Our museum interpretation of the four suits of the playing cards stand for the four elements: The Earth, Winds, Seasons, and basic directions.
The thirteen cards of each suit signify the thirteen lunar months, and make up a detailed allegory of life with all its joys and pains.
Playing cards were invented by the Chinese before AD 1000. They reached Europe around 1360, not directly from China but from the Mameluke empire of Egypt. The history of suitmarks demonstrates a fascinating interplay between words, shapes and concepts.
24K gold-plate over pewter/brass. Measures approximately 0.6" x 0.7".