in their hands. (12).

The most famous rite in the past of India was the sacrifice of a horse, ashvamedha, for Raja’s long life and prosperity. After a rigide [sic] request of the ritual the animal was left to live in freedom at will during 365 days of a year, before it was sacrificed. (13)

Chinese examples with the numbers 360 and 365 are more interesting, and more numerous. The most known is that in the famous board-game Go, or Chinese, Wei-ci [accent acute over c]. The square of the board is intersected by 19x19 lines. Round the central point, named the heart of the Universe, are progressively arranged the other 360 points in concentric squares. Two players, white/Red/ and Black, have each 180 uniform discoidal counters of glass. They are posted alternatively on the 360 points of the board, encircling each other in white and black groups. The 4 angles each with 90° represent the Four Seasons, 4 points in vicinity of the 4 angles are marked with asterisks and represent 4 of the 8 kua from the famous divining Book of Changes. These 4 trigrams are named in Go: sun or Wind, in the nortbwest, khan, or Water, in the Southwest, khun, or earth, in the Northeast, and cien [accent acute over c], or Heaven, in the Southeast, Ci [accent acute over c] is spoken like Chi, but not hard. (14) [NB: Chinese Four, resp. Eight Directions are different, not the same as on our rose of winds; we see the same or very similar ideas from the astrologic lore are taken as constructive principles both in Spanish chess of the Four Seasons, and in Go. PC 52 contain the same astrologic basis, for otherwise they could not be used as instrument for fortune~telling, I am not fond of astrology and her horoscopes but I can not dis-prove the evident proofs for the true origin of board- and card-games as given by the Kings Alfonso X and Raja Krishnaraja III, and by the famous scholars Culin and Needham.(15).

It is important to hear what Culin says about the cosmologic symbolism in Go: "Simple as the game appears, it embodies a certain complex elements based upon primitive notions of the universe, which, although they may in part be secondary and late additions, are of the highest interest. Thus the points, black and white, are regarded as representing the nights and days, the 4 "angles" the 4 seasons, and the 361 of intersection of the board /360+1/ the nights and days in the year, 9 stations at the intersections, which are marked with spots upon the board, are, in the same manner, said to correspond with the 9 Lights of Heaven /Sun, Moon, and the 7 stars of the Dipper/". (16)

The 360+1 crossed points are, in my opinion, more connected with the 360° along the circle of the Zodiac. The board of Go is therefore an astrologic quadrature of the heavenly circuit of the Sun.

It is well known that Chinese chess contains, like the Indian Caturanga [accent acute on C], 32 pieces, but they are placed and moved as red and black painted discs, with the name of each figure, on the 90 points of intersection. The middle 'River', Milky Way, divides the both camps, each containing 45 points, Chinese chess-playing-cards are made by 4x32 chess-pieces painted with their names in 4 colours: Green, White, Red, and Yellow.

The numerical values of the 32 chess-pieces are given in a Chinese encyclopedia as follows: General/King = 20, Chariot/Rook = 10, Cannon = 7, Horse/Knight = 6; Elefant/Bishop 4; Adjutant/Queen 3; and Soldier/Pawn = 2, Two Rooks are valued 20, 2 Cannons 14, 2 Horses 12, 2 Bishops 8, 2 Adjutants 6, and 5 Pawns 10. Now, Kings/Generals’ value is said 20, plus that of 2 R 40, plus that of 2 C 54, plus that of 2 H 66, plus that of 2 B 74, plus that of 2 A 80, plus that of 5 P 90, The total value of playing discs in one camp ils, accordingly, the same as the number of points in a half of the board. (17) The 32 pieces in Chinese chess have the value 180.

Now, when the Chinese chess-playing cards are made by the formula 4x32 = 128 chess PC on paper or pasteboard, their value must be, of course, 4x180 = 780 [sic], or 360 plus 360. We have obtained possibly the number of days and nights in a year, like in the Indian ritualistic construction of an altar by 360 plus 360 tiles representing days and nights of a year.

The essential point is, that the Chinese regard their chess not as a total with the numerical value 360 like in Go, but as a quarter of the world with 90 points. By fourfolding the number 90 they succeed to have in the 4 suits/groups of their chess-playing cards the grand number of the Universe, 360, or more precisely, twice 360. (18)

In support of my not-occultistic numerological investigations of Calendar-symbolism as found in board- and card-games of Old and Middle Ages, I can quote some other examples chosen from the ethnologic/folk/lore from Scandinavia, Ancient Mexico and Egypt.

The wellknown [sic] chess-historian Murray has given an excellent elaborate mini-monography on the Norss board-game tafi /meaning table/ or hnefatafl, in his History of Board-games other than Chess, Oxford 1952, p, 55-64. On page 7 Murray says that the board had originally 18x18 cells, but that ii was reduced to 11x11 cells in Wales under the name Tawlbwrdd, to 9x9 cells in Lapland under the name Tablut, to 7x7 cells in Ireland under on [sic] unrecorded name. In Pre-conquest England the game was named Tafl, in Scandinavia and Iceland Tafl, or Hnefatafl, after the name Hnefi /King?/ of the principal white piece. /l.c .p. 55 and foll./

Now, Hnefatafl was originally played, as yet mentioned, on a board of 18x18 cells, but the white and black men were placed and moved not on the cells but along the 560+1 points like in Go. Murray says: "Two persons play, one having a king, placed on the central point or cell /like in Tablut, P.B./ and a number of men who are arranged symmetrically round the edge of the board. Both king and men posses [sic] the rook's move in chess. Men are captured by interception, the central cell /or point, P.B./ counting for this purpose as occupied by the side making the capture; the king is only captured if the 4 adjacent cells in row end columnare [sic] all occupied by enemy men. A man can move to a cell between 2 enemy men without capture. Ths player with the king wins if in his turn of play the king has an open row or column to the edge of the board; his opponent wins if he captures the king. In his wonderful treatise De Iside et Osiride Plutarch informs us, in Chapter 12, how god Hermes /Egyptian Thoth/ played with the goddess of Moon Selena a board-game in the course of a year consisting of 360 days, Hermes succeeds to win from each day a 1/72, accordingly 360 x 1/72, from which parts he made five whole days, so that the year could have 365 days. In the named 5 days are born one after the other Osiris, Horus, Typhon, Isis and Nephtys.

Dr. Max Pieper comments the story of Plutarch as follows: "This story is now for us instructive insomuch, as to show; that with the Egyptians had existed a game whose winning rule! was, to express it in contemporain [sic] German, to score 360 Points. How was that possible on a board with 30 cells?"

Pieper has in mind the ancient Egyptian board-game Sen’t played on a board, in the form of a rectangle 3x10, His size was in accordance with the Egyptian month consisting of 30 days and 3 weeks, each having 10 days.

Pieper points to a Greek papyrus found at Oxyrrynchos, explaining the riddled winning rule as given by Plutarch. The papyrus describes a game-board with 30 squares and explains that winner is that player who succeeds to score 360 by moving his counters from the 15th till the 30th square. And in fact, if we sum the numbers from I5 till 30 it appears from their addition the astronomic number 360.

The first square in Sen't was named after the ancient Moon-god Thoth, the last after the young Sun-god Horus. Most of other squares bore names of various gods and goddesses; four squares were named after Fire, Water, Orion and Nighty [sic] Sky." (19)

In Herodot's History there are numerous examples with the numbers 360, 365. In the tomb of Tutank-Amon were found 365 statuettes of field-workers to serve the young pharaon [sic] in his life post mortem. (20)

J. Needham cites in Volume 2 of his monumental history of scientific researches in Ancient and Medieval China the following list of prescientific classification after the astrologic number 360: "Of feathered animals there are 360 kinds /there would be, of course, on account of the approximative number of days in the year - commentary of Needham/, and the phoenix is their headman; of hairy animals - 360 kinds, and the unicorn is their headman; of animals with carapaces 360 kinds, and the dragon is their headman; and of naked animals 360 kinds, and the Sage is their headman.'' (21)
The carapace of the tortoise was interpreted as representing the heaven-firmament by her upper voluted half, and the Earth by her flat half. In the techniques of divination, magicians in Ancient China burned by fire the heavenly half of the carapace, and co\uld afterwards discern 360 very small splits, after which fortune-telling was made. (22)

In the famous Chinese medieval art of acupuncture there were primitively discerned along human body 360 different points for puncture /now, their number is doubled/. They were situ-

ated in 12 groups and 4 zones. The same things we have in ancient and medieval board~ and card-games. European PC 52 can play the role of an instrument for fortune-telling only upon the fact that their composition with its numerical values is made in accordance with pseudoscientific principles of the magical divinatory art of astrology.

Mr. Dummett says on page 78, in commencement: "... Detlef Hoffmann has amply demonstrated that divination with playing cards is a very late development. "

This assertion cannot be true, because Dom. fr, John is evidencing for the use of PC 52 in his time /1377/ to predict good and bad fortune. I am sorry that Dr. Hoffmann does not mention the name of fr. John in both his books of 1972 /Wahrsagekarten with collaboration of Mrs Erika Kroppenstedt. The evidence of fr. John is of so great importance that it deserves to be cited in Latin original and English translation:

"Nam communis forma et sicut primo pervenit ad nos est talis quod quatuor reges depinguntur in quatuor cartulis quorum quilibet sedet in regali solio. Et aliguid certum signum habet in manu. EX QUIBUS SIGNIS ALIQUA REPUTANTUR SIGNA BONA, ALIA AUTEM MALUM SIGNIFICANT /high letters by me, P.B. According to the MS of Basle from 1429, F.IV.43, Leaf 3r.

Translation in English by E, A, Bond in 1878, see JPCS, l.c. p. 70: "For the common form and as the first came to us is thus, viz. four kings are depicted on four cards, each of whom sits an a royal throne. And each holds a certain sign in his hand, OF WHICH SOME ARE REPUTED GOOD, BUT OTHER SIGNIFY EVIL".

55 years prior of fr.John there is the evidence of the Jewish writer Kalonymos b. Kalonymos writing in Catalonia 1322 his book Eban Bechan /Proof-Stone/, His klemazpia is in my opinion, rather an instrument of prevision than that of vision. In his time PC were not knowm in Spain in form of Naips but only in their protoform of dice-game Grescha consisting only of 36 "eyes"--cards, The eyes are, of course, the black dots of dice from which paper cards evolueted [sic] 969 in China, and about or prior of 1300, in Spain, Both transformations of dice-eyes into numbered with pips PC are made by lovers of magic and astrology, not by common people, to serve as instruments of

fortune-telling. It is an universal law that instruments for gambling and hazard-games are used at first in their primeval holy stadium in sacred religious and magical rites. Their use as games for recreation and gambling out of sacred rites is a much posterior phase in the origin and evolution of board- and card-games.

In support of my conjecture that Kalonymos mentions Grescha as a dice-eyes card-game for pre-vision of good or bad fortune, can serve Chinese dominoes. They are known as unique fortune-telling instrument among yellow nations, especially in China. Chinese dominoes have their progenitors either in dice or in Chinese dice-PC. Needham derives Chinese dominoes, ya phai, from the cubical dice, and Chinese PC, yeh tzu, from dominoes, who are, after Needham, too, the progenitors of the famous game, ma chhiao, or Ma Jongg. (23) He refers in his Table 53: Chart to show genetic relationships of games and divinatlon techniques... to pages of Culin’s work Chess and Flaying Cards, Washington I895. Very important is the title of Needham's Chart: Astronomical Symbolism! Needham is guided, like myself, by the famous phrase of Culin; "The games are based upon certain fundamental conceptions of the Universe."

Gerhard von Kujawa derives dominoes from the sticks of Runen, Runenstäbe, who are thrown by the priest or king to pose questions to oracle. PC atr, after von Kujawa, too, derivatives of dominoes, and the card-game is, in his turn, a fruit of printing art (24)

I agree with Schreiber's supposition that at first appeared among Muslims the 36 numbered from 1 till 9 pip-cards. They are fortliving [sic] in Spanish Naipes who are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9; the Court-cards Kings, Horses or Horsemen, aiid Jacks are numbered resp, 10, 11 and 12. If we add the 4 Queens with their respective number 13, we shall obtain a true Four Seasons PC pack with the general numerical value 360. My joke with the jo-ker [sic] in 1973 was, of course, not serious. I had forgotten, then, that Joker appeared in PC about the middle of the 19th century. Amnesis senilis!

The Catalan word daus in Swiss and German PC-systems is a strong proof for my assertion that Naipes reached possibly prior of

1400 both sides of Alpes. The highly evolueted [sic] Aces /from Spanish-Catalan el as/ with their Banners are now represented in the Swiss and German 10s. The numeral X is a later addition. The transformation of the Aces into the 10s can rest on conscious or subconscious motifs of man's soul, to have in PC the number of totality 360, the preferred symbol of perfection /as given in the circle of Heaven or the square of Earth/ in Astrology of all times. (25) The assertion of Dom. fr. John that there were 52 cards as they reached Germany in 1377, do not give support to my supposition. Nulla regula sine exceptlone! The Catalan word daus can serve, of course, as support for my assertion,

I do not revive the etymology of Naipes from nabi /that is impossible/, but only suggest that PC in Spain have had possibly two Arab names; a secret name Nabi meaning prophet, and a public name Naib, a consciously corrupted anagram of Nabi.

Destruction of an 550 years old illusion; The famous gold-coin suit has NEVER existed in PC and Tarot!
I am sorry that Mr. Dummett did not take into consideration the following three, in my opinion, very important phrases on page 15 of my paper in 1973: "In den Händen der als Adligen aufgefassten Schachfiguren bei Jacobus de Cessolis und in den Händen der als Angehörige von Handsberufen ausgedeuteten Schachbauern finden sich viele Gegenstände, unter anderen auch die Zeichen der vierfarbigen Spielkarten. Wir brauchen sie deshalb nicht am Hofe des mameluckischen Sultans in Aegypten zu suchen, wie es Rosenfeld ausdrucklich betont, Alles im Kartenspiel ist durch und durch westeuropäisch: Trachten, Zeichen, Farben, format und Jahreszeitensymbolik."

[“In the hands of the nobles conceived as chess pieces by Jacobus de Cessolis and in the hands of the family of professions indicating chess pawns, there are many items, among others the signs of the four colored playing cards. We therefore do not need to look at the court of the Mamluk sultan in Egypt, as Rosenfeld expressly emphasizes, Everything in the card game of cads is through and through Western European: costumes, characters, colors, dimensions and Seasons symbolism.”]

With the last phrase /without 4 Seasons Symbolism/ agrees with me Van der Linde /1874/, Brunet y Ballet /1886/, and many other PC-scholars.

The destruction of’ the ill-fated nonexistent gold-coin-suit is based upon following arguments:

Since more than 10 years I was aware that the Spain oros, rcsp. Italian denari, and the German-Swiss Schellen could not derive from the misinterpretation of any common ancestral gold coin. The discrepancy between the two suit signs is so great that

they do not confer on the very slightest probability of a common money origin. I was searching after the true genetic source for the 4 suit signs, and my knowledge of chess-history literature enabled me to find out the second chess source for the iconography of PC 52 in the famous I3th/14th chess sermon Liber de moribus hominium et officiis nobilium super ludo scachorum by the Dominican friar Jacobus de Cessolis /Dom. fr. Jacob/, native of Cessole d'Asti in Lombardy, Italy / His sermon is registered in many European Libraries, in more than 100 MS and prints, under shortened title De ludo scachorum. Italian chess historian Dr. Adriano Chicco states in his Chess Encyclopedia “Friar Jacob predicated long time in Lombardy; between 1317 and 1322 he was in Genova, in the Convent of St. Dominic.” This statement is not firmly proved. (26)

The pattern after which Dom, fr, John compiled his PC sermon of 1377 was possibly an original Latin MS of De ludo Scachorum, or more credibly, in my opinion, the not printed French MS-translation of Latin MS of Dom. fr, Jacob, made by the Paris Dom. fr.Jean /Jehan/ Ferron. His translation into French of chess sermon by fr. Jacob was finished on parchment, on May 4, 1347, in Paris. The second MS of the same translation was made in 1352 on leaves of parchment, adorned with 16 miniatures ingold and colours representing the chess pieces as noblemen, and pawns as labourers and workers. (27)

This pictured 1352 chess pieces in the form of 16 coloured miniatures are trough [sic] the centuries searched chess patterns for European PC 52.

In his PC: sermon of 1377 John connects, in Preface, L.2v. morality of chess and PC twofold, in Part I, and makes allusion .to the. friar of his order, the notnamed [sic] author of chess morality. It may be Jacob, or his translator in Paris, Dom. fr. Ferron. Here the words of fr, John: ”... Materie autem huius tractatus trahi possunt ad ludum scacarum utrobiqne sint regine et principes et vulgares ut sic sit quasi tractatus utriusque ludi in materia morali...
Nam quilibet ludus realis aliquid pretendit et significat genere moris quad per exorcicium ludi figuratur ut patet de ludo scacarum/ in the margin: Alius Autor ab illo/ de quo eciam qui-

dam frater ordinis nostri pulcrum composuit tractatum ipsumque ludum trabendo ad hominium mores”/ l. c, Part 1 Chap l, L.5r./ The Part II of Cessolis’ chess sermon is connected with the noble chessmen and their duties, the part II with the pawns interpreted as commoners representing different working men, Friar Jacob had given in detail very precise instructions concerning the iconography of both main divisions of European medieval society. The clergy is not represented. Why? Because fr. Jacob had in mind to satirize, not to praise the hierarchy of nobility. That is my opinion and of West German chess historian Egbert Meissenburg. (28)

Now, in Chapter 1, Part II, it is given, in the commencement, the clue for the solving the mystery about the ill-fated misinterpretation of King's gold apple as gold coin oro in Spain /Portugal, resp. denari in Italy, and yellow, gilt Schellen in Switzerland and Germany. The Chapter 1 concerns the King and is entitled in Cessolis’ chess sermon De forma et moribus capitulum; it beginns [sic] as follows: "Rex sic formam accepit a principio, Nam in solio positus fuit purpures indutus regali, que est vestis regalis hominis, in capita corona, in manu dextra haberis sceptrum et in sinistra pilam rotundam, id est pomum Aureum". King's gold apple! That is misinterpreted as oro in Spain/Portugal, and as gilt Schellen in Swiss/Germany (29). From the annexed 15 miniatures to be found in the German translation of Cessoliade /chess sermon of Cessolis/, made in 1407 (30), there may be drawn the following conclusions:

1, The two horsemen: the Rook or King's legate, and the Knight, are smelted together into the PC unique mounted figure-card of Caballero or caballo in Latin Naipes /Knights, Horsemen in Tarot PC 54/. Who can say the true verity about the chess origin of PC? We have; three different systems; Latin PCS 48, French-English PCS 52, Tarot PCS 54. Swiss-German PCS 48 can be interpreted as a variation of Naipes or as an abbreviated form of PCS 52.

2. The Queen holds the sign of sceptre upwards like the King. This royal symbol .is in the form of fleur-de-lis, so often found on certain court cards. His origin in now plausibly explained from the colored chess-cards.

3. Knight holds his sword upwards.

4. The second horseman is Rook interpreted in Cessoliades as King's legate. He holds in the annexed chess-cards a branchelet with flowers. In other versions of PC, he holds a staff.
Cessolis says: "habens in manu dextra virgam extensam." A flower, rose, is mentioned in Guldin Spil of Dom. fr. Ingold, writing in 1432, among the suits signs. In the Swiss PC the rose is preserved as sign instead of cups or hearts.

5. The Pawn numbered 8 is the workman before the judge /Al-il [or Alfil?] in Medieval chess/, now Bishop. This Pawn holds two signs upwards: a sword-shaped shear and a long knife, Cessolis says: "habet in manu sua dextra forcipem, in sinistra gladium acutum et magnum."

6. The Pawn numbered 10 is the physician-apothecary before the Queen. She holds two signs upwards, an open book and a pharmaceutic vessel. The same chess-card is interpreted as playing-card on the title page of Gatherings in honor of Dorothy B. Miner, edited by Ursula E. McCracken and others. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1974

8, The Pawn numbered 11 is the inn-keeper with a small viny vessel. Both vessels are interpreted in PC as viny cups, chalices, goblets.

9. The second group hold most of signs downwards, and is headed by the King's Judges named in Cessoliades Alfins, They hold upon the knees an open book. This chess card is a true icona, and explains the vehement sermons preached by Capistrano and other churchmen against the PC in the early 15th cent.

10, And the last, but not the least, because today the first, is the Pawn a2, rcsp. a7, numbered 15 in my source. Cessolis says; "... habens. in manu dextra modicam pecuniam, in sinistra vero tres taxillos, et in corda, quam habet pro cingulo, pixidam litteris plenam. He is ribaldus, lusor et cursor. It may be that he is fortliving [sic; fort = strong] in the Swiss /Brief/ Botte, Stadtläufer, and that his dice and coin may throw some light on the same things in Tarot first card of the Magician.

To make a summary: All sorts of staves and branches, together with the royal scepter are reduced to the suit of Clubs or Bastos, Bastoni, All sorts of sharp or other weapons am3 instru-

ments are reduced to the suit of Spadas, or Espadas. Spades, All sorts of coins- together with the misinterpreted King’s gold apple, are reduced to the suit of Oros, Denari or Schellen. And finally, the two vessels in the hands of apothecary and innkeeper are reduced, as yet said, to the suit of Cups, Culin is right; The classification in the new invented divinatory card-game, thrown out from the chess card-pieces, is made according to the Four Directions, to represent Four Seasons, Four Elements, The staves are, of course, combustibles, the source of fire, and they symbolize the Element of Fire. The cups are ready to be filled with all sorts of fluid matter, called in Astrology Element of Water. Wine, too, is but a kind of fluidity, like all other liquids. The wholy [sic] matter in the state of all sorts of water, like rain, melted snow, wine, all apothecary liquids, and so on, is called in Astrology-Alchemistry, and occult science Water.

The hard metallic coins, no matter if of gold, silver or diamond, represent the solid matter, called in above pseudoscience Earth. Finally, the metallic swords stand for the fourth element of Air or Wind.

That my interpretation is on right lines, can serve in support the chosen symbols in the oldest European PC, the “Hunting" Pack of Stuttgart from about 1427/1430, and the Ambras Hofjagdspiel, from about 1440/45.

The 4 suit signs in the former are falcons representing the Element of Air, ducks representing the Element of Water, stags representing the Element of Fire, because their homestead, forest or wood, is source for combustibles producing fire. And finally, the fourth suit sign is hound, an animal bound to the earth.

In the second “Hunting” Pack of Ambras, falcons and herons stand for Air and Water, hounds and lures for Earth and Fire. Warmth is a product of eating.

It is generally assumed that Cessolis began in 1275 to preach about the morality based on the symbolic Interpretations of great chess pieces as noblemen and small pawns as commoners. Most of the authorities are convinced that in the same year 1275 or possibly not much later friar Jacob began to write his

sermon. Both chess sources for the explanation of iconography and composition of PC 52, Cessoliade of l275 and Alfonsiade of 1283 may be dated back to the same mediaval period, the last quarter of the 13th century.

I am deeply convinced that our PC originated among friars - lovers of astrology, and other in secret taught occult sciences. We are indebted to these '‘black Magicians", may be among Dominican friars, for the invention of PC. The first document with the corrupted name of PC ludus cartorum instead of ludus cartarum, is found in the archives of the convent of Monte Cassino in Italy, in 1371. In my paper of 1973 I have elucidated the plausibility for the acceptance of ludus cartorum to be read as ludus cartarum. The learned monks of Monte Cassino have coined the first expression in a humorous wordplay after the performed business /work/ in the market-hall of the town.

The true PC /not the dice-PC-Grescha of 1303/ have not existed, in my opinion, prior to the year 1352. The 16 illuminated chess pieces miniatures in the second French translation of Cessoliade by Dom. fr. John Ferron have possibly inspired after 1352 some of his colleagues to add to the pip-cards of Grescha the pictured chess-pieces. The number of 52 leaves of parchment upon which is written the second Ferron's translation of Cessoliade, as they are preserved in the Royal Library at Stockholm, might have suggested the mind of the inventor of PC to transfer his ideas on the same number of 52 leaves of PC, probably made of parchment in a time when paper fabrication was not in existence in Europe, in the true sense of the word.

With the destruction of the famous, but in fact not existent in the true sense of the word suit of gold coins, should be annihilated for ever the supposition of the 9 fervent apologists in favour of the Oriental origin of European PC 52. I have in mind the nine stars on the historical scene where Orientalists and Occidentalists fight their battles about the Great Question They are:

1. Stewart Culin who started with an article in 1895, Origin of Playing Cards - Journal of American Folklore/ July 1895, with the thesis that the suits in Chinese paper-money-cards,

esp. money suit may have inspired the coin suit, and the whole set of European PC 52.

2. Henry William Wilkinson who started also in 1895 with a similar idea in his article The Chinese Origin of Playing Cards in: “American Anthropologist”, Washington, January 1855, Vol. 8, p. 61.

3. Thomas Francis Carter: The Invention of Printing in China, and its Spread Westwards, Hew York. He started with two thesis [sic]: Ancestors of PC may have been either ancient Taoist seal-charms or they are derivatives from early Chinese dice, attested in 969 as leaves-on-dice.

4. Henri Alibaux, a French sinologist, accepted the second thesis of Carter in his book L’invention de l’imprimerie en Chine et en Occident, Paris 1957. This book was destiné à l’usage privé, and it is therefore almost unavailable,

5. Hellmut Rosenfeld published in the last 22 years papers in favour of the Indian origin of PC 52. They would be a derivative, without a board, of the Hindu Four Persons Dice-chess Chaturanga, In his two articles of 1973 and 1977, however, he believes not more in his thesis, and points to Persia as birthland both of European, Indian and Chinese /il/ PC.

6. Joseph Needham started in 1962 in favour of Chinese origin of PC from their dominoes. He is, however, not aware of contradiction that Chinese dominoes appeared in 1220 and Chinese dice-PC in 969. European PC are derivatives from Chinese PC.

7. Richard Ettinghausen wrote in 1974, in his Further Comments on Mamluk Playing-Cards: "In any case, the Spanish naypes cards have preserved for us - what I assume to be - the tradition of all male Islamic court-cards."

8. Rndolf von Leyden presented 1975 in Leinfelden his paper "Oriental Playing-cards” An attempted Exploration of Relationships. He cannot conceive how it was possible that PC suddenly appeared in 1377 in Europe "from nothing". He points therefore, too., to the Orient as homeland of PC, and to Mamluk Egypt as transition-land for European PC.

9. And finally, the God-Father of Tarot, Stuart R. Kaplan, writes in his monumental Encyclopedia of Tarot, in his conclusions on page 345: "It is likely that some artistic indi-

vidual, probably of eastern origin ‘invented’ card designs in the fourteenth century, as evidenced by the Mamluk cards bearing Islamic influence. These court cards, which lack pictures, and the pip cards were probably brought across the Mediterranean to enter Europe through either Spain or Italy. Subsequently, in the early fifteenth century another creative person devised the twenty-two trionfi. It is conceivable, although doubtful, that early court and pip cards were influenced by chess and dice..."

On page 56 Kaplan says: "If Mamluk cards are the Miss Ing (my wordplay). Link in the migration of playing cards from Asia to Europe, then it is conceivable that the fifteenth-century Italian suit signs of spade, bastoni, coppe and denari are adaptations of earlier Islamic suits of scimitars, polo sticks, cups and coins. Polo sticks, not generally recognisable in Europe, may have been stylised as staves and batons."

The same Kaplan has, however, discredited on page 6 the curved form of Islamic scimitars as they appear in most Italian tarot packs. Kaplan gives the following plausible explanation for the autochton Italian curvity of the suited swords: "In most tarot packs the suited swords are curved and interlace at top and bottom, while the staves or batons are straight and interlace at the center. This is one easy method of distinguishing between the otherwise similar, and sometimes confusing, suits of swords and staves.”

What is now true: That Mamluk copists [sic] of Italian PC with the suited curved swords have interpreted the last signs as scimitars, resp. curved sabres, or that Italians copists have adopted the Mamluk scimitars as curved swords?

The following three things are doubtless: 1. The green colour of the Latin suit bastos, bastoni, do not appear in Mamluk PC of Istanbul Museum in Top-Capi-Saray. Mamluk copists of Italian PC could not it adopte [sic] because the holy colour of the Islamic religion is green as attested upon their holy emblem: the green flag contered with a yellow halfmoon and a yellow fivestar. 2. The winered [sic] segment of Latin cups do not appear also in the upper part of the Mamluk cups. They are throughout gilt, resp. without a red viny segment in the mouth. The wine

is forbidden by the Prophet to the followers of his religion. 3. The dragons upon the Mamluk cards are inexplicable from the Islamic religion forbidding pictorial representation of human and animal beings. The dragons may be rather an Islamic decorative adaptation from Portugiese [sic] cards bearing pictures of dragons on the four Aces.
Postscript by Michael S. Howard (from, with additions suggested by others later in the thread)
Here are links to works that Bidev refers to:
And for further discussion of John of Rheinfelden, see  Pratesi, "Various cards at Basel in 1377 or in 1429," translated in this blog and at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1095#p16830. Discussion in that thread and in viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1093. More at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1094

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