The word Ganjifa comes from the Persian word Ganjife, meaning playing cards. The first known reference is in the diary of Emperor Babur in 1527. The game first became popular at court, in the form of lavish sets of precious stone – inlaid ivory or tortoise shell. It later spread to the general public, whereupon cheaper sets would be made from materials such as wood, palm leaf, or pastebord.
Ganjifa cards were circular and traditionally hand-made by local artisans. The suits were composed in 12 subjects on colored backgrounds, with cards running to 1 to 10, and two court cards, of a minister or counselor, and a king. The precise style and arrangement of the decoration on any set was dependent on its artist.
Ganjifa – the playing cards, has a strong cultural specificity of origin and has the malleability of regional adoptions. Historically Ganjifa has had an obvious handmade origin and it is feasible to create small miniature prints like playing cards.
Thus, game of cards – Ganjia, became my theme for the international print show. I shared this conept with my friends and art community and the response was overwhelming.
Ganjifa has 54 printmakiers from across the globe – each one has created one cards in edition of 60. Participants are from Japan to US, and Europe to South Africa. Each artists has chosen a specific card and put their cultural and artistic impression on them.
There are total 60 Ganjifa portfolios created, of which 54 are being shared among the participants. Rest will be owned and exhibited by Chhaap – Foundation for Printmaking Trust. Sales proceed of these portfolios will go towards the promotion of print media via various activities under Chhaap.
Many participants are proposing the shows of these portfolio in their home countries and I am sure this will help in promoting printmaking as still valuable art form.