Page 1 of 11
Much has been written about the late Raja Ravi Varma (1848 - 1906), the great painter from Trivandrum and his immortal paintings. Special exhibitions of Ravi Varma's paintings have been held at Trivandrum and at New Delhi, and slide illustrated talks have been given in Mumbai and other cities. The articles and talks go into great detail about his paintings, calendar art and the printing press he started in Bombay in 1894. The articles discuss in detail the reproductions of Indian puranic and religous themes. They fail to even mention the beautiful and colourful playing cards that were printed at the press after it was moved to Lonavla.
The exact number of different decks produced by the Raja Ravi Varma Press is not known, but two of them are described here.
Page 2 of 11
The first is a Historical pack with Moghul rulers, their Begums and armed guards.
|Â Diamonds||Tamerlane (1336 - 1405)||Noor-Jehan Begum|
|Â Spades||Akhbar Shah (1542 - 1605)||Motee Begum|
|Â Hearts||Shah Jehan (1582 - 1666)||Taj Mahal Begum|
|Â Clubs||Aurangzebe (1618 - 1707)||Zenat Mahal Begum|
This deck, like the others was published by the Raja Ravi Varma Press after his death in 1906. The captions on the court cards are in English, and the printing was likely done by nine or ten colour chromolithography.
The Ace of Spades displays the trade mark "RRV" and the words "TRADE MARK RAVI VARMA PRESS KARLI BOMBAY".
Page 3 of 11
Page 4 of 11
Page 5 of 11
Page 6 of 11
Page 7 of 11
The second pack has Indian mythological figures for the court cards.
|Â Diamonds||Nala Raja||Damayanti Rani||Raj Hans|
|Â Spades||Shri Ramachandra||Shri Sitadevi||Shri Hanuman|
|Â Hearts||Harishchandra Raja||Taramati Rani||Sage Vishwamitra|
|Â Clubs||Dushyant Raja||Shakuntala Rani||Sutradhar|
The court card captions on this deck are written in Hindi. The Ace of Spades shows the trade mark "RRV" and the words "TRADE MARK RAVI VARMA PRESS KARLA-LONAVLA".
Page 8 of 11
Page 9 of 11
Page 10 of 11
Page 11 of 11