Playing Cards: One of the Earliest Forms of Block Printing

1007 to 1072
<p>Playing cards existed in China before 1000 AD. Such cards would have been narrow  slips of paper, essentially dominoes with dots imitating the twenty-one  combinations possible with the throw of two dice. Paper was in fact the original  material for dominoes; wood and ivory came later.</p>

Playing cards existed in China before 1000 AD. Such cards would have been narrow slips of paper, essentially dominoes with dots imitating the twenty-one combinations possible with the throw of two dice. Paper was in fact the original material for dominoes; wood and ivory came later.

"There is little doubt that both playing cards and dominoes originated in China and that both games were influenced by certain forms of divination and the drawing of lots and possibly by paper money. There are certain indications that the development of playing cards took place at about the same time as the transition from manuscript rolls to paged books. As the advent of printing made it more convenient to produce and use books in the form of pages, so was it easier to produce cards. These 'sheet-dice,' as they were called, began to appear according to Ou-yang Hsiu (1007-72) before the end of the Tang dynasty, and if this is true, they were one of the earliest forms of block printing in China, as they were in the West" (Carter, Invention of Printing in China 2nd ed [1955] 184).

Timeline Themes