Here we are at day 10 of the A-Z Blogging Challenge, and we are at letter “J” and J is for Joker.
Modern packs of playing cards are made up of 52 standard “suit” cards and 2 jokers. Whilst playing cards have been around for centuries the joker is a relatively modern addition.
Cards for playing games have been made since the early Tang dynasty in China in the 9th century and jokers made their appearance in the 1860s to enhance a game called “euchre”. Their purpose was to be the highest trump card and there were two available, one red and one black.
Since their inclusion they became incorporated into many more card games as wildcards, or to replace cards that had gone missing from the original deck (a frequent occurrence in my family when I played cards with my brothers as a kid!). My favourite game with my brothers was “Old Maid”, in which the joker was the card to be avoided at all costs.
Jokers are often depicted as being some sort of harlequin, or jester, in Elizabethan court costume but different brands of cards have their own variations and often include trademarks in their designs. The Australian “Queen’s Slipper” brand uses a Kookaburra on their joker cards, probably because its call is very similar to the human laugh.
It is thought that the design of the joker stems from the tarot cards which originated in the 15th century. The black and the red jokers corresponded to the Fool and the Magician respectively, representing two different aspects of human nature.