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Ludophone  Ludophone is offline
Join Date: 07 Mar 2016
Location: Budapest, Hungary
Posts: 24

The Benaki 3 of cups (9a) is from a rare suit system that Sylvia Mann labelled "archaic". Tor Gjerde has, I believe, conveniently organized all known cards and sheets of that suit system, with the exception of the Benaki card, into four groups. You can check them here: It is interesting to compare it with Wintle's Spanish sheet:

On a side note, the tarot deck that uses this suit system has been reproduced here:

Dummett has suspected that these cards are Ferrarese rather than Venetian for several reasons. The most important one was the spelling of "ten". In Ferrara it is "diexe" just like on the cards while in Venice it is "diese".

Ettinghausen speculates that the importation of European cards killed off local Egyptian/Syrian manufacturers who could no longer compete. As some of the cards found in Fustat, Cairo look deliberately damaged, it is likely that in the late 16th century, Ottoman authorities took a much harder stance against cards and gambling and banned them entirely. It won't be until the 19th century when cards were allowed back into their empire. Johann Ludwig Burckhardt claimed he saw Chinese cards in Mecca before the ban was lifted though.
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