Ganjapa : Pattachitra & Playing Card Both Rolled In To One
Romancing with old world playing cards…better known as GANJAPA
Yesteryears playing cards ‘Ganjapa’ still exist in at least a few pockets of Odisha. These are still being made by the artisans belonging to few specific areas like Raghurajpur ( Heritage crafts village near Chandan pur, Puri, Odisha), Dandasahi , Paralakhemundi etc… Even today some elderly people remain indulged in playing GANJAPA during indolent afternoons particularly in few pockets of deep interior rural belts of Puri and Ganjam districts.
Ganjapa,Image source: Pinterest
Origin and History of Ganjapa
In the sixteenth century, round shaped playing card game with amazing works of Pattachitra on them – a workmanship called Ganjappa – were astoundingly well known in Odisha. Etymologically ‘Ganjapa’, got its name from a Persian word ‘Gajife’, finds its earliest notice in 1527 A.D. in the diaries of Emperor Babur. These days, this round shaped playing card game (having intriguing standard pattachitra workmanship on them) have varying subjects – depictions of the Ramayana, the ten manifestations of Lord Vishnu, divine creatures and goddesses of Hindu scriptures etc . It was being played in India, Nepal, Iran, Turkey and some Arab lands. Today the custom of making Ganjapa cards is almost on the way to extinction on the grounds that not very many craftsmen are truly occupied with this imaginative pursuit. Ganjifa is unfortunately en route to turning into a collectible, or a gatherer’s thing.
Mughals take the credit of introducing this card game to the Indian mass .These cards were once considered to be a luxury of imperial people and subsequently couldn’t be handily managed by the majority . Over the long haul, these cards soon streamed down to the overall population and every locale in the subcontinent began making their novel Ganjifa. Odisha went under the mughal rule and subsequently some years later under British rule somewhat late in contrast with different other parts of India and consequently the Ganjapa cards found in Odisha appear to be unique from those found in rest portions of India. The work of art found on Ganjapa in Ganjam region is unique in relation to that of Puri region. Assuming we consider the quantity of individuals playing and delivering Ganjapa cards then, at that point , Odisha tops the list.
Preparation, Colour and Theme of the artwork on Ganjapa
The compositions on Ganjifas or Ganjapas are totally done using natural dyes.But now a days , because of the easy availability and comparative less effort needed, artisans have started using chemical colours being available in the market. Anyway, these natural colours are generally painted on a base made of cloth.The basic five tones are prepared in the following way.
White Colour – Sea Shell powder
Red Colour – Stone/a sort of soil
Blue Colour – Khandneel stone
Yellow Colour – from a Hingul stone that can be accessible just in winters when the temperature is low as it is flammable at high temperature
Dark Colour – Soot of oil lamps/burnt coconut shell
Different tones are ready by stirring up the previously mentioned colours to various extents.. The brush is ready by utilising mongoose or squirrel hairs…
However uncommon, Ganjapa has likewise been viewed as made of palm leaf, sandalwood, ivory, or paper as well. The artisans regularly use squirrel hair brushes to make the finely etched pictures..
The size of every roundabout card is something similar in breadth ( ordinarily changes between 5 to 7cm) . These cards are ready from two-collapsed fabric with three-inch width. One needs to wash the fabric with a glue of tamarind seeds, blend it in with Genguti stone powder and dry it under the sun to make it solid. The specialist cuts the cards in round size and rubs each card on the stone to make it smooth. He paints 12 normal tones in each card and again dries it under the sun. At the point when it evaporates, he paints conventional expressions on the outer layer of each card according to the prerequisites remembering topics of the Ramayana, Dasavatara (ten manifestations of Lord Vishnu) etc…The rear of the card is painted in red with a covering of kewda (known as kia in Odia) passes on to make it sparkle. During the antiquated period, Ganjapa cards were covered with gold and silver. Hardly any scientists believe that Ganjapa traces all the way back to north of 1,200 years and it entered India from Turkey. Notwithstanding, the specific date when it entered Odisha (especially Puri and Paralakhemundi) isn’t known .While it requires something like several weeks to prepare a set of Ganjapa, its value shifts between Rs 600 to Rs 5,400 with extremely restricted clients. We can come to the conclusion that the artisans are not getting the right cost for their creative endeavours and physical work .
The artisans by and large get ready Ganjapa with artworks of Dasabatara( ten manifestations of Lord Vishnu), Nabagraha ( nine planets), Astamalla, Bara rasi ( 12 jodiac signs) Ramayana, Mahabharata and 27 Nakshatra( 27 stars) .
“Atharangi Ganjapa” cards painted with traditional Pattachitra painting
image source: Wikipedia
Image source:Disha Fartyal
Image source: Pinterest
Image source: Discover Bhubaneswar
Image source: Nirmalya web solutions
Ganjapa is played as “Charirangi” (cards of 4 colours in a pack of card), “Atharangi” (cards of 8 colours),”Dasarangi” (cards of 10 colours), “Bararangi” (cards of 12 colours), “Chaudarangi” (cards of 14 colours) and “Sohalarangi” (cards of 16 colours). Each colour has 12 cards that makes the complete number of cards a multiple of twelve . For example a “Charirangi Ganjapa” has 48 cards( 12×4). An “Atharangi Ganjapa” has 96 cards(12×8) etc. Each colour is identifiable by a special foundation colour.
Present Status of the Market
However, there is no market for these Ganjapa in Puri or Paralakhemundi or in any other place of Odisha . Prior, the agents were coming to the doorstep of these rural artisans. But nowadays they are sending these Ganjapa through packages to dealers situated in various urban areas in the wake of getting orders on the telephone. The expensive assortments of Ganjappa are around Rs 2,500 for Ramayana subject , Rs 4,300 for Mahabharata and Rs 5500 for 27 Nakshatra topics . Ganjapa cards with 27 Nakshatra artworks are not being made for a really long time because of decline in demand and significant expense factor.
It is a direct result of diminishing interest for Ganjapa cards, absence of government support and expanding everyday family upkeep costs, numerous Ganjappa specialists have left their deep rooted family tradition of preparing it and have turned off to various different trades.
To save this craft of making Ganjappa for our posterity, the state government should run an instructional hub at Puri or Bhubaneshwar or Paralakhemundi for sprouting artisans to make them familiar with the workmanship and give some monetary advantage to their family. In the wake of this precarious situation of Ganjapa, would you like to extend a helping hand to the artisans by purchasing a few sets of their cards???.🙋♂️🤔🌹
Dr. Manoj Mishra