The husband-and-wife team hand-illustrated the graphics on each card using India’s traditional artwork, ancient artifacts, and vernacular architecture as touchstones. Suits and numbers are based on Indic-style fonts. Face cards feature historic figures from the Maurya, Gupta, Chola, and Mughal dynasties of India. The Jack of Spades shows Shah Jahan, emperor of India from 1628 to 1658. He has period-appropriate headwear and jewelry and his clothes are emblazoned with contemporaneous architectural motifs and tile patterns. He smokes from a hookah, a favorite pastime of the court.
The artfully rendered cards won’t guarantee a competitive edge in your next poker game, but learning is always a win. Back the Kings of India on Kickstarter for $12 to receive a deck, which will be manufactured by Bicycle, if the campaign gets funding.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Shah Jahan’s name.