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Playing cards even competed with devotional images as the most common uses for woodcut in this period.Most early woodcuts of all types were coloured after printing, either by hand or, from about 1450 onwards, stencils.Several other important engravers also made cards, including Master ES and Martin Schongauer.Engraving was much more expensive than woodcut, and engraved cards must have been relatively unusual.Documents mentioning cards date from 1371 in Spain, 1377 in Switzerland, and 1380 in many locations including Florence and Paris. ) does not mention cards, but its 1377 update does.

The first reference to card games in world history dates from the 9th century, when the Collection of Miscellanea at Duyang, written by Tang Dynasty writer Su E, described Princess Tongchang (daughter of Emperor Yizong of Tang) playing the "leaf game" in 868 with members of the Wei clan (the family of the princess' husband).This particular complete pack was not made before 1400, but the complete deck was matched to a privately owned fragment dated to the 12th or 13th century.It is not a complete deck, but there are cards of three packs of the same style.Playing cards first entered Europe in the late 14th century, probably from Mamluk Egypt, with suits (sets of cards with matching designs) very similar to the tarot suits of Swords, Staves, Cups and Coins (also known as disks or pentacles), and which are still used in traditional Italian, Spanish and Portuguese decks.The Mameluke deck contained 52 cards comprising four "suits:" polo sticks, coins, swords, and cups.

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