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Four Handed Ganjifa.

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For this Moghul Ganjifa game of 96 cards in 8 suits of 8 colours played in some parts of Orissa, the following rules should be noted. Usually, Moghul Ganjifa of 96 cards and Dashavatara Ganjifa of 120 cards are played by three persons only, mainly in Sawantwadi in Maharashta. In Bishnupur, West Bengal, the Dashavatara Ganjifa game is played by five persons. In Nirmal, Andhra Pradesh, although Moghul Ganjifa and Dashavatara Ganjifa are still being made occasionally, no specific rules are supplied with the games or are known to the Ganjifa artists. These rules were narrated to me by a grandson of a Ganjifa artist from Orissa some time around the mid 1980's.

Orissa Ath-Rangi Moghul Ganjifa cards



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Rules of Moghul Ganjifa

There must be four players, not fewer, all playing on their own (individually) for this game. A central place should be arranged with a bedsheet or some kind of white cloth on the ground to make a playing dais so that the smoothness of the cards is not affected. An older set or a little used set of 96 cards should be used for playing the game.

One person should mix or shuffle the 96 cards. All the 96 cards should then be kept in a pile face down, in the centre of the dais.

Each player should pick one card from the top of the pile. The player with the highest valued card should start the game.

The following chart shows the values of each of the 96 Ganjifa cards:

Name of suit     Colour Ranking, Highest to Lowest    
Barat Red King, Vazier, 1 through 10
Surya Blue King, Vazier, 1 through 10
Kumancha Yellow King, Vazier, 1 through 10
Cheng Green King, Vazier, 1 through 10
Phul Yellow Ochre      King, Vazier, 10 through 1
Ghulam White King, Vazier, 10 through 1
Shamsher Brown King, Vazier, 10 through 1
Chandra Black King, Vazier, 10 through 1


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The player getting the highest valued card, as per the above chart, will start dealing the cards, four at a time, to each player from his right side (in an anti-clockwise direction) till all players get 24 cards each.

Between Sunrise (morning) and Sunset (evening) is known as the daytime. If the game is played during the daytime, the player with the King (Raja) of the Surya (Surkh) (Blue) suit shall start the game. He should play this Surya Raja along with one other card of no use or low value card from the Surya suit, and if not, one such card from any other suit. The other three players follow suit and each should play any two low value cards from their hands. The winner (player who started the game with the Surya Raja) takes all the eight cards laid on the dais as his first hand.

Between the Sunset and Sunrise, that is, when the game is played during the night time, the one who has the King of Chandra (Safed) (Black) suit will lead the game and the same procedure as in #6 should be followed.

The next round of play should be started by the same player. Suppose this player has a Vazier/Pradhan of any suit or colour (and no Raja of that particular suit), to bring the value up of the same, he should play one low valued card of the same suit as that of his Vazier. Now the player having the Raja (or King) of the played suit should play the Raja of that colour. The remaining two players should play any low valued cards. This hand of four cards will go to the player playing the Raja card. Again, the winner of this trick will play in the similar way, so that the value of the suit of the Vazier he would play would be brought up. This will continue and the TAS, (cards) will go to each and every player until one player will lose all the high valued cards (as per the above chart).


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The loser will now have to keep all the cards remaining in his hand face down on the playing dais.

The person sitting opposite the loser will now ask the loser to give him one card from those laid face down, but not the top or the bottom card. The loser plays the card thus selected by the opposite person.

Again the play will continue in the usual way as played, but the loser cannot take the TAS or win any round because he has no valuable cards with him. He will play the game simply like that along with the others.

After this, all high valued cards such as Raja-Vazier will bill be no more with any player. So the players will try to make the value up of other cards (like 10, 9, 8 in Phul (Taj), Ghulam, Shamsher and Chandra and 1, 2, 3, ... in Barat, Kimancha, Surya and Cheng) by playing the low valued cards of the same colour/suit. In this way, play will continue till all the cards get over.

Finally, the person who has more sets or hands of cards (one hand is 4 cards) will take the stake or money as decided in the beginning of play. For example, the loser may pay Rs. 5 per one set. Less than six sets is the loser, more than six sets is the winner.


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Note: The suit names and colours are those belonging to the Orissa Moghul Ganjifa or Ath-Rangi Sara. The names slightly differ from the Sawantwadi or Nirmal Ganjifa, but the games can be played equally with Changakanchan (Sawantwadi) and Changarani (Nirmal) Moghul Ganjifa sets.

Moghul Ganjifa cards

Three cards from the Ghulam suit
Sawantwadi Moghul Ganjifa cards


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Sawantwadi Moghul Ganjifa cards

Rajasthan Moghul Ganjifa cards

A similar article by Mr. Gordhandas was published in September, 2002, in Vol. 31 No. 2 of "The Playing-Card", Journal of the International Playing-Card Society.