The Ganjifa Card Game

The Ganjifa card game

The Ganjifa card game is a card game and a type of playing card traditionally associated with Persia and India. In contrast to the most well-known cards, they are circular in shape and have a lot of graphic detail.

At For Cards Lovers, we will show you all kinds of information and games about the Ganjifa card game.


History of the Ganjifa card game

The origin of the maps remains uncertain, but it is believed that the ganjifa maps, as we know them today, originated in Persia.

The first syllable is attributed to the Persian word "ganj" which means treasure. The last two syllables of the word "Ganjifa" can be derived from the Chinese chi-p'ai, which means "playing cards.

Ganjifa, are the traditional Indian playing cards introduced in the 16th century from Iran and despite their importance, especially in the villages, they fell into disuse in the 1990s in the face of poker cards and electronic games.

In the traditional ganjifa we find a wide variety of designs related to Indian legends and traditions. Despite this, no pattern has been repeated in the various card games of Ganjifa.

It is believed that the Ganjifa card game was one of the first to appear in the world and had a clear influence on the appearance of later European card games.


Number of cards in the Ganjifa game

The Ganjifa card game does not have a clearly defined number. Nevertheless, the most normal is that each suit has 12 cards, with 10 symbols numbered from 1 to 10, then 2 cards, one from a king and one from a minister. But there are also the ganjifas that have 84 or 120 cards, always in multiples of 12.


The final number of the game depends on the number of colours that make it up, each centred on a symbol from the Indian tradition. So far, the largest known ganjifa consists of 636 cards.


The Signs of the Ganjifa Bridge

The signs of the Ganjifa card game, as well as the number of cards is also variable. Each is centered on a type of Indian symbolism.

Each suit is different for the cards, making these cards a true work of art in many ways.

The most common signs are similar to those that make up modern playing cards, such as coins, flowers or swords, although one can also find costumes represented by animals or divine creatures or even everyday objects.


The main games of the Ganjifa card game

  • Ganjifa


It is the game most often associated with ganjifa cards. It is a game of tricks, played individually, each player playing for himself.

The goal is to win as many cards as possible by winning tricks. The goal is to win as many cards as possible by winning tricks. You need at least three players. It is also possible to play with two. The rules vary, but the following generally apply:

In the simplest form of the game, there is no concept of a "trump card" that beats cards of other suits. A trick can only be won with a card of the same suit.


When a player is not able to win a round, he is not obliged to follow the first place.


In all cases, the King is always the strongest card of each suit, followed by the Wazir and then by order of number, with 1 being the weakest and 10 the strongest.

Before the start of the game, bets are agreed upon if the game is played for money. At the end of the round, the losing player pays that bet value, multiplied by the difference in the number of rounds won by the winner and the loser.


  • Naqsh


This game has some similarities to Blackjack, which would place it as its predecessor.

Several players can play the game, 6 being the ideal number.

In Naqsh, the "Mir" (or King) is worth 12 points, and the second card is listed, the "Ghodi" (or Vizier, Knight or Queen) is worth 11. The other cards are worth the values they have scored, including the ace which has a value of 1.

The objective is to reach a total value of 17 with the first two cards dealt, or the nearest number below that total. Players with low value cards may continue to draw additional cards to try to improve their total.


Editorial Team

Bibliography consulted

Forcardslovers was created by a group of card game enthusiasts. ForCardslovers.com is a website where we share the meaning and the interpretation of cartomancy, as well as our favourite games with the different cards that exist in the world and, moreover, you can play online the card games of the moment. Enter and discover also different magic tricks to surprise your family or friends!