Thursday, March 25, 2021

Dragon Jokers: They can fly!

Let's start with a few obvious dragons and serpent jokers (updated Nov 2023). Note that this first one dragon-serpent creature appears to have four claws. The wings are not obvious.

This next dragon has no legs and has been chained, by whom and why? Will the chains hold? Why don't these serpent dragons have back legs or claws?

The tiger and dragon seem to be strange "fellow-travelers".  Is there a story or myth that this references? The dragons claws seem to appear at strange angles and again, I can't seem to make out the wings. Is it Asian?
Another serpent dragon which includes claws but without clear wings. The "Mhing" problem clearly makes it Asian, probably Chinese

A classic dragon with four legs and wings. Does that make it an insect?
Another classic dragon. Is this a Game of Thrones deck created for the prequel: "The Age of Dragons"?
Back to Asian dragons, this one has a serpentine shape, claws, and no clear wings. 

However, I also have some dragon jokers where the artwork is highly stylized and integrated into a design. This is so subtly done that at first, I saw only the abstract geometric design and totally overlooked the dragon. So I keep them in the design section. Here's an article about these stylized dragon images and another article about  the geometric design jokers.

 In the stylized dragon article, I raise the question as to whether the very first joker of all time might have been a dragon joker from the New York Consolidated Card Company.

Anyone able to help me identify this beautiful old dragon joker which I recently added to my collection?

For years, I've had a "flyers" section as part my animal jokers. But, the dragon jokers increased in number so that the dragons now have their own subsection.  There are 33 jokers of dragons and serpents (as of 2021)!

And before we get to the complete inventory of flying dragons and serpent jokers, let me explain there is a difference between dragons (they have six limbs: four legs and two wings) and wyverns or drakes which have only two hand legs plus wings. In some of these, the design is technically more of a flying serpent but I group them here. And I consider the mythical horses - centaurs, unicorns, and flying horses - to be a different genus. So onto the full set of dragons. And as I said, to serpents and snakes which feel to me to be related to dragons.

The middle joker, in the nine below, is from The De La Rue Iranian cards. My source is the Clear the Decks, June 2021, an article by Alex Clays. He describes his Iranian deck c 1937 commissioned by the Royal Iranian Government Ministry of Finance. He also mentioned a 1962 deck by Fournier, a Spanish playing card manufacturer, who reprinted the "Historic Iranian Designs".

There are three pairs of jokers designed as dyptechs in the page below. Two (the bright colored ones) are by Denexa which I think is a great company and I discuss further below. The origin of the monocolor dyptech is a bit of a mystery to me. Google searches for "Aratagar" don't reveal much. The quote - "shall be no more" pulls up lots of Bibical references.  But the dragons and critters are very anime-ish.  Help?

In the two tops corners, the serpentine dragons are clearly Chinese decks.  I think the entire two rows are probably Asian. There are two in the bottom row that are very anime, perhaps from the Pokeman world?

Scott of Denexa Games not only makes great cards but he's treated me nice. I bought a deck from him and mentioned my interest in jokers and he took good care of me (sent me extras). Thanks Scott. Here are two sets of Denexa’s triptych jokers. 

While we are looking at these Denexa jokers, let me point out like the old Kem cards, they are made out of plastic. So while not indestructible, they will survive endless use and spills. But they are susceptible to violence and fire. I think they're great. Plus they come from a small company in Norman Oklahoma. It's run by a family: Scott is the president and is married to Renee, who is the VP and has her own last name and who has ten years of casino gaming experience. 

Their website explains that Denexa means “playing cards” in the Draconic language. And I quote: If you ever have to play a card game with a dragon, make sure to bring your Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards, because their sharp talons tend to shred paper cards to bits!.

The flyer animal joker section now consists of:
- The Birds and the Bees Jokers  
- Dragons  - This article
Here's an article about these stylized dragon images and another with all the geometric design jokers.

On a slightly related note, here's the dragons on the wall in my office. One is a Chinese print bought in China in the 1980s by a friend. The other is a kindergarten art project by my first born, my favorite young lady in the entire world. 

1 comment:

Thanks for your input and for reading and thinking about jokers.