| ♣ clubs
A playing card is a piece of specially prepared heavy paper, thin card, or thin plastic, figured with distinguishing motifs and used as one of a set for playing card games. Playing cards are typically palm-sized for convenient handling.
|diamonds ♦ |
A complete set of cards is called a pack or deck, and the set of cards held at one time by a player during a game is commonly called their hand. A deck of cards may be used for playing a great variety of card games, some of which may also incorporate gambling. Because playing cards are both standardized and commonly available, they are often adapted for other uses, such as magic tricks, cartomancy, encryption, boardgames, or building a house of cards.
| ♥ hearts
The front (or "face") of each card carries markings that distinguish it from the other cards in the deck and determine its use under the rules of the game being played. The back of each card is identical for all cards in any particular deck, and usually of a single color or formalized design. The back of playing cards is sometimes used for advertising. For most games, the cards are assembled into a deck, and their order is randomized by shuffling.
|spades ♠ |
Playing cards were found in China as early as the 9th century during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), when relatives of a princess played a "leaf game". The Tang writer Su E (obtained a jinshi degree in 885) stated that Princess Tongchang (?–870), daughter of Emperor Yizong of Tang (r. 860–874), played the leaf game with members of the Wei clan to pass the time. The Song Dynasty (960–1279) scholar Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072) asserted that card games existed since the mid Tang Dynasty and associated their invention with the simultaneous development of using sheets or pages instead of paper rolls as a writing medium. A book called Yezi Gexi was allegedly written by a Tang era woman, and was commented on by Chinese writers of subsequent dynasties.