Ganjfeh or Ganjafa is a kind of card game that is a treasure of understanding, and because of its multiplicity in use in the word, it has been called Ganjfeh. This game increases intellect and understanding.
Apparently, “Ganjafa” was not a typical game before the Safavid era. Mirza Sadegh, the author of Shahed Sadegh, who dedicated chapter 64 of his book to Ganjafa, writes as follows: This game is one of the inventors of Mirghiasuddin Mansour Shirazi, who lived during the Safavid era and was a brilliant and genius person.
Ahli Shirazi also has a booklet called Ganjfeh which contains 96 bits, and if we want to write each bite on white paper, it is a sheet of Ganjfeh. This person died in the year 942 AH, and if Ahli composed these couplets 30 years before his death, this game still does not date back to before the Safavid era.
Therefore, according to the surviving documents, this game was popular in the Safavid period.
During the Safavid period, especially during the reign of Shah Abbas I, it was familiar, but during the reign of Shah Abbas II, this game was like a forbidden game due to changes in society.
The playing cards consist of 8 groups of 12 pieces, which are in a set of 96 sheets, and each category has its name: slave, crown, sword, Ashrafi or red-gold, harp, Barat, coin (gold-white), and cloth. This game was the game of eight important government guilds and each of the 12 cards was as follows: one card in the name of the king and one card in the minister and the remaining 10 cards numbered 1 to 10. Most likely similar to today’s sentence game. The dimensions of these cards are small and about 3 by 4 cm. The weight is about 3 grams and is in the shape of oval and rectangular, which was used in the beginning only in the court.
They are made of ivory and precious stones so in the book Joharnameh (Goharnameh) written by Mohammad Ibn Mansour, it is stated as follows: In the regions of Neyshabur, a turquoise-like jewel was extracted which was shaved for nard, chess and Ganjafa, But over time, as it spread to the general public, materials such as wood, palm leaves or paper were used to make these cards.
The reason for the gloss of these cards is the use of a material called lacquer. Lacquer is a brown or red substance obtained from plant and animal sources. Lacquer is a good background for decorating the structures of delicate and precise artistic examples and has a protective and covering aspect.
Beautiful examples of these cards are available in the Reza Abbasi Museum. These cards are rectangular, and the images on them are King, Queen, Lion, Dancer, Soldier, etc. These cards are decorated with lacquer art. Lacquer is a hard and potentially shiny coating or finish applied to materials such as wood or metal. The term originates from the Sanskrit word lākshā.
In Iran, lacquer works first became famous under the name of paper-mâché and have a long story in Iran. This art was used a lot during the Timurid, Safavid, and Zand periods.
The peak of the development of this art belongs to the Qajar period. In principle, varnish or the same oil was used to protect wooden and paper works and polish them.