Sunday, March 4, 2018

Mystical and Devilish Jokers

 I have nearly 30 jokers that I classify as mystical or devilish. They give me the heebie jeebies.  I try to treat them with respect and to not offend them since I fear their evil characters and powers. The first three are particularly powerful.

Speaking of thrillingly lovely terrifying jokers ...  Sweet Dreams!



The joker below is derivative of a famous enigmatic painting by Jan Matejko in 1862. A copy of the painting is shown below. In the painting there is a distraught brooding court jester who contrasts dramatically with his character and the court ball visible in the background.


The painting is about a specific court jester and moment in history. Stańczyk is the jester and the year is 1533 (OK, there's some debate if the jester is mythical or historical and the date seems to be also up for discussion).  On the table lies a letter likely announcing that Poland has lost Smolensk (now in Russia) to the Grand Duchy of Muscovy, causing Stańczyk's sorrow and reflection on his fatherland's fate. The letter seems to have been discarded by some official, and only the jester realizes its significance – while the rulers are partying...(Source: Wikipedia)
A Brooding Court Jester by Jan Matejko
A Brooding Court Jester by Jan Matejko
And thanks to  Ronald Kruijmel of the FB Joker Collectors Club for cluing me in to the origins of this joker.


The next joker is one of the most beautiful and artistically significant jokers in the collection. It is of a dybbuk and designed by the great artist of 1930s-50s, Arthur Szyk. It pictures a dybbuk which in Jewish or Kabalistic mythology is a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person.

Arthur Szyk was a famous artist in mid 20th Century who escaped the Holocaust by moving to America.I have an entire article about Arthur Szyk and his card designs on this site.

This next one  is also involved with Jewish mysticism. This deck is: Jacob’s Bible cards printed by Piatnik for Israel company (Thanks to Ali Jerremalm in a Facebook discussion about these demon and devil jokers for helping me track it down). 

The WOPC.co.uk site says: "Jacob’s Bible Cards designed by Ze'ev Raban (1890-1970) in which the court cards and jokers represent personages from the Bible (old testament or history of the Jewish race). The numeral cards are not decorated. Ashmodai was made into the Joker, with the Hebrew inscription letz ( לֵץ ) which means jester."

Jacobs Bible Cards Joker
Jacobs Bible Cards Joker

And here is a picture of the back of the Jacobs Bible Cards.







Here is the back of the demon with wings joker.





This next joker is I think a play on the poker concept of a Dead Man's Hand. In poker, the term dead man's hand goes back into the mid 1800s. The term has also been linked to the poker card held by Wild Bill Hitchcock when he was shot in 1876. Reportedly, he had the ace of spades, the ace of clubs, two black eights, and the queen of clubs. Generally the term "dead mans hand is used for a two-pair poker consisting of the black aces and black eights.
Dead Man's Hand
Dead Man's Hand










3 comments:

  1. Per Ali Jerremalm in a Facebook discussion of these demon and devil cards, this joker is from: "Jacob’s Bible cards printed by Piatnik for Israel company (”Made in Israel”;-))"

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  2. From WOPC.co.uk:Jacob’s Bible Cards designed by Ze'ev Raban (1890-1970) in which the court cards and jokers represent personages from the Bible (old testament or history of the Jewish race). The numeral cards are not decorated. Ashmodai was made into the Joker, with the Hebrew inscription letz ( לֵץ ) which means jester.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Heh,In addition to Ebay and Etsy, I just found Ruby Lane (uh oh):
    https://www.rubylane.com/shop/twoforhisheels/ilist/?q=joker+playing+cards

    ReplyDelete