[Persian playing cards for the game of "Al Nas"].

Accession number: 
MS W.65
[Persian playing cards for the game of "Al Nas"].
[ca. 1850]
Bequest; Julia Parker Wightman; 1994.
27 cards : lacquer painted papier mâché, ill. ; 60 x 40 mm.
25 cards purchased by Julia Parker Wightman in 1953; 2 cards purchased by Julia Parker Wightman from Harry A. Levinson, Beverly Hills, CA, in 1958; JPW 1957; Julia Parker Wightman Bequest in 1994.

Ms. persian playing cards; painted in Iran, ca. 1850.
According to Wightman description in the box, the 25 cards purchased together comprise a set of 5 suits distinguished by colors of background: green, yellow, red, gold, and black, 5 cards to each color: Ace, King, Queen, Soldier, Dancer. There are in reality 4 different sets distinguished by alpha-numerical inscriptions on the backs of the cards: 1, 2, 2a, 3, and the name of the card is identified for each set: 1 King, 1 Queen, etc. The remaining 5 cards have no inscriptions on the back, and each has a different illustration, all falling outside the named card categories, and seemingly of more Western subject matter. The 2 cards purchased separately have cloth ring hangers attached at their tops, probably for display. They obviously pertain to the same playing card genre, as they are of equal size, and represent two motifs from the sets: a Queen and a Soldier.
Decoration: 27 rectangular cards, each bearing a painted motif: animal, floral, or figural, within a central oval, varying in background colors; floral decoration at the four corners.
Binding: in maroon cloth box and slipcase; cover lined in floral-stamped paper, bottom divided into 6 compartments with velvet false bottoms, raised by a silk ribbon stub; leather spine on slipcase inscribed: Persian "Al Nas" cards; signed JPW 54.

In English;