Mysore Ganjifa

                                                                                By Ganjifa Raghupathi Bhat

History of Ganjifa Paintings


Originally the one thousand years old playing cards from India were known as Kreeda Patra in Sanskrit.

During the Mughal rule and with the advent of handmade paper ,the indoor game became a royal pastime and was patronized by the Badshas.It was during this period that with the Persian and Arabic Influence the Kreeda Patra was called Ganjifa Ganj means money or treasure and playing  for stakes became a favorite diversionamong the aristocrats.

The Ganjifa with dozen different styles ( Bengal,Kashmir,Orissa,Rajasthan,Konkan,Mysore etc)in color,lines and themes however more than ameans of Game.

Each cards were sensitively hand painted with super fine squirrel hair brushes using Vegetables and mineral colors in miniature style. Various  mediums like Ivory, tortoise shell, mother of pearl, gold and silver in circular and rectangular shapes. Ganjifa Cards were created on handmade paper, cloth or sandalwood.

The old state of Mysore saw a great cultural and religious revival under MommudiKrishnarajaWodeyar (1794-1868).The Maharaja was the author of –among many books-the monumental ‘Sri Tatwanidhi’ the last chapter of which describes a 18 packs of cards(Kreeda Patra) invented and designed by ruler and his artists. These Kreeda Patras were also known as Chada or DevaraAata (God’s Game) in Karnataka.

Though this craft was a remarkable instance of the superb craftsmanship the Ganjifa artists with the introduction of European Cards in 19th century the adoration of Ganjifa gradually went down and viewers as well as the players got much attracted to the stylized figures of French King, Queen and Jack.

Ganjifa Raghupathi Bhat is credited with having revived the Mysore Ganjifa Paintings

Mysore Ganjifa shines bright with international renowned artist Raghupathi Bhat known as Ganjifa Raghupathi Bhat take the craft to new heights. A committed practitioner of the intricate Ganjifa art for over three decades,Raghupathi Bhatta has carved a unique niche for himself.

Raghupathi Bhat revived Mysore Ganjifa Paintings in the early 1980’s (1981-1982).He chanced upon 200 years old Ganjifa originals and he was attracted to the beauty  of the paintings and was fascinated with the fact that these cards had stood the test of time and not lost any of their original beauty.Later after a lot of research , God gifted skills and with his immense knowledge  he successfully re-created large numbers of Ganjifa Paintings and conducted workshops and trained hundreds of artisans so far.

Raghupathi Bhat had established the Ganjifa Art museum in Sri Rangapatna in 1991 and was shifted that to Mysore Wellington house in 1994 which was the World’s first Ganjifa Museum but unfortunately he couldn’t continue the museum.


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