Unique Playing Cards From Madagascar
   

::: M A D A G A S C A R   ISLAND   and   P L A Y I N G    C A R D S :::

 
 

Madagascar, the worlds forth largest island, is situated a mere 400 kilometers east of Africa. Its flora and fauna, its human population, its language and religion however, are completely divorced from those of the continent. There are neither large beasts of prey nor poisonous snakes. The indigenous constrictors are more closely related to the boas of South America than the pythons of Africa. There are no monkeys, but lemurs, those being found only on Madagascar. The human population is a mix of Malayasian, Indonesian and Polynesian and speaks a unique Polynesian dialect. The 60% of the population that is not Christian are ancestor worshippers.

In view of this, it would be reasonable to expect that the indigenous playing cards would be equally unique, and this is indeed the case. A most exhaustive search there revealed only one type of local deck on sale. The deck is entitled "Tanisa" and is comprised of 56 cards, the 52 cards of the International Pattern deck, an introducing card, a Joker and an extra Joker plus a contract bridge scoring table.

The cards measure 88mm by 62 mm and are glazed only on the backs which have a brown background with a double ended bison's head and horns. There are other decks which have backs with a brown background with yellow and green vertical stripes enclosing white geometric patterns. The corners of the bison backed decks are silver, those of the geometric backed are gilt. The court cards are historical and named in the French Fashion and indexed with a V for a Jack, D for a Queen and R for a King, and the Aces with I. The Ace of the spades bears the manufacturer's logo and the words "Made in Madagasikara".

The Malagasy names are translated in the following table :

S U I T:

R A N K:

N A M E:

T R A N S L A T I O N:

CLUBS::

JACK

IMALINA

WARY

 

QUEEN

HASINA

SACRED

 

KING

TSARAFIDY

WELL  CHOSEN

DIAMONDS::

JACK

LEMAILAKA

NIMBLE

 

QUEEN

TSARAHOBY

WELL  ACCLAIMED

 

KING

TSARALANJA

GOOD  VALUE

HEARTS::

JACK

TSILAVO

UNVANQUISHED

 

QUEEN

ANJARASOA

GOOD  FORTUNE

 

KING

TSARALAZA

OF  GOOD  REPUTE

SPADES ::

JACK

IMATSILO

ASTUTE

 

QUEEN

MIRANA

RADIANT

 

KING

TSIROATENY

RESOLUTELY  VERACIOUS

 
     
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
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