Dragon Cards/”Naipes del Dragon”

Also identified as the Portuguese Pattern, the origin of these cards appears to be Iberian, but were printed much further afield, and its influences can be seen in places such as Antwerp, Brazil, Italy, India, Java, Malta, and Sicily. These cards were carried by the sailors who arrived in Japan in about 1550.


Dragon cards with backs and anachronistic tens

Like other Iberian packs, there are no tens, but the suits of swords and sticks are long and intersecting, more akin to Italian cards.
The courts of dragon cards are unusual for Latin suited cards, as they feature female sotas/pages. The “maid” of swords and clubs is each holding her suit sign to swing it at a held dragon! Each of the aces also features a dragon.

Sheets produced in Spain by Franco Flores survives, and I have referenced them as well as other fragments. Franco’s pack is the most complete reference, and dates to about 1580.
Like other Latin suited patterns, there is a xylograph for every card in the pack. This means these will take some time.

Since I approach the packs from a rather anachronistic point of view, I have decided to give this one a clue to give it more specific dating. On the two of batons I have placed Philip II of Spain’s portrait.


five of cups, maid of coins, three of batons, and anachronistic joker for dragon cards

Variants of this pack are likely to occur, and the first batch is a limited run celebrating 50 years of the SCA. These feature colors from an Antwerp fragment.


SCA 50 Year limited batch of dragon cards

more about dragon cards here



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