Chao Playing Cards
China’s extraordinary history dates back to more than 5000 years and provides a rich collection of royal subjects which forms the basis of the Chao Playing Cards (limited production run of 12k each).
Over the lengthy span of Chinese history, each Chao (which is the pronounced word for dynasty in the Chinese language) is distinguished by the name and the impact of the individuals that ruled over that period of time. This very special and unique deck of cards pays tribute to four of the greatest and most recognized dynasties in Chinese history – Han, Tang, Ming and Qing. Each dynasty has an outstanding and reputable Emperor, Empress and General, each with their own notorious traits and fascinating stories. The Chao depict these influential men and women that were renowned and celebrated from each of the four famous dynasties.
To ensure we captured the essence of each dynasty, we invested a lot of time and resource into the research part of this project. The illustrations and design takes inspiration from not only the renowned rulers of the four Dynasties but also from Chinese culture itself, which is visible throughout the deck.
The chosen Chinese Emperors, Empresses and Generals all represent great power, wealth and wisdom, each with different traits and personalities and each dynasty holds their own trademarks to differentiate them from others. Inspired by these different elements, each Emperor features distinct clothing and accessories from their era, Empress’s have different hair pieces and holds the instrument that they played and Generals wear armor and yield the weapon used to fight in their notorious battles. Fine intricate details are added onto each court card, allowing each individual to possess different facial features which best reflects their character.
The Chao was designed to closely follow that of a traditional deck of cards in terms of positioning including head facing direction, hand placements and the presence of weapons and artifacts.
The 4 aces includes very detailed Chinese patterns. We also added a Chinese dragon on the ace of spades – a symbolism of imperial power and strength.
Each suit i.e. Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds reflects one of the four chosen dynasties (Han, Tang, Ming and Qing), with a renowned Emperor, Empress and General from that dynasty representing the King, Queen and Jack. Choosing who or what to use to represent the Jokers was not a straight forward task as we wanted these 2 very important cards to have some significant value so we chose 2 very important figures which are still looked very highly upon even up until this present day.
The Chao playing cards represents the History of China and where better to produce this deck than in China itself.
This is not just any ordinary deck of cards from China, but a completely new limited edition deck (only 12k of each will be produced) manufactured by MPC in terms of design and materials. We broke down the elements that make a great deck of cards and re-engineered it in its entirety from card stock finishing to varnishing used. The card stock is a new much lighter card stock which was specifically developed to obtain a perfect balance between the softness and stiffness needed to excel in performance such as for cardistry, magic tricks and handling. The new varnishing was a monumental part to this project which has been in development over the past 2 years. It took longer than we wanted but it was completely worth the time and investment. The outcome is truly exceptional. I guess you will have to try it to feel the unique difference of this newly engineered deck. As this deck is a limited edition, once it runs out, that’ll be it.