created since 2003       

References to cards in the Muslimic world

Michael Dummett, "The Game of Tarot", p. 42 (1980), knows of three references in "medieval" Arabic literature to Kanjifa (various spellings).
"So far, three references to playing cards are known from mediaeval Arabic literature. One is from the Thousand and One Nights, despite the frequent assertions to the contrary in modern writings on playing cards." [this reference is from the story of Tawaddud, nights 460-461 - note of Ross Caldwell]. "Another is from the sixteenth-century writer Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (1504-1567). The most important is a passage in the Annals of Ibn Taghri-Birdi (a history of the Mamluk rulers from 1382-1469) to which attention was first drawn by Mme Laila Serageddin. In this, the future Sultan al-Malik al-Mu'ayyad is recorded to have won a large sum of money in a game of cards in about the year 1400 (the date is not precisely given). This confirms that playing cards were known in Mamluk Egypt at a date not long after their first appearance in Europe."

Collected by Ross Caldwell

1001 Nights

"O Tawaddud, there is one thing left of that for which thou didst engage, namely, chess." And he sent for experts of chess and cards* and trictrac. The chess-player sat down before her, and they set the pieces, and he moved and she moved; but, every move he made she speedily countered, — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say."
*The Arabic term used in original is "Kanjifah"=a pack of cards; corrupted from the Persian “Ganjífah.” We know little concerning the date or origin of this game in the East, where the packs are quite unlike ours.

Quote from: (Source), found in the web by Kwaw.

Ibn Taghri-Birdi

Simon Wintle gives the following notes at his website:

c.1400 EGYPT A passage in Ibn Taghri-Birdi's "Annals of Egypt and Syria" (dealing with events of the year 1417-1418) mentions that the future sultan al-Malik al-Mu'ayyad won a large sum of money in a game of cards. This confirms that playing cards were known in Mamluk Egypt not long after they first appeared in Europe. The text reads:

"The reason for the seizure of the aforementioned Akba'i [the governor of Syria residing in Damascus] was that the Sultan al-Malik al-Mu'ayyad [reigned from 1412 to 1427] had, in the days when he was emir, purchased a youth for 2000 dirhams which he had won playing 'kanjafah' [or 'kanjifah']. Al-Malik al-Mu'ayyad was at that time a qa'id and he was playing cards with one of his comrades and had won many dirhams from this man. Then the aforementioned Akba'i was brought into his presence together with his dealer. He [al-Mu'ayyad] was taken with him and he purchased him. The dealer then sought out his [al-Mu'ayyad's] bursar in order to collect the price of the aforementioned Akba'i, but he could not find him; so al-Mu'ayyad himself paid him the price from the dirhams which he had won gambling..."

(Collected by Huck Meyer)