Raja Ravi Varma's Playing Cards
 
 

Much has been written about the late Raja Ravi Varma (1848 - 1906), the great painter from Trivandrum and his immortal paintings. Special exhibitions of Ravi Varma's paintings have been held at Trivandrum and at New Delhi, and slide illustrated talks have been given in Mumbai and other cities. The articles and talks go into great detail about his paintings, calendar art and the printing press he started in Bombay in 1894. The articles discuss in detail the reproductions of Indian puranic and religous themes. They fail to even mention the beautiful and colourful playing cards that were printed at the press after it was moved to Lonavla.

The exact number of different decks produced by the Raja Ravi Varma Press is not known, but two of them are described here.

The first is a Historical pack with Moghul rulers, their Begums and armed guards.

 

Suit
King
Queen
  Diamonds
Tamerlane (1336 - 1405)
Noor-Jehan Begum
  Spades
Akhbar Shah (1542 - 1605)
Motee Begum
  Hearts
Shah Jehan (1582 - 1666)
Taj Mahal Begum
  Clubs
Aurangzebe (1618 - 1707)
Zenat Mahal Begum

 

This deck, like the others was published by the Raja Ravi Varma Press after his death in 1906. The captions on the court cards are in English, and the printing was likely done by nine or ten colour chromolithography.

The Ace of Spades displays the trade mark "RRV" and the words "TRADE MARK RAVI VARMA PRESS KARLI BOMBAY".

 
 
King, Queen and Jack of Diamond
 
 
 
     
 

King, Queen and Jack of Spades

 
 
 
     
 

King, Queen and Jack of Hearts

 
 
 
     
 

King, Queen and Jack of Clubs

 
 
 
     
 
The second pack has Indian mythological figures for the court cards.
 
 
Suit
King
Queen
Jack
  Diamonds
Nala Raja
Damayanti Rani
Raj Hans
  Spades
Shri Ramachandra
Shri Sitadevi
Shri Hanuman
  Hearts
Harishchandra Raja
Taramati Rani
Sage Vishwamitra
  Clubs
Dushyant Raja
Shakuntala Rani
Sutradhar

The court card captions on this deck are written in Hindi. The Ace of Spades shows the trade mark "RRV" and the words "TRADE MARK RAVI VARMA PRESS KARLA-LONAVLA".

 
 

 

 
 
Nala Raja, Damayanti Rani and Raj Hans
 
 
 
 

Shri Ramachandra, Shri Sitadevi and Shri Hanuman

 
 
 
 
Harishchandra Raja, Taramati Rani and Sage Vishwamitra
 
 
 
 

Dushyant Raja, Shakuntala Rani and Sutradhar

 
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
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