2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

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In this post I am offering a translation of a February 2016 essay by Franco, at http://www.naibi.net/A/505-ISLAMCARD-Z.pdf, that I have been meaning for a while to examine. Since my Italian is not good enough to read it straight, I have to translate as I go. Since Franco is a careful writer, I have to try to get the details. And I might as well share the result.

Both this essay and his more recent one on John of Rheinfelden (translated at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1095#p16830) are, as he suggests in the introduction to the one on John, reflections in the wake of his discovery published in The Playing Card vol. 44, no. 3, of clear evidence that playing cards were not only known in Florence of 1377 but played all over town. That essay does not have to be translated (although I hope to) to be appreciated: the results are in the English-language abstract, with the impressive details graphically displayed on the map that constitutes his Fig. 1, at the very end of the article (online at http://www.naibi.net/A/423-1377-Z.pdf). Here is the abstract:
Two books of the Podestà of Florence, with records from July to October 1377, have been examined for this study. In addition to the expected captures of gamblers playing the dice game of Zara - about one hundred- a dozen captures can be read there for players of Naibi, at such an early stage. All these players were Florence dwellers, living in six different parishes all around the town. The spread of the game in Florence is commented on, as well as the implicit confirmation that a remarkable production of playing cards was already established there.
How is that possible, given the absence of any evidence of their presence before then? How could the complicated art of card-making have reached such levels of production in so short time as to escape prior notice? (In fact some chronicles even say that cards were introduced only within the same year.) The same question can be asked about the variety of decks described by John, apparently in the same year, if that can be believed--the issue is not settled--who also says that playing cards were newly arrived there. So it is necessary to look toward the only other people in the area thought to have playing cards significantly before then, the Muslims. There, too, assumptions must be re-examined, presenting, as we shall see, new problems.

On Islamic Cards


1. Introduction

When historical research on the origin of the main popular games in Europe is pushed back to the time of the Middle Ages and further, our knowledge of Romance languages and literature, even Latin and Greek, is no longer enough: we must turn to the experts on Arab, Indian, and Chinese language and literature. The path most studied is that of chess, but card games have some similar aspects. These days historians are virtually unanimous in recognizing the place and time of the origin of playing cards as China before the Millennium; However, the path followed by cards from their regions of origin to Europe, probably more of a road, unfortunately has left few traces. Regarding India, whether the typical local playing cards there only spread from those already in Europe in the sixteenth century has been discussed at length (however, I am not aware of the latest research).

In Europe, however, the cards did not arrive from India, nor could they arrive directly from China. The most logical hypothesis credited by historians is that they arrived from the Islamic world, just as chess had arrived from the Islamic civilization a few centuries earlier. That, geographically speaking, it comes from the Far East to Europe through the Middle East cannot be a cause for surprise! There are countless products, even cultural products, that have diffused in the same direction; why not, like chess, also playing cards? However, a substantial and very significant difference is encountered: the game of chess is preserved in many Arab sources, from which we see that it was a game appreciated at the highest levels of culture and power and was imported to Europe as already a "game of kings"; there are still several obscure aspects of detail for the transmission of that game, but the basic lines are clear, at least as far as the transfer from the Islamic to the European-Western world.

Instead, for playing cards, the situation is quite different; the great Michael Dummett spoke of it at length in his principal

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book 1 and even published a special study on the mamluk cards, the cards kept in Istanbul 2, which, since being described for the first time, have always represented a milestone for those seeking evidence of the spread of playing cards in the Islamic world. An extended, more recent discussion of the whole question by the same author can be read in his book in Italian 3. However we are surprised to find along with the mamluk cards only one card and a few fragments that would seem to go back to epochs preceding their introduction into Europe.

If I have not badly misunderstood, a reference to cards in the Islamic context must be understood in a singular way. Religious rules followed by the majority of Muslims prevented the card games they found from following the usual path from the Far East to Europe, which could not in this case find the usual intermediary in the Arab world. The reason why the cards were able to overcome this "barrier" has been associated with the Mamluks. One might say that in the westward diffusion, the cards arrived up to the regions around the Caspian Sea, where different populations, Turkish or similar, were allocated, which to the Arab world provided the Mamluks, highly sought slaves mainly because they were all very skilled riders. For their superior military capabilities, it happened that the Mamluk leaders who served under Islamic governments of other countries advanced in the army and government hierarchy until reaching the top, and even, in the particular case of Egypt, supplanting the Ayyubid dynasty, to its extinction. So the card games among them were not forbidden, or existed in less rigorous form, and could be noticed and copied by European observers.

To look for traces of card games among the Mamluks and in Islamic culture in general it becomes essential to deepen our historical knowledge. On games of chance in Islamic culture I happened recently to read a book that shows already in its title its interest in the issue in the question 4; precisely this book will be used as the basis for the reflections that follow.
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1. M. Dummett, The Game of Tarot, London 1980.
2. M Dummett, K Abu-Deeb, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, XXXVI (1973) 106-128.
3. M. Dummett, Il mondo e l’angelo. Naples 1993.
4. F. Rosenthal, Gambling in Islam. Leiden 1975.

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2. The author and the book

Franz Rosenthal (1914-2003) was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Berlin and at university studied, in particular, various languages and ancient literatures. After graduating in Berlin in 1935, he taught at various locations, including initially a year in Florence. Shortly after, as a German Jew, he had to seek refuge from Nazism, emigrating and later finding teaching duties successively in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States; during the Second World War he collaborated with the federal agencies with translations from Arabic and in 1943 obtained US citizenship. Returning to the academic environment after the war, he taught at Yale University as "Louis M. Rabinowitz Professor of Semitic languages" until 1967 and then as Sterling Professor Emeritus of Arabic until 1985, also in New Haven, Connecticut, where he remained until his death. President of the American Oriental Society, he wrote many works generally considered of great importance and originality analyzing critically many aspects of Islamic culture.

Since his book already indicated in the Introduction is the main source for this study, it will be appropriate to dedicate to it a few lines of illustration before getting to the information of specific interest. It is a beautiful edition, a book of 192 pages bound in whole canvas with titles stamped in gold, printed at Leiden (Fig. 1); the publisher. E. J. Brill, known for its numerous scholarly publications, appreciated internationally, as they are often among the best reference books, especially for oriental languages and related culture more generally. It is not hard to find information on this publisher, meanwhile become "royal" (Koninklijke Brill NV).

A book so serious and important, where is it to be found in Italy? Searching OPAC, we remain very disappointed: the only example recorded for all Italian libraries would be present in the Library of the Department of Oriental Studies of the University La Sapienza in Rome. However, in addition to recalling the academic level of the author, it is possible to present another fact in favor of the validity of the book in question: along with other works by Franz Rosenthal it was republished in 2014 by the same publisher in a new edition 5.
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5. F. Rosenthal, D. Gutas, Man versus society in medieval Islam. 2 vols. Leiden 2014.

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Figure 1 - The book used in the text.

It is to be hoped that the price of $246 for the work shown is valid for the two volumes, not only for the first; however, this book also is not easy to find in libraries, and even in bookstores, at least currently.


3. Specific reference and Eastern citations

Considering the rarity of the book mentioned above, it is useful to copy the entire section of interest in playing cards, before commenting on its contents; This is in the book described, on pages 62 and 63, just below the title “Playing cards”.
Due to the discoveries by L. A. Mayer and R. Ettinghausen of playing cards from Mamluk Egypt, it is now virtually certain that we have here the ancestors of the type of Western European playing cards most familiar to us. While for most of the cards a fifteenth-century date is assumed, R. Ettinghausen has

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tentatively suggested that a card discovered by him is much earlier, possibly going back to late Fatimid times. We have no information how exactly those cards were used, but, as Ettinghausen has shown on the basis of information furnished by Laila Serageddin, we know that they were called kanjifah and that already in the early fifteenth century they were used for heavy gambling involving considerable sums of money.

The sixteenth-century Ibn Hajar al-Haytami mentions kanjifah in connection with at-tab wa-d-dukk. The Arabian Nights refers to it in the story of the learned slave girl Tawaddud between chess and nard, but while Tawaddud then goes on to elaborate on the latter two games, nothing more is said about kanjifah. The Persian dictionary lists ganjifah, ganjifah “pack of cards, game of cards,” ganji/ifah-baz “card player, trickster,” ganjifah-bazi “card trick, sleight of hand,” and ganjifah-saz “manufacturer of cards.” Long ago the suggestion was made by K. Himly that the Persian word was of Chinese origin.

A note signed by a certain Muhammad Sa’id which appears in the chess manuscript published by F. M. Pareja Casañas speaks of “the well-known paper game” (li.b al-kaghid) as an example of a game of pure luck. This may refer to playing cards. However, the writer of the note might possibly have lived as late as the eighteenth century, and his testimony is thus of very little use to us. [Translator's note: This transcription leaves out Rosenthal's footnotes. To read the text with footnotes, go to viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1096&p=16865#p16865.]
As we see, quotes related to playing cards in the Islamic world are very scarce for the period of interest, and totally unsatisfactory. As for me, also for the lack of specific appropriate knowledge, I will have to enlist the help of the imagination. If I were an expert in oriental literature, I would look in particular deeper into Persian literature: it seems impossible that the greatest contribution to the references collected by Rosenthal comes simply from a dictionary! If only from leafing through a common dictionary of the Persian language, different terms are encountered related to playing cards and their use, they cannot be something of very low diffusion.

In regard to the derivation of the word from the Chinese, I could also check out the musings of Himly, who previously had appeared to me as a rather serious scholar of the history of chess. Some of his studies, scattered in journals more uncommon to us, were fortunately collected and republished as a bound book that I could read. The part that discusses the connection of ganjifah from Persian to Chinese, in his article of 1889, hypothesized that the corresponding Chinese name was Kan-Tsou-Phai, something like "card of Sun-Kan province". The correspondence appears anything but

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convincing, but for a secure negative judgment it might better to have someone who was familiar with those languages and literatures. Of the same article by Himly, instead of reporting that discussion more extensively, I prefer to reproduce a brief parenthesis that would link our noun minchiate to the Persian meng, meaning lproceeding [procedimento], deception, game or player of dice, gaming house, with the possibility of finding a link between some of the associated words. 6
Wie ich es neben der frühen Verbreitung des Spieles durch die Mauren in Spanien sehr wohl für möglich halte, dass andere durch die Araber vermittelte Quellen nach Italien führen, möchte ich hier das alte Spiel der minchiate in Florenz erwähnen; wie nämlich das persische meng die verschiedenen Bedeutungen “Verfahren, Betrug, Würfelspiel, Würfelspieler, Spielhaus casa” und die Nebenbildung mengiya hat, so stehen dem genannten minchiate die Ausdrücke minchionare “zum Besten haben”, minchione u.s.w. zur Seite 6.

(As I consider it very possible that along with the early diffusion of the game by the Moors in Spain, that others mediated by Arab sources lead to Italy, I would like to mention here the old game of minchiate in Florence; namely, how the Persian meng with the various meanings "proceeding, fraud, craps, dice players, gaming house" and which has the secondary formation mengiya, stands in the so-called minchiate the expressions minchionare "to have the best", minchione etc. on that side 6.
To give a negative assessment of this derivation, the advice of an expert does not seem to me necessary; it is nice to find for the name of the beautiful game of minchiate a less embarrassing connection than usual, but here it seems to me that we go beyond the reasonable.

Turning to "normal" cards, we could also think about the division between Shiites and Sunnis, today noted repeatedly in newspapers and on the news, as if [como se] the usual prohibition of card games were less stringent or absent among the Shiites. But to respond better, one should at least know the date of the dictionary and its references: if it is recent and the terms are of modern use, it does not serve our purpose of reconstructing the history of the second half of the fourteenth century. In short, it is plausible that the Persian dictionary entries have been introduced in later ages than those for which we are looking for evidence in the literature. In precisely the same way, it [this difficulty] is encountered, as explicitly indicated by Rosenthal himself, in the evidence that in his survey follows the Persian and ends the contribution.

Regardless of the origin of the name ganjifah, can it be concluded that cards were widespread in ancient Persia? For now we cannot find any reliable information before "our" year, around 1375. The secure pieces of information have two defects: the first is that,
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6 Karl Himly, Beiträge zur Geschichte des Schachspiels, Marburg 1984, p. 93.


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being dated as early as the fifteenth century, it could be interpreted as limited not only to recent fashion, but also to that imported from Western Europe, in the direction opposite to that, certainly more convincing in principle, which remains to be documented better. The second is that it is evidence for the use of playing cards only in the aspect of chance and not that of possible "intelligent" games, such as to encourage their dissemination at a European level similar to that which occurred previously for chess.


4. References from Europe

After the inconclusive excursion into the lands of origin, we can look in Europe for useful documents on the arrival of playing cards. Then things get better clarity: there are in fact secure indications that the cards arrived there precisely from the Islamic world. We must address citations in "our" world, such as those of the Viterbo Chronicle, writing that naibi arrived in 1379 and had indeed a Saracen origin. For a discussion of this data I can once more refer to Dummett, who also commented on the notices of Moorish or Saracen cards in inventories at the end of the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth century.

The inventory made in 1408 of the property of Louis de Valois and his wife Valentina includes a "pack of Saracen cards" (Ung jeu de quartes Sarrasines); Valentina belonged to the Visconti family of Milan and married Louis in 1389. Similarly, several inventories compiled in Barcelona between 1414 and 1460 include "Moorish playing cards " (Jochs de naips moreschs) 7.

In short, despite the lack of evidence of their departure, we can affirmatively answer the question whether naibi arrived from the Islamic world, being content with a little information on their arrival. Some food for thought can also be inferred from the news of naibi decks in Rome, arriving by sea in 1428 in the same purchase containing hides 8. It may be useful to consider other properties and characteristics.
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7 Ref. 3, p. 27.
8 http://trionfi.com/ev12

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Good; in a manner convincing enough, even if when we search for a little precision, there are still doubts about where (especially if we are not convinced of a Cairo origin) and the like.


5. The name

Naibi, a term mking its appearance in the last quarter of the fourteenth century, cannot be traced back to one of the Romance or Neolatin languages; This finding already provides an important clue to convince us that it arrived on European shores of the Mediterranean from some foreign country. In principle, the term naibe alone, by whch the first playing cards in Europe were called, would be enough to allow us to ascend directly to the areas of origin, or at least the latest foreign transit zones in the long journey that began in China of the first millennium. Unfortunately, the term, unusual in European languages, is not common even in the Middle Eastern languages, or at least it does not appear that it was locally associated with playing cards.

The most accepted explanation for the origin of the term derives it from the upper cards of the deck, with pictures, or even writing, indicating the military leaders or naib, of Levantine armies; after having indicated only some of the most valuable cards, the word would be extended to indicate the entire deck and also the game in which it was used. Of naibi as playing cards we do not, however, find, a precedent in Arabic texts; also the study noted above confirms that the corresponding term was kanjifah. Usually, we know from the history of chess, these names varied in passing from one culture to another; not transmitted unaltered, including a lack in some languages of sounds and letters found in other, but a passage of the type chaturanga, shatranji, ajedrez is not found for playing cards. So we have to look for other indications or reflect on possible hypothetical reconstructions, without having the corresponding documentation.

6. The rules of play [Le regole di gioco]

Playing cards would not have been diffused so widely if they were not accompanied by some information, even if reduced to

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a minimum, on the manner of using them for a game, which in turn evidently had to be pleasant. How could you use these objects? Today playing cards are used for countless games that are not only different from each other, but also belong to groups with different structures. Certainly at the beginning there was not the rich availability of today, but some game rules had to be necessarily associated with cards, as correspondent "software", from their first introduction onwards. In this regard we can think about what would happen in the case of a game in which virtually new software had set up everything needed for a sudden diffusions, at the same time fast and very wide.

Finding an example is not easy, but it can be imagined that instead of playing cards, the so-called “Chinese” morra had arrived in Europe and that, another very hypothetical but very necessary condition, it immediately gained favor with many European players. (Do not tell me that the game is too trivial for similar success; for this simple game there is even an international association! 9 What would be necessary in that case? Only the idea, just the fact that they were allowed three moves of the hand, to rock, scissors or paper (r, s, p), and that the rule is that the victory is determined by the circular sequence [r> s> p>]. That's all. Then it would have sufficed for a merchant, a pilgrim, a released prisoner, a visitor, anyone who had seen the game once, to be able to teach the game returning home, so that then from his knowledge and his practice it is spread like wildfire.

To meet with immediate fortune in almost all European regions, it is necessary to assume that with the cards came a particular game that immediately gained great popularity; everything leads us to assume that it was a trick-taking game, preferably also without trumps, probably to be identified with diritta, often mentioned in the oldest Florentine documents. The alternative hypothesis is not likely, that the cards arrived without corresponding "instructions for use" and that therefore in each location it was practiced in a different way, establishing very different traditions.

The greater historical problem is that for card games we have evidence that would be better compatible with a game like that of “Chinese morra”, which was taken as an example, while, even if the way in which the cards were
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9 http://worldrps.com/

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initially used in the game were reconstructed better, it would still remain to explain the simultaneous rapid spread of the associated "hardware" used.


7. The playing cards [Le carte da gioco]

To find in Europe a virtually explosive diffusion of playing cards around 1370 one would expect to find abundant traces in their native lands; they are not found. Of course, cards have always been perishable items and everywhere preserved only from some fortunate circumstance. But here it is seen that this is not just a lack of objects, it is also references to the game in the literature, to the terms themselves that indicated the cards and the games in which they were used; so even the hardware itself creates problems. How could playing cards have spread so quickly?

A logical hypothesis is that in the Islamic regions where they came from, they were produced in large quantities, so as to represent a new commodity of exchange between countries bordering the Mediterranean with the ability to export whole bales and crates to the various European countries; in short, an artifact that arrived there from distant countries together with the manner of use. This simple hypothesis, however, is hardly compatible with what we know about the countries of origin: the evidence is so scarce that it is explainable only by sporadic and limited productions, also in the same areas of origin. Some indication in this regard, however, we have met, reading of Saracen cards or finding naibi arriving by ship along with hides. Then all that remains is to assume that religious prohibitions related to the use of playing cards, but not to their manufacture for trade, especially if addressed to infidel markets. A little like, in centuries later, there existed gambling houses open for vacationers and guests of the thermal establishments, but not accessible to the inhabitants of the place.

In particular, it remains to understand if we have to look for a main transit channel, as we might imagine from active manufacturers in Egypt in the production of objects for export. In local histories it is found that Florentine merchants were in close relations not only and not so much with Egypt as with all the ports in the Mediterranean, beginning with the Spanish ones, with which the Islamic world had traditionally maintained privileged relations, also as intermediate steps for goods

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coming from Africa, and not just from neighboring Morocco. The alternative is therefore an arrival in Florence of playing cards in large quantities mainly from Egypt or in correspondingly smaller quantities from many ports in Spain, Africa or the Middle East. Probably traffic along an exclusive channel would leave some trace in the books of accounts and memories of the merchants, and therefore it seems more logical to assume a secondary market, organized along with various other goods from multiple locations. The hypothesis is meant for Florence, where I know the relevant documents best, but could also apply to other large European cities that had rich trade with the Islamic regions.

On the other hand, it can also be supposed that precisely in Europe shops for the production of these new playing cards had to be implanted, and in such high numbers as to meet local requirements; as if mainly the software had come from Islamic regions, without a sufficient amount of hardware. In Florence the first notice comes in the summer of 1377, in which the games are commonly played on the streets! 10 With what cards? The local naibaio [card maker] craft could not exist before the arrival of naibi, unless one thinks of the production of pre-existing objects that were not too different. The profession involves various skills. The "normal” paper [carta] of cottonwool was quite rare and parchment a very refined product; let us suppose that they are found in sufficient quantities; several sheets of different kinds had to be glued together, and the surface, evenly covered with gypsum, also covered with a uniform layer of paint or gilding, and finally the symbols or figures on the playing cards had to be painted there.

Once learned, the craft could even give rise to a normal and quite generous production, also compatible with the appearance of various traveling card makers that produced in a city until exhausting local requests, moving immediately to a nearby town. Recurring testimonials - though for different times – show that card makers of this type also arrived from countries north of the Alps, probably favored by their traditional skills in woodworking, useful for preparing the early molds used to multiply the production of playing cards and sacred images. It is also true
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10 http://www.naibi.net/A/423-1377-Z.pdf

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that any of the Florentine workshops of painters could have included playing cards among the numerous minor art products simultaneously in the works, possibly with specialized apprentices or by subcontracting some intermediate work.


8. Conclusion

In the transmission of playing cards two related but essentially different aspects must be considered, that is, the relevant hardware and software, the cards and rules for using them. The card games are of many types and cover practically the entire range between a game of pure chance to those of particular reflection; in short, those of chance led to pure pastime; for neither extreme have we received significant evidence from the Islamic world, from which indeed playing cards arrived in Europe in the second half of the fourteenth century - while we have many notices of that origin for chess that also had arrived in Europe previously from the Islamic culture. No ancient Arab witness speaks of playing cards as a tool for intelligent games, suitable for personages of superior culture, and the testimonies that talk about it for gambling are very scarce and late (only the beginning of the fifteenth century).

In particular, a book by Franz Rosenthal, noted scholar of Islamic culture, has been taken into consideration here, and the discussion emphasizes the product aspect of the new gaming instrument. The absence of proper documentation cannot prevent the search for plausible reconstructions; in particular some possible paths for the introduction into Europe of playing cards and card games and their initial diffusion have been proposed and discussed, without being able to identify a single path that is more convincing than others. In particular, for the manufacture of playing cards used in Europe, there remains open the problem of distinguishing between local and imported products, in both cases trying to identify locations principally involved with production, trade and utilization.

Franco Pratesi – 08.02.2016

Re: 2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

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I want to look at one issue in Pratesi's note. If the cards came from the Mamluks, in Egypt or elsewhere in the Arab world, where did the Mamluks get them? I think more can be said. There is quite a lot of oversimplification by playing card researchers about who the Mamluks were and where they came from.

1. Mamluks

First, we need to understand that the Mamluks were not a people; they were a caste in Arab society, former slaves who did get their freedom, at least some of them, although with permanent obligations to the military of the rulers who had bought them. As slaves, they had been trained from puberty by their Arab masters in the military arts.

Wikipedia says (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamluk):
The most enduring Mamluk realm was the military caste in medieval Egypt that rose from the ranks of slave soldiers who were mainly Turkic,[1] Circassian,[2] Abkhazian,[3][4][5] Georgian,[6][7][8] and Coptic Egyptian.[9] Many Mamluks could also be of Balkan origin (Albanian, Greek, and South Slavic).[10][11]
This is a rather mixed bag. The Circassians, Abkhazians, and Georgians all had as their homelands regions on the eastern side of the Black Sea, extending into the mountains but not on the side facing the Caspian Sea.

That Captic Christians also became Mamluks suggests that the peoples from whom Mamluks were drawn were predominantly non-Muslim. This is stated by Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_views_on_slavery):
For a variety of reasons, internal growth of the slave population was not enough to fulfill the demand in Muslim society. This resulted in massive importation, which involved enormous suffering and loss of life from the capture and transportation of slaves from non-Muslim lands.
The children of freeborn Muslims were not permitted to be enslaved. I do not know whether the children of liberated slaves, as some Mamluks became, were slaves. I assume they were. For our purposes, what is important is whether they maintained cultural ties with the people sfrom whom they came.

Further in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamluk we read:
In Egypt, Georgian Mamluks retained their native language, were aware of the politics of the Caucasus region, received frequent visits from their parents or other relatives, and sent gifts to family members or gave money to build useful structures (a defensive tower, or even a church) in their native villages in Georgia.[21]
So at least the Georgian Mamluks were allowed to keep much of their culture. Georgia was Christian, as the mention of churches suggests, the legacy of being associated with the Eastern Roman Empire in earlier times (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... 600_AD.PNG, from Wikipedia article "Byzantine Empire"). However the Mamluks themselves would have been required to convert to Islam. Forced conversion is not reliable, of course.

Wikipedia's article on the Mamluk Sultanate says that there were two periods of Mamluk rule, one dominated by Turkish Mamluks and the other by Circassian Mamluks:
Historians have traditionally broken the era of Mamlūk rule into two periods—one covering 1250–1382, the other, 1382–1517. Western historians call the former the "Baḥrī" period and the latter the "Burjī," because of the political dominance of the regiments known by these names during the respective times. The contemporary Muslim historians referred to the same divisions as the "Turkish"[7][8][9][10][11] and "Circassian" periods, in order to call attention to the change in ethnic origin of the majority of Mamlūks.[7][8][9][10][11]
The Turkic people from whom Mamluks were recruited would not have been Muslim, since Muslims were not allowed to enslave other Muslims, but either Christian or pagan, and thus more from outside the Anatolian peninsula, where Muslim conversion (from Christianity and paganism) was extensive; Azerbaijan is one example (east of Georgia bordering the Caspian Sea) of a source apparently considered Turkic.

The Circassians in their homeland were predominantly Christian, as were the Georgians and, also enslaved, the Armenians, who lived just south of Georgia.

So which Mamluks would have had playing cards, the "Turkish" or the "Circassian"? It seems to me that it would have been the Circassians, because even before they gained power, they were the backbone of the Egyptian military, Wikipedia says. When they did gain the sultanate, moreover, they brought their adult relatives from Circassia, who did not have to go through the military training, and put them in important positions (http://mamluk.uchicago.edu/MSR_XVI_2012 ... p55-69.pdf).

Circassia does not exist on any modern map. The only map I could find of Circassia was as of 1750, before the Russian Empire killed or expelled (as shown by the arrows) most of them. (this is a couple million or so):

It is right above Georgia and seems to have been very much under their cultural influence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circassians).

2. Non-Mamluks.

If the Mamluks brought playing cards from their native lands, then it would seem that similar cards probably were used in those lands by the native populations. And if so, given the danger of raids from Muslims in search of slaves, some of the more enterprising would logically have journeyed to places not threatened by such raids.

If you look at the trade routes around the Black Sea, you can see that they go right through Georgia, Circassia, and Azerbaijan (which is to the east of Georgia, on the Caspian Sea.



The relevant trade routes on the two maps do not coincide. Actually, on the first map, the idea that there was a major trade route through the Caucasus Mountains and directly across the Black Sea, without stopping at other ports, is a priori dubious. (Also, Baku is not in the middle of the Caspian Sea, and Kaffa is on the Crimean Peninsula.) But trade routes at least went close to the lands in question.

However it seems to me that it would not have been from traders that cards would have come to Central Europe--because before there is trade, there has to be demand. Perhaps some Circassians migrated to Central Europe, escaping Muslim raids by joining fellow Christians (converting to the Latin Church in the process). This would have been at some point in the period after the sack of Constantinople in 1204, which had severely limited the ability of the the Byzantine Empire to control traffic in the Black Sea and from which the Empire never recovered (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire).

Alternatively, people east of the Black Sea might have been brought to Central Europe, as in Italy, as slaves. In Italy, after the Black Death at least, there was a labor shortage, and traders met the demand in a time-honored way. Here is Sally McKee in "Domestic Slavery in Renaissance Italy", on p. 309 of Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies, Vol. 29, No. 3, September 2008, pp. 305–326 (http://www.academia.edu/217551/Domestic ... ance_Italy):
The overwhelming majority of the women and men sold to and by Italians came from Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Merchants traded in Russians, Circassians, Tatars, Abkhazi, Mingrelli, Geti, Vlachs, and others from the Balkan, Caucasus, and Central Asian regions, some of whom were Christians, captured by enterprising local traders or sold into slavery by debt-burdened parents. In late fourteenth century Florence, most of the slaves were Tartars. (13) Genoese traders sold Greek-speaking adherents of the Eastern Church until the late fourteenth century, when the Genoese government no longer allowed it. ... The Genoese relied heavily on Russian, Circassian, and Tartar slaves into the 1460s.
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13. Boni, Monica, and Robert Delort. “Des esclaves toscans, du milieu du XIVe au milieu du XVe siecle.” Melanges de l’Ecole francaise de Rome 112, no. 2 (2000): 1057–77, p. 1070.
A pack of cards is not much baggage and might have been tolerated as a means of keeping the captives quiet. If nothing else, one of them might use his knowledge of how to use this novelty to improve his lot once settled in the new place.

Genoa was the main player in the Black Sea area, establishing posts at various places, the largest being in the Crimean Peninsula. which is where the fleas carrying the Black Death probably first boarded ship in 1343 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death).

Tartars are perhaps the most likely of all these groups to have had playing cards--although not necessarily similar to the Mamluk deck--because they originated very close to China, in the Gobi desert and were pushed westward by Genghis Khan, the Chinese Emperor, as well as being incorporated into his army (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tatars). They reached the Caspian Sea by around 1240, and the Black Sea a little later. The Tartars lived very close to, and even with, the other groups that the Mongols took over.

McKee says that the slave trade to Italy began after the fall of the Eastern Empire in 1204 (p. 308); but it surely accelerated after the Black Death, which reached Italy in 1343; this would seem to be confirmed by the title of the French article that McKee cites, "Des esclaves toscans, du milieu du XIVe au milieu du XVe siecl", Tuscn slaves from the middle of the 14th to the middle of the 15th century. The plague also hit the Caspian/Black Sea area, starting around 1340, with much chaos not only from it but also from warring political entities in this border region, between the Golden Horde (which fell into warring factions in 1359, per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Horde), the Ikhanate khanate (which did likewise in 1353, with the plague arriving c. 1330, per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilkhanate), and the Mamluks of Egypt, who picked up some of the pieces. Slavery would have been a source of revenue for all and a good reason for refugees of Christian persuasion to flee westward.

Then, both in Central Europe and in Italy, it is just a matter of people in their new land learning the game from the new arrivals. Card-makers would follow, whether free or slave, from whom the natives of their new lands would learn their techniques. There was actually not much to learn, for cheap decks, which Franco's finding of Florentine card-players in poor neighborhoods suggests there were. Craftsmen in the West already knew how to etch designs in wood or metal. It is mainly a matter of understanding how to make woodcuts, the stiff paper to print on, and quick ways to apply paint. In short, a major channel of playing card knowledge to Europe might not have been by way of the Mamluks at all.

3. Playing cards

Cards similar to those that went to Cairo also logically, even almost inevitably, would have gone to Prague, Krakow, and elsewhere, following people who knew how to play the games. Then local production would have begun, first in Eastern Europe, where the plague hit later and much less severely (from Krakow eastward almost to Kiev, per Wikipedia), and then, with the Plague subsiding, card-making would have spread west and south, eventually reaching Italy. This seems logical, whether or not Hubsch's reports of pre-1377 card production in Central and Eastern Europe can be verified. (I do not know why Krakow etc. was spared the plague. My guess is that transportation was mostly by caravan, rather than boat, and that flea-carrying rats did not like riding on horses and carts. There were rivers flowing from the Baltic, but by the time the plague reached them, officials would have known to establish quarantines.) But there are several possibilities for how cards got to Italy, including from slaves from areas that already had cards.

So we have a perfectly good explanation for the cards that John of Rheinfelden and reports in 1377: from Germany and/or what is now eastern France, which Basel, on the Rhine, is between (see Viking River Cruise advertisement, shown below).

And by 1370, Germany could also have supplied the Italian market. Once the demand was there, those with knowledge of card-making would follow.

The earliest extant European playing cards seem to be from Catalonia (http://www.wopc.co.uk/assets/files/moorish.pdf), beginning of the 15th century (http://www.wopc.co.uk/assets/files/moorish.pdf). Given their similarity to Mamluk cards, might cards of that type have gotten there from Cairo rather than Germany? That is more difficult to say than one might think. Franco has indicated the problems. Muslims in Egypt, Spain, and points in between were Sunni, maybe unlike the Shiites of Persia, so perhaps more strictly against gambling, and less likely to be influenced from places dominated by the Shia, like Persia. Also, there is no reason to suppose card-making among Muslims in Spain, because Mamluks were not there, as far as I have been able to determine. It is true that Muslims lived in Catalonia even when it was controlled by Christians. But would the Caliphate have allowed playing cards to be exported to a market that could be expected to include Muslims? That would be a violation of their religion. The Mamluks were lucky that their co-religionists tolerated their possession of cards at all.

But Barcelona as much as Genoa and Venice would have been a destination of the slave trade, from the same places in the region of the Black Sea. McKee says (p. 308, my emphasis):
After the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1204 and the establishment of the Latin principalities in what is today mainland Greece and in the Aegean Islands, Venice, Genoa and independent Catalan adventurers vied with the Turkish emirates of Asia Minor for dominance over the region. Traders stripped the dismembered Byzantine Empire of much of its human flesh.
And as I have said, this trade would have accelerated after the Black Death, by which time playing cards would have reached the Black Sea area.

4. "Moorish" cards

Regarding the cards called "Saracen" or "Moorish" in the early 15th century, their being called that does not imply that they were at any point made by Muslims, any more than the term "animal tarock" in the 18th century implies that those cards were made by animals. The one mentioning Saracens should be translated as ""In the year 1379 there was
brought to Viterbo the game of cards, which in the Saracen language is called nayb", according to Wintle (http://www.wopc.co.uk/assets/files/moorish.pdf). The terms might only have described what was depicted on the picture cards: Moorish soldiers. "Andy's Playing Cards" has a page on "Moorish cards" of the early 15th century (http://l-pollett.tripod.com/cards77.htm). They were made by Christians as the cards betray the influence of medieval Christian manuscript decorations. Exactly where they were made is hard to say: Spain, Northern Italy, and Germany are all possible, as map provided there indicates. What makes them "Moorish" might be simply the design, specifically the swords and armor, including the tortoise-shell shields.

Such cards might then be popular in Catalonia, which had a particular interest in Moorish designs, but supplied from elsewhere. even Germany, even if soon in competition with local manufacturers. That is why it is so difficult to say where the surviving "Moorish" cards were made. And also, where the designs came from.

On the other hand, the paucity of reports of playing cards in Muslim literature does not mean that these cards don't reflect what existed in Muslim lands. Playing cards may not have been reported because the authorities, i.e. the Caliphates, did not want them to be an accepted matter of conversation and curiosity. It is the same reason (I assume) that sortilege in the 16th and 17th centuries probably was talked about very rarely in Christian literature: it was disapproved of by the powers that be, i.e. the Church. Silence often works better than prohibition by name. Hence also the practice of mentioning only allowed games, rather than prohibited ones, in Florentine regulations.

5. Ludus nayborum.

There remains the term "naib". This does indicate that the game was at least explained to Europeans by people who knew the game in Arabic terms. The question arises, was this first the name of the cards or the name of the game? Italian and other Romance languages tended to use the same word (e.g. gioco) for both the pack and the game. Thus in Viterbo: "In the year 1379 there was brought to Viterbo the game of cards, which in the Saracen language is called
nayb". But is that the pack or the game?

The records that Franco found from Florence of 1377 show convictions for ludus cardi and ludus nayborum. Franco translates the Latin "cardi" as "zara" and "nayborum" as "dei naibi" ("1377: Firenze – Condanne ai giocatori di naibi", p. 170). Now "Zara" is not the instrument, the dadi, or dice, but the name of a game (I assume!). I would think the same might be true for "naibi".

So what would the "game of naibi", i.e. game of military leaders, look like? It might have been one in which the winner is the one who wins the most points, or gets to a certain number of points first, in which only "naibi", i.e. military leaders, counted--in other words, the court cards (still lacking queens). Such cards could be lost either to higher cards of the same suit or if they were played in a trick in lieu of following suit. In the later game of Triumphs, what counted, with different points for different cards, were court cards and a few of the triumphs. There is an analogy with chess: instead of capturing the king, the object is to capture all the leaders. Even the lowest suit card could do so, if an opponent was forced to play one of a different suit. Also, "chess" is the name of the game, not of its instruments.

Whatever the game was specifically, I would expect that when the game was first explained, perhaps in a mixture of Arabic and some Latin or Romance words, along with a lot of gestures, the ones explaining would have used the word "naib". So either their native language was Arabic or they were used to using the Arabic terms. It seems to me that anyone from the Eastern Mediterranean or the shores of the Black or Caspian Sea would know the term "naibi" well enough, as describing both the people who enslaved their own people and what those captured sometimes became, a term that perhaps applied to friend and foe alike.

"Naibi" is first mentioned in Florence 1377, then Viterbo 1379. It also reached Spain, where cards are still "naips". But John of Rheinfelden does not know the word, at least, as far as I can find, in the parts so far transcribed; he speaks of cartulas. What playing cards might have first been called in northern Europe, and when, is something on which I cannot speculate.

Re: 2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

#3
Krakow and Prague are considered to have been protected by the rivers Rhine and Danube (and also the Alps) in the first wave of the plague (1348-50). Also Nuremberg and Würzburg and cities in Silesia were considered by more modern research as plague-free in this period, considering the condition, that later chroniclers added confirming plague information for their city, just following the reports of chroniclers of other cities.
https://books.google.de/books?id=ExM0qJ ... 50&f=false
This regions got some plague time later (late 1350s, early 1360s). The most intensive plague in Prague had been in 1380, after the death of Charles IV. Charles IV in his travels carefully avoided plague regions. It might be suspected, that he also reduced traffic and trade from infected regions.

From Milan, also plague-free in 1350, it's known, that they took then very harsh measurements against victims of the plague ... successfully.

*********

I remember, that a word naibi or naipes (?) or similar appeared in a Spanish wordbook c. 1370. Franco recently gave in ..
http://www.naibi.net/A/510-PRE1377ITA-Z.pdf
..
ludum cartarum - 1370 Portovenere
ludere ad taxillos sue cartis vel alio ludo - 1371 Buia
ludere ad ludum cartarum - 1371 Colle del Marchese
ioco de carti - Norcia 1257-1526 (precedente il 1377)
ludum in toto posse Casurcii – videlicet ad taxillos, ad cartas - 1375 Casorzo
...
but he added, that he finds, that these are not secure dates.

*************

The Mamluks were since 1250 "ruling class" in Egypt, and the meaning "slave" should have been lost then. It seems not plausible, that Chinese playing cards had already reached them in this time. The first big fight between Mongols and Mamluks occurred 1260.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Ain_Jalut
The Europeans hoped later on a cooperation with the Mongols to fight the Mamluks, but at this opportunity they were interested in neutrality. Generally the remaining crusaders were possible persons, which might have imported occasionally some playing cards. Between them were German knights, which later went to the region of the Deutscher Ritterorden. From there we've two early notes about playing cards, which unluckily are not reliable.

Genoa started to dominate the trade in the Black Sea since 1261 (when Venice lost control of Constantinople) and had contacts to the Golden Horde. Genoese traders are another possibility.

The general trading ways between Prague and its Eastern neighbors to the Goldene Horde might be another, possibly the most important for the Bohemian playing card development.

Likely one should suspect a lot of small imports of playing cards, from which 2 became successful actions with much follow-ups, one in Spain with Latin suits and another one in Bohemia (or somewhere in the Eastern region). Prague became a booming city during 14th century, it doubled its size and increased its population. A lot of building activities, a lot of trade improvements, a lot of artists necessary for playing card production. Prague is this period the most logical place for a new game technology.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: 2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

#4
Huck wrote,
I remember, that a word naibi or naipes (?) or similar appeared in a Spanish wordbook c. 1370. Franco recently gave in ..
http://www.naibi.net/A/510-PRE1377ITA-Z.pdf
..
ludum cartarum - 1370 Portovenere
ludere ad taxillos sue cartis vel alio ludo - 1371 Buia
ludere ad ludum cartarum - 1371 Colle del Marchese
ioco de carti - Norcia 1257-1526 (precedente il 1377)
ludum in toto posse Casurcii – videlicet ad taxillos, ad cartas - 1375 Casorzo
...
but he added, that he finds, that these are not secure dates.
I could find no indication of something similar to "naibi" or "naipes" in anything Spanish c. 1370 (or any other time) in that note by Franco. On what page?

The citations you give are (a) all in Italy; and (b) are considered by Franco such poor evidence as at this point to be of minimal value.

It would be of interest whether any of them use "naibe", "naipes", "nayb", etc., but he doesn't say, that I can find, except that in the case of Porto Venere, where he says that the text not use the term from Arabic:
Le carte da gioco non compaiono con il termine di naibi con cui si incontrano di solito, ma questo si potrebbe anche ammettere; siamo sufficientemente lontani da Firenze per accettare l’uso dell’altro termine.

(Playing cards do not appear with the term naibi which are normally there, but you could also have to admit that we are far enough away from Florence to accept the use of the other term.)
In fact all the passages he quotes use "carta", "cartula", or some such thing, and never "naib-" etc. I myself wonder if which term is actually used might be a factor in how old the text is; but I have not seen the most relevant original texts of the late 15th-early 16th century and later.

I doubt if distance from Florence is a factor, at least in 1370, because Viterbo is also far from Florence, and Spain is even further. It seems to me a definite suggestion that the document is rather distant in time from the appearance of playing cards, when Arabic terms were more common in that part of Italy. Porto Venere is close to Genoa, then in rather close contact with the Arab world, probably selling Arabic-speaking slaves among others.

My point about the Arabic term is that it is precisely that which is lacking in John of Rheinfelden, as far as we know, unlike the documents in Italy of that time (assuming we can ignore the ones mentioned as later additions). Therefore there is no indication from his text that the cards he has seen come from an Arabic source, i.e. they might be from elsewhere, as in somewhere north of him. In Spain, obviously they did have the term from Arabic, because the word "naipes" still means "playing cards". It would be useful to know a Spanish, or Catalan, dictionary showing how far back the term goes, so if you can find it, great. It might be good to look in a Provencale dictionary, too.

I will expand somewhat on my point (b). Franco's concluding words in the note are
...nessuno dei casi esaminati qui per l’Italia si presenta minimamente utile allo scopo.

(All of the cases examined here for Italy present themselves as minimally useful to the purpose.
Here are the details. For Buia I will give the whole passage, and for the rest, Franco's conclusions and the text he quotes, in Latin or in medieval Italian. I have left out his descriptions of the places involved, introduction, and conclusion.

Porto Venere (a stunning place, by the way)
Naturalmente la cosa più difficile da accettare è la data, ma ci sono anche elementi in più che rendono indigesta l’intera testimonianza. Le carte da gioco non compaiono con il termine di naibi con cui si incontrano di solito, ma questo si potrebbe anche ammettere; siamo sufficientemente lontani da Firenze per accettare l’uso dell’altro termine. Il punto più delicato è che, mentre per la prima volta si proibisce il gioco delle carte, verrebbe già documentato allo stesso tempo uno dei giochi che con le carte si facevano, il rectus ludus, quello che troviamo più
spesso con il suo nome volgare di la diritta, similmente permesso, di solito, anche nella repubblica fiorentina, ma ovviamente per tempi successivi.

Insomma se questo testo scritto potesse davvero risalire al 1370 si avrebbe insieme la prima testimonianza per le carte in Europa e la notizia che esistevano già più giochi di carte fra cui uno divenuto tradizionale, la diritta, che poteva quindi essere assimilato agli altri pochi giochi, non di carte, giudicati meritevoli di essere esclusi dalle proibizioni. A questo punto mi pare necessario un atto di fede, o di credulità, e personalmente non lo accetto, pronto a “ricredermi” solo di fronte a una conferma derivante da altri documenti, sicuri però.

(Of course, the hardest thing to accept is the date, but there are also elements that make most indigestible the full story. Playing cards do not appear with the term naibi which are normally there, but we could concede that we are far enough away from Florence to accept the use of the other term. The most delicate point is that while for the first time it will allow card playing, it would already document at the same time one of the games done with the cards, the ludus rectus, which we find more often with its common name of dirita, similarly allowed, usually, also in the Florentine Republic, but of course in later times.

So if this text could actually have been written in 1370 it would be concurrently the first witness for cards in Europe and also for the information that there were already more card games, including one that became traditional, diritta, which could then be assimilated with a few other games not of cards deemed worthy of being excluded from the prohibitions. At this point there seems to me necessary an act of faith, or credulity, and personally I do not accept it, ready to "reconsider" only if faced with confirmation arising from other documents, however, secure ones.
Buia:
Buja è un piccolo comune, nella provincia di Udine, in cui gli abitanti parlano prevalentemente la lingua friulana. Devastata dal violento terremoto del 1976, si è meritata la medaglia d’oro al merito civile per l’impegno nella ricostruzione. Forse l’evento più importante nella sua lunga storia fu l’apparizione della Vergine Maria sopra un bell’albero di mele, con affreschi e pitture conservati localmente a ricordo del fatto. Gli statuti del Castello di Buja furono pubblicati da Vincenzo Joppi “Per le auspicatissime nozze dell'avvocato dottor Vincenzo Casasola con la elettissima signora Anna Lucia Broili” 4. Come tipico di edizioni occasionali del genere, si tratta di un libro di poche pagine; leggo 54, di cui gli statuti occuperebbero solo le pp. 14-43. Ne ho cercato inutilmente una copia nelle biblioteche toscane e non ho ritenuto necessario provare a procurarmene un esemplare dalle biblioteche, specialmente venete, in cui risulta presente. Il testo di interesse, come riportato in Statuta de ludo, sarebbe come segue.
Nullus de Buia et villarum subiectarum audeat... ludere ad taxillos sue cartis vel alio ludo pro pecuniis post sonum ave Marie de secundo, nec tenere in domo ludentes..., nec etiam ludentibus vel tenere seu accomodare aut vendere candellas aut aliud lumen pro ludo, sub pena marcharum denarioirum duarum applicandarum pro dimidio ecclesie Sancti Laurentii et aliud dimidium accusatori.
Come si vede, più che proibire il gioco, qui se ne proibisce la pratica notturna; il che lascia presumere che durante il giorno fosse lecito giocare anche alle carte. Più che controllare sul manoscritto l’esattezza della trascrizione, ci sarebbe da capire quanto corretta possa essere la data, e se si trovasse invece o che corrisponde chiaramente a un inserimento posteriore oppure che tutto lo statuto è presente solo in copie successive alla data originale.

Non avendo controllato niente di persona, ho poco da aggiungere, se non un’ovvia constatazione di tipo geografico, inclusi gli aspetti connessi di tipo culturale e commerciale. Prima di Firenze 1377, per il transito delle carte da gioco in arrivo in Italia riesco eventualmente a immaginare Genova, Pisa, Napoli, Venezia e poche altre grandi città, meglio se provviste di porti molto frequentati. Il Castello di Buia non mi pare che presentasse le caratteristiche adatte, a meno di supporre che rappresentasse una tappa di transito, un punto di sosta a sud delle Alpi, subito dopo il loro attraversamento, seguendo quindi un percorso terrestre dall’Austria - supposizione e provenienza queste che richiederebbero pure qualcosa di simile a un atto di fede.

(Buja is a small town, in the province of Udine, in which the inhabitants mainly speak the Friulian language. Devastated by the violent earthquake of 1976, it has earned the Gold Medal for Civil Merit for its reconstruction efforts. Perhaps the most important event in its long history was the appearance of the Virgin Mary on a beautiful tree of apples, with frescoes and paintings stored locally in memory of the fact. The statutes of Buja Castle were published by Vincenzo Joppi "For the most auspicious wedding of lawyer Dr. Vincenzo Casasola with the most choicewrthy lady Anna Lucia Broili" 4. Like typical occasional editions of the genre, it is a book of a few pages; I read 54, of which the statutes occupy only pp. 14-43. I have searched in vain for a copy in Tuscan libraries and I have not found it necessary to try to get another exemplar in libraries, especially in the Veneto, where it is present. The text of interest, as reported in the Statuta de ludo, is as follows.
Nullus de Buia et villarum subiectarum audeat... ludere ad taxillos sue cartis vel alio ludo pro pecuniis post sonum ave Marie de secundo, nec tenere in domo ludentes..., nec etiam ludentibus vel tenere seu accomodare aut vendere candellas aut aliud lumen pro ludo, sub pena marcharum denarioirum duarum applicandarum pro dimidio ecclesie Sancti Laurentii et aliud dimidium accusatori.
As we see, rather than prohibiting play, it prohibits here its night practice; which suggests that during the day it was permissible to play cards. Beyond checking the accuracy of the transcript to the manuscript, we would have to figure out what might be the correct date, and if instead it clearly corresponded to a later insert, or that the whole statute is only present in copies subsequent to the original date.

Not having checked anything personally, I have little to add except an obvious geographical observation, including accompanying cultural and commercial aspects. Before Florence in 1377, for the transit of playing cards arriving in Italy we can possibly imagine Genoa, Pisa, Naples, Venice and a few other big cities, preferably equipped with high-traffic ports. Castello Buia I do not think satisfies the requirements needed, unless we assume that it represented a transit stop, a staging point south of the Alps, soon after their crossing, following a land route from Austria - a supposition and provenance which also would require something like an act of faith.)
Colle de Marchese:
...Alle pp. 42-43 si legge la trascrizione della rubrica sui giochi.
[XXXIII] De pena ludentium ad ludum taxillorum.
Item statuimus et ordinamus quod nulla persona de dicto castro vel eius districtu audeat vel presumat ludere ad ludum cartarum (b), taxillorum, lumacarum et vergectarum in dicto castro et eius districtu ad penam .XX. soldorum denariorum pro quolibet et qualibet vice et valdarii teneantur et debeant et denumptiare delinquentes in predicto vel aliquo predictorum vicario et notario dicti communis, stetur et credatur accusationi et denumptiationi ipsorum et cuiuslibet ipsorum sine aliqua probatione et habeant quartam partem banni et vicarius non teneatur dare sententias sine diminutione solvi facere; et nulla persona audeat vel presumat ludentes predictos in domo sua receptare ad dictam penam.
La nota (b) a fondo pagina ci fa sapere, come se vedessimo il manocritto di persona, che il termine cartarum, quello praticamente di nostro esclusivo interesse, si presenta “soprascritto e di altra mano”. E con ciò possiamo anche chiudere la questione, senza entrare in quelle disquisizioni più generali di natura locale, dai punti di vista storico e geografico, che già ci lasciavano perplessi.

(On pp. 42-43 we read the transcription of the rubric on games:
[XXXIII] De pena ludentium ad ludum taxillorum.
Item statuimus et ordinamus quod nulla persona de dicto castro vel eius districtu audeat vel presumat ludere ad ludum cartarum (b), taxillorum, lumacarum et vergectarum in dicto castro et eius districtu ad penam .XX. soldorum denariorum pro quolibet et qualibet vice et valdarii teneantur et debeant et denumptiare delinquentes in predicto vel aliquo predictorum vicario et notario dicti communis, stetur et credatur accusationi et denumptiationi ipsorum et cuiuslibet ipsorum sine aliqua probatione et habeant quartam partem banni et vicarius non teneatur dare sententias sine diminutione solvi facere; et nulla persona audeat vel presumat ludentes predictos in domo sua receptare ad dictam penam.
Note (b) at the bottom of the page tells us, if we see the manuscript in person, that the term cartarum, practically our sole interest, is "superscribed and of another hand." And with that we can close the matter, without getting into the more general disquisitions of a local nature, from the historical and geographical points of view, which already have left us perplexed.
Norcia
. . La parte di nostro interesse è la seguente.
Dechiarando le predicte cose, che nella piaza del communo de Norsia – como è signata per la cruce – et nelle piaze et vie publice delle castella et ville della dicta terra de Norsia, ad niuno sia licito iocare alli dicti iochi, alla pena predicta de libre vinticinqui de denari como è dicto.

Ancora dechiarando che niuno ioche o possa iocare ad ioco de carti o ad nivinaglia, ad deta de mani o ad barva, o ad croce et ad barva, ad pena de quaranta soldi (per ciascuna fiata) che contrafarà senza diminutione alchuna. Et lu accusatore habia la quarta parte della dicta pena et lo resto sia del communo de la dicta terra de Norsia.

Adiongendo che de dicti iochi prohibiti non se possa tenere rascione per alchuno officiale socto la dicta pena, et non vaglia petitione né processe che se faccia.

Qui leggiamo ioco de carti, che è proprio quanto cerchiamo, ma ci sono più motivi che ci impediscono di prendere sul serio la notizia come documentazione precedente il 1377. Queste leggi furono compilate in latino e la versione volgarizzata che giunse alle stampe nel 1526 fu redatta in una data non determinabile con esattezza ma già nella seconda metà del Quattrocento. Le date note in cui furono compilate varie redazioni successive degli statuti di Norcia e riforme significative sembrano essere 1257, 1280, 1372, 1386, 1520. Solo lo statuto richiesto nel 1366 dal cardinale Egidio Albornoz e approvato da un alto prelato nel 1372 potrebbe interessarci, ma non abbiamo indizi per associare a quella circostanza il testo di nostro interesse.

Esiste tuttavia un criterio interno che riduce ancora le già minime probabilità di trovare qui un contributo utile. Una costatazione importante è che il capitolo sui giochi Dello ioco delli dadi et altri iochi prohibiti. Rubrica.CXVII. è molto più esteso della parte copiata sopra. Nel primo tomo dell’edizione recente occupa praticamente due pagine intere e i tre brevi paragrafi copiati sono gli ultimi del capitolo e ne seguono altri due, molto più lunghi, in cui è presente tutta la parte legislativa essenziale sui giochi, senza che vi si faccia menzione delle carte. Si può facilmente immaginare che già nei testi latini precedenti, se non al momento della volgarizzazione, questi paragrafi siano stati aggiunti alla fine del capitolo preesistente. La possibilità di risalire fedelmente da quanto stampato in volgare nel 1526 al “corrispondente” testo latino del 1372, o di altre date, è praticamente nulla. Anche in questo caso, alla fine, possiamo tranquillamente trascurare la notizia.

( The part of our interest is the following:
Dechiarando le predicte cose, che nella piaza del communo de Norsia – como è signata per la cruce – et nelle piaze et vie publice delle castella et ville della dicta terra de Norsia, ad niuno sia licito iocare alli dicti iochi, alla pena predicta de libre vinticinqui de denari como è dicto.

Ancora dechiarando che niuno ioche o possa iocare ad ioco de carti o ad nivinaglia, ad deta de mani o ad barva, o ad croce et ad barva, ad pena de quaranta soldi (per ciascuna fiata) che contrafarà senza diminutione alchuna. Et lu accusatore habia la quarta parte della dicta pena et lo resto sia del communo de la dicta terra de Norsia.

Adiongendo che de dicti iochi prohibiti non se possa tenere rascione per alchuno officiale socto la dicta pena, et non vaglia petitione né processe che se faccia.
Here we read ioco de carti, which is precisely what we seek, but there are more reasons that prevent us from taking seriously the news as documentation before 1377. These laws were compiled in Latin, and the vernacular version that came to the press in 1526 was drafted on a date that cannot be determined exactly, but of the second half of the fifteenth century. The known dates in which several successive drafts of the Norcia statutes were compiled and and of significant reforms appear to be 1257, 1280, 1372, 1386, 1520. Only the statute required in 1366 by Cardinal Albornoz and approved by a prelate in 1372 could be of interest, but we have no evidence to associate with that circumstance the text of our interest.

However, there is an internal criteron that also reduces the already minimal chances to find here a useful contribution. An important finding is that the chapter on the games Dello ioco delli dadi et altri iochi prohibiti. Rubrica.CXVII is much more extensive than the part copied above. In the first volume of the recent edition it occupies almost two full pages and the three short paragraphs are copied to the last chapter and follow the two others, much longer, in which is presented all the essential legislative parts on games, without making mention of cards. One can easily imagine that in the previous Latin texts, if not at the time of the vernacular version, these paragraphs have been added to the end of the existing chapter. The possibility of determining how faithfully that printed in the vernacular in 1526 to the "corresponding" Latin text of 1372, or other dates, is virtually zero. Also in this case, in the end, we can safely ignore the notice.)
Casorzo:
La rubrica di interesse, De luxoribus, è alla p. 114 dell’edizione a stampa e la ricopio in parte qui sotto.
Item statutum et ordinatum est quod aliqua persona de Casurcio vel ibi habitans vel undecumque sit, non debeat ludere ad aliquem ludum in toto posse Casurcii – videlicet ad taxillos, ad cartas, ad borianas, ad incidendum carnes ad bechariam, ad incidendum caseum – ad appothecas Casurcii vel in posse dicti loci, nec ad aliquam scomissam, ubi denarii vel unniate currant, sub pena sol. X astensium de die; et sol. LX astiensium de nocte.
Il problema principale che ci si presenta è quale data associare a questa rubrica sui giochi. Per farlo in maniera affidabile bisognerebbe esaminare bene il codice e verificare la grafia ed eventuali altri indizi utili. Tuttavia, ritengo personalmente sufficiente l’esame della trascrizione stampata per escludere qualsiasi coinvolgimento del testo di nostro interesse con gli anni precedenti il 1377. Per convincermi di questo mi baso su due osservazioni che si possono ricavare dal libro stampato. La prima è il fatto che la rubrica sui giochi è alla p. 114 del libro, corrispondente a uno stadio assai avanzato dello statuto trascritto. Insomma, il capitolo in questione ha tutta l’aria di un’aggiunta posteriore alla parte primitiva dello statuto. La seconda osservazione, collegata alla prima, riguarda gli argomenti delle rubriche immediatamente precedente e seguente rispetto a quella di nostro interesse. Ebbene, la nostra rubrica, De luxoribus, è preceduta da quella De bannis ovium et aliarum bestiarum[/i[ e seguita da quella De non interficiendo bestias ad bechariam absque visione earum. Insomma, controllo sulle greggi e sui macelli (con personale addetto al controllo visivo della bestia prima e dopo la macellazione). Erano tipicamente questi, insieme alle variazioni di composizione ed elezione delle cariche comunali, gli argomenti sui quali le disposizioni legislative venivano ovunque modificate leggermente in maniera ricorrente.

(The section of interest, De luxoribus,is on p. 114 of the edition and printed of the addition dell’edizione a stampa e la ricopio in parte qui sotto.
Item statutum et ordinatum est quod aliqua persona de Casurcio vel ibi habitans vel undecumque sit, non debeat ludere ad aliquem ludum in toto posse Casurcii – videlicet ad taxillos, ad cartas, ad borianas, ad incidendum carnes ad bechariam, ad incidendum caseum – ad appothecas Casurcii vel in posse dicti loci, nec ad aliquam scomissam, ubi denarii vel unniate currant, sub pena sol. X astensium de die; et sol. LX astiensium de nocte.

The same penalties are extended to the owner of the house and to those who make available sets of the game. The main problem facing us is what date to associate with this section on games. To reliably do that we should examine the codex well and check the spelling and any other clues. However, an examination of the transcript I just personally molded to rule out any involvement of the text of our interest with previous years the 1377. To convince myself of this I rely on two observations that can be drawn from the printed book. The first is the fact that the heading on games is at p. 114 of the book, corresponding to a very advanced stage of the transcribed statute. In short, the section in question has the air of a late addition to the primitive part of the Statute. Second, and related to the first, concerns the topics of sections immediately preceding and following that of our interest. Well, our heading, De luxoribus, is preceded by De bannis ovium et aliarum bestiarum and followed by De non interficiendo bestias to bechariam absque vision earum. In short, on control of herds and slaughterhouses (with personal visual inspection of the beast before and after slaughter). These were typically, together with variations in the composition and election of municipal offices, matters on which laws were recurrently changed slightly everywhere .

Re: 2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

#5
mikeh wrote: I could find no indication of something similar to "naibi" or "naipes" in anything Spanish c. 1370 (or any other time) in that note by Franco. On what page?
It appears in the Depaulis quote at beginning in the article, but I know it from other sources.
The citations you give are (a) all in Italy; and (b) are considered by Franco such poor evidence as at this point to be of minimal value.
...
In fact all the passages he quotes use "carta", "cartula", or some such thing, and never "naib-" etc. I myself wonder if which term is actually used might be a factor in how old the text is; but I have not seen the most relevant original texts of the late 15th-early 16th century and later.
I noted to this:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=345&start=270#p16794
From the perspective of the also insecure early notes of Hübsch (playing cards in early Bohemia) it's interesting, that these Italian notes follow the 3rd journey of emperor Charles IV to Italy in 1368/69 ... similar as the Bern prohibition in 1367 followed a stay of Charles IV in Bern in 1365 during his travel to the kingdom of Arles.

Porto Venere (Liguria, note in 1370, the earliest) has about 90 km distance to Lucca, where Charles IV spend most of his time during this journey.
Yes, these early insecure notes from Italy use carta or similar ... as in the 1353 document in Bohemia

Image

Image
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: 2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

#6
Just looking at the distribution list of the early Italian notes in the years, combined with a few notes, which might be key events:

1365: Charles IV in Bern, on his journey to Arles
1367: card prohibition in Bern

1368/69: Charles IV in Italy, mainly in Lucca
--------
Italy 1370: 1
Italy 1371: 2 or 3
Italy 1372: nothing
Italy 1373: nothing
Italy 1374: nothing
Italy 1375: 1
Italy1376: nothing ...
-------
1376: In Germany Charles IV with his son in Aachen (crowning of Wenzel)
early 1377: In Italy: The Pope returns to Italy, with much triumphal activities

-------
Italy 1377: 1 big and 11 more in the juridical cases 1377 (Pratesi article: 1377: Firenze – Condanne ai giocatori di naibi ) ; Florence is hostile against the pope in Italy
-------
1377 John of Rheinfelden observes cards in Freiburg, possibly after the peace between emperor Charles IV and the Schwäbische Städtebund May 1377
------
1378: nothing
1379: 1

The notes for playing cards are more or less negative notes (prohibitions); the travels of Charles IV and the pope might have been positive for card playing. The relationship between Charles IV and the popes were usually good. .
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: 2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

#7
At http://www.trionfi.com/0/e/r70/001bhuck.html you talk about Berne 1467, citing Hoffmann 1998, and also Dummett, linking to the icps article at http://jducoeur.org/game-hist/seaan-cardhist.html. I would like to know what Hoffmann says about Berne. I do not see there Dummett endorsing Berne 1467. So where does he make such an endoresement? It seems like a discredited source. Also I do not know your sources for Italy 1371 and Italy 1375.

I do see in the link you gave (to "jducoeur.org") the following:
According to Michael Dummett, the first reference to cards in Europe are in Spain (1371) as "naip" in a Catalan document.
The author does not say where Dummett would have made such a statement. In his or her bibliography, the only entry for Dummett is to Game of Tarot, which the author claims not to have read. It is not in that book that I can find. But it is in Le Monde e l'Angelo, 1993. footnote 6, p. 23, which I translate as:
6. The first document containing the word ‘naips', which means 'playing card', is the Diccionari de rims (Dictionary of rhymes) by the 1371 Catalan poet Jaume March (published under the editorship of Antoni Griera, Barcelona, 1921; see p. 63). Cf. Jean-Pierre Étienvre, Figures du jeu: études lexico-sémantiques sur le jeu de cartes en Espagne (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle), Madrid, 1987, pp. 19, 68. Étienvre cites another reference to playing cards in Llibre Francesc de les dones by Francesc Eiximenis, "probably of the same year".
I have recently posted this part of Dummett's book, in my translation, at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1094&p=16827&hilit=llibre#p16827. And here is the same passage in Dummett's Italian:
6 II primo documento contenente la parola «naips», che significa ‘carte da gioco’, è il Diccionari de rims (Vocabolario di rime) del 1371 del poeta catalano Jaume March (pubblicato a cura di Antoni Griera, Barcellona, 1921; si veda p. 63). Cfr. Jean-Pikrre Etienvre, Figures du jeu: etudes lexico-sémantiques sur le jeu de cortes en Espagne (XVI'-XVIIF siecle), Madrid, 1987, pp. 19, 68. Étienvre cita un altro riferimento alle carte da gioco nel Llibre de les dones di Francesc Eiximenis, «probabilmente dello stesso anno».
Dummett's note, or part of it, is expanded upon by Trevor Deming [added later: should be "Dennng"] in The Playing-Cards of Spain, 1996, p. 14. Lest we think it is a late interpolation, he assures us that the dictionary is extant in three manuscripts, stating unambiguously that it was completed in 1371 (MCCCLXXJ) for the "Lord King Pedro of Aragon". If it is already in a dictionary, the game is already being played widely by then, he points out. He does not mention the other book cited by Étienvre.

As I have said, I do not think this implies an Arab origin necessarily, because Catalan traders roamed widely, and their main source of slaves (and perhaps free passengers on business) was the eastern Black Sea area where the Mamluks also maintained non-Arab, even non-Muslim familial ties. There are apparently two references in Catalan (although the second needs more confirmation).

Also, I don't think it can be deduced that the word "naips" meant "playing card" (carta da gioco) in 1371 Catalonia, as opposed a game played with these instruments.

Added later: checking in Deming [added later: Denning], it seems that Dummett might have been in error about the form of the word in the dictionary in question. Deming [Denning\ says that in the 1921 printed edition it was "naip" and occurred in a list of words ending in -ip: "Macip, felip, garip, xorip, naip, estip, dip". Here it is obvious also that the word was pronounced in two syllables, na-ip.

According to Deming [added later: Denning], there are "Spanish references" starting in 1380--and incidentally showing a great variety: "pequenos, grandes, finas, doradas, damasquinas, moriscas, or franceses.The source is Augustin Duràn Sanpere, Grabados Populares Españoles, Baarcelona 1971, p. 119.

https://books.google.com/books?id=luFPA ... amasquinas

It would be worth checking his references, if he gives them, to see if all these kinds were really present in 1380, and where.

Deming [added later: Denning] cites a source that speaks of "...I joch de naips domasquins..." and "X jochs de naips moreschs", but this is 15th century. He sys that "domasquins" meant "Damascan", a term that rather specifically gives them Mamluk and Arab origin. But this is just one kind out of many!.

He also gives several other references (p. 16): in 1380, a shopkeeper's inventory in Barcelona has "unum ludum de nayps". In Perpignan of the same year, someone is listed as "pintor y naipero". Barcelona in 1382 is banning dice, backgammon, and playing cards in the corn exchange. In Valencia, there is a ban on "un novell joch apellat dels naips". In 1401 Barcelona a shopkeeper's inventory has "un joch de nayps grans pintats e dauratts, tots ab cubertes negres" (a pack of large cards painted and gilded, all in black wrappers").

Re: 2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

#8
mikeh wrote:At http://www.trionfi.com/0/e/r70/001bhuck.html you talk about Berne 1467, citing Hoffmann 1998, and also Dummett, linking to the icps article at http://jducoeur.org/game-hist/seaan-cardhist.html.
A very old page with a typo "1467" is "1367".
I would like to know what Hoffmann says about Berne. I do not see there Dummett endorsing Berne 1467. So where does he make such an endoresement? It seems like a discredited source. Also I do not know your sources for Italy 1371 and Italy 1375.
Franco's recent article, which was discussed earlier in this thread.
http://www.naibi.net/A/510-PRE1377ITA-Z.pdf
I do see in the link you gave (to "jducoeur.org") the following:
According to Michael Dummett, the first reference to cards in Europe are in Spain (1371) as "naip" in a Catalan document.
The author does not say where Dummett would have made such a statement. In his or her bibliography, the only entry for Dummett is to Game of Tarot, which the author claims not to have read. It is not in that book that I can find. But it is in Le Monde e l'Angelo, 1993. footnote 6, p. 23, which I translate as:
6. The first document containing the word ‘naips', which means 'playing card', is the Diccionari de rims (Dictionary of rhymes) by the 1371 Catalan poet Jaume March (published under the editorship of Antoni Griera, Barcelona, 1921; see p. 63). Cf. Jean-Pierre Étienvre, Figures du jeu: études lexico-sémantiques sur le jeu de cartes en Espagne (XVIe-XVIIIe siècle), Madrid, 1987, pp. 19, 68. Étienvre cites another reference to playing cards in Llibre Francesc de les dones by Francesc Eiximenis, "probably of the same year".
I have recently posted this part of Dummett's book, in my translation, at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1094&p=16827&hilit=llibre#p16827. And here is the same passage in Dummett's Italian:
6 II primo documento contenente la parola «naips», che significa ‘carte da gioco’, è il Diccionari de rims (Vocabolario di rime) del 1371 del poeta catalano Jaume March (pubblicato a cura di Antoni Griera, Barcellona, 1921; si veda p. 63). Cfr. Jean-Pikrre Etienvre, Figures du jeu: etudes lexico-sémantiques sur le jeu de cortes en Espagne (XVI'-XVIIF siecle), Madrid, 1987, pp. 19, 68. Étienvre cita un altro riferimento alle carte da gioco nel Llibre de les dones di Francesc Eiximenis, «probabilmente dello stesso anno».
Dummett's note, or part of it, is expanded upon by Trevor Deming in The Playing-Cards of Spain, 1996, p. 14. Lest we think it is a late interpolation, he assures us that the dictionary is extant in three manuscripts, stating unambiguously that it was completed in 1371 (MCCCLXXJ) for the "Lord King Pedro of Aragon". If it is already in a dictionary, the game is already being played widely by then, he points out. He does not mention the other book cited by Étienvre.

As I have said, I do not think this implies an Arab origin necessarily, because Catalan traders roamed widely, and their main source of slaves (and perhaps free passengers on business) was the eastern Black Sea area where the Mamluks also maintained non-Arab, even non-Muslim familial ties. There are apparently two references in Catalan (although the second needs more confirmation).

Also, I don't think it can be deduced that the word "naips" meant "playing card" (carta da gioco) in 1371 Catalonia, as opposed a game played with these instruments.

Added later: checking in Deming, it seems that Dummett might have been in error about the form of the word in the dictionary in question. Deming says that in the 1921 printed edition it was "naip" and occurred in a list of words ending in -ip: "Macip, felip, garip, xorip, naip, estip, dip". Here it is obvious also that the word was pronounced in two syllables, na-ip.
The name is Denning, Trevor Denning. He especially worked on the Spanish contexts.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trevor_Denning
Denning was also a published expert on Spanish playing cards. He was made the first Member of Honour of the Asociación Española de Coleccionismo e Investigación del Naipe in 1989 and in 1993 won the Modiano Prize for research into the history of playing cards.
According to Deming, there are "Spanish references" starting in 1380--and incidentally showing a great variety: "pequenos, grandes, finas, doradas, damasquinas, moriscas, or franceses.The source is Augustin Duràn Sanpere, Grabados Populares Españoles, Baarcelona 1971, p. 119.

https://books.google.com/books?id=luFPA ... amasquinas

It would be worth checking his references, if he gives them, to see if all these kinds were really present in 1380, and where.

Deming cites a source that speaks of "...I joch de naips domasquins..." and "X jochs de naips moreschs", but this is 15th century. He sys that "domasquins" meant "Damascan", a term that rather specifically gives them Mamluk and Arab origin. But this is just one kind out of many!.

He also gives several other references (p. 16): in 1380, a shopkeeper's inventory in Barcelona has "unum ludum de nayps". In Perpignan of the same year, someone is listed as "pintor y naipero". Barcelona in 1382 is banning dice, backgammon, and playing cards in the corn exchange. In Valencia, there is a ban on "un novell joch apellat dels naips". In 1401 Barcelona a shopkeeper's inventory has "un joch de nayps grans pintats e dauratts, tots ab cubertes negres" (a pack of large cards painted and gilded, all in black wrappers").
http://www.wopc.co.uk/history/earlyrefs
... gave often an overview about the Spanish documents
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: 2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

#9
http://www.wopc.co.uk/history/earlyrefs is the kind of web article that I absolutely hate. It gives no references whatsoever, so there is no way of checking its accuracy. You have to do a web search of each item and hope that someone on the web has given a source. Often this ends up being wasted effort. Its being a "timeline" is no excuse. In my view anyone who posts a timeline should have a good reference for every single entry, if only to a footnote or a web posting that does have one. Timelines are good for getting a picture of developments, but worthless if you don't know whether it is accurate. That is something I learned on ATF, dealing with a rather fuzzy one.

For example, it says:
1371 CATALONIA (Spain) the word naip is defined as “playing cards” in the Llibre de Concordances, ...
That is of course false. "Naip" merely occurs in a list of words ending in -ip. And it surely would not give a definition using the English "playing cards", much less the plural ("naip" is the singular form). But how do you know what the "Llibre" really says, without a source?

Then the next entry has:
1376 FLORENCE 23 May. A game called ‘naibbe’ is forbidden in a decree, with the implication that the game had only recently been introduced there.
It was actually 23 March, 1377. And the word had a variety of spellings in the 6 different sets of minutes, many rather hard to make out, as Franco showed visually at http://www.naibi.net/A/20-INTROFLO-Z.pdf.

And so on. However the site does serve as a good source of leads to use in finding what might be references to actual documents kept somewhere, and for that I thank you. For example, for Barcelona 1380 the quote apparently isn't just "unum ludus de nayps" but "unum ludus de nayps qui sunt quadraginta quatour pecie". If the further words were of interest, I could try to find a source (ignoring, of course, the writer's suggestion that it might refer to "two sets of tarot trumps").

Speaking of sources, I still do not have one from you regarding 1367 Bern/Berne, from Hoffman 1998, Dummett post-1980, or anyone else (except Kopp, who started the whole thing).

Sorry about "Deming". I was reading from my scan and couldn't find where I'd put my glasses. And I am a little frayed. Yesterday it was 105 degrees Fahrenheit at a time of year when it is usually never gets above 70, and my place didn't cool down much at night, despite fans. I am resisting using the air conditioner. It is better tonight.

Re: 2016 Pratesi note on Islamic cards

#10
It's a rather old page, but it was the first, which had anything about early playing cards in Spain. So "it was" good once. I guess, that the Spanish research all goes back to Denning and his time.
Generally the interest in old Spanish playing cards had stayed small. The IPCS hadn't so much members from there.

I saw once pictures of colored playing cards printed by woodcuts c. 1400 or 1410 or something like this ... in Spanish. The info and the page has disappeared. It would be something like the oldest woodcuts.
I could imagine, that Spain had been the first with woodcut cards. Germany mentions usually the Christopher of 1418 as the oldest woodcut.
The communication between Spain and the rest of Europe isn't so good, at least, as far playing cards are concerned. But likely early playing cards in Spain were more common than in most other countries in Europe.

Recently I wrote:
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1089
For example, for Barcelona 1380 the quote apparently isn't just "unum ludus de nayps" but "unum ludus de nayps qui sunt quadraginta quatour pecie".
Well, the oldest information about any deck structure beside the info from JvR.

For your eyes: You can easily enlarge with "ctrl_+" ( control +)
Huck
http://trionfi.com

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