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Pole Screen in Ganjim

Ganjifa or Ganjim is a traditional Indian card game that has been played for centuries. The game involves using a set of circular cards, called Ganjifa cards, which were traditionally made of ivory or tortoiseshell and adorned with intricate paintings. These cards were used not just for playing but also for display as a form of art. One important element of displaying Ganjifa cards was the use of a Pole Screen, a decorative stand that held the cards for all to see. In this blog, we will explore the history and significance of the Pole Screen in Ganjim.

The Pole Screen is a tall, narrow stand with a flat, circular top. The stand is made of wood, often painted in bright colors or adorned with intricate carvings. The top of the stand is typically made of metal or wood and has a groove around the edge to hold the circular Ganjifa cards. The Pole Screen was traditionally used to display the cards during gameplay or as a decorative piece in the home.

The use of Pole Screens in Ganjim dates back to the 16th century, during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Akbar was a patron of the arts and encouraged the creation of elaborate Ganjifa cards, which were decorated with beautiful paintings of animals, plants, and mythological figures. The Pole Screen was developed as a way to showcase these intricate cards and elevate them to the status of art objects.

The use of Pole Screens in Ganjim spread throughout India and became a popular form of decorative art. The screens were often made by skilled craftsmen who incorporated traditional techniques and designs into their work. Some screens were decorated with intricate inlay work or covered in elaborate paintings.


The Pole Screen was not just a decorative item but also served a practical purpose during gameplay. The cards were placed in the groove on the top of the screen, making them visible to all players. This allowed players to easily see the cards and make their moves without having to handle them directly.

Today, Pole Screens are still used in Ganjim and are highly valued by collectors and enthusiasts. While the traditional materials of ivory and tortoise shell are no longer used, modern versions of the cards and screens are made using materials such as wood, paper, and plastic. Despite these changes, the artistry and craftsmanship of the Pole Screen continue to be highly prized.

In conclusion, the Pole Screen is an integral part of the Ganjim tradition and serves as both a decorative object and a practical tool during gameplay. Its history and significance make it a fascinating piece of Indian art and culture, and its continued use and evolution demonstrate the enduring appeal of this ancient game.

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