Russian playing cards inspired by ancient Mayan art


Apparently, one of the few playing card sets available in Soviet Russia was themed to ancient Mayan iconography. I love the designs, some of which, like this King of Hearts, I can recognize as taking inspiration from real, specific Mayan artworks. For instance, the "King" here, ironically, looks an awful lot like a detail from Yaxchilan Lintel 24, which actually depicts a womanLady Xoc, one of the most powerful female figures in Mayan history.

And that rope she's holding in the card image? In the Lintel version you can see that:

A) the rope is studded with little blades and
B) that Lady Xoc is pulling it through a hole in her tongue.

In fact, the entire Lintel depicts a religious ritual. Lady Xoc's royal blood is collected and burned as an offering. Her husband, King Shield Jaguar the Great, stands over her, holding a torch. Cool stuff.

Pictures of Yaxchilan Lintel 24, now at the British Museum, after the cut.


Lady Xoc detail of Yaxchilan Lintel 24. Photographed by Flickr user Bill Hails, used via CC


The full view of Lintel 24, from the British Museum.


For scale: Lintel 24 with Maggie. This is actually one of my favorite Mayan carvings. I got to see it in person in 2007. Woot!