For my analysis, I chose to explore playing cards. I considered investigating playing cards in other cultures, cards in person versus online, using cards to gamble versus using them for fun, the cultural connotation of playing cards, or even a comparison of different types of card games. I was most interested in pursuing further research on symbols used for card suits in different countries.
Chinese playing card designs: three of “strings of coins,” three of “coins,” symbol for “myriad of coins,” and symbol for “tens of myriads.”
Spanish playing cards: coins remain coins, myriad become cups, strings become clubs, and tens become swords. Potential values: wealth, treasure, conquest, combat.
Swiss playing cards: coins become roses, cups become bells, clubs become acorns, swords become shields. Potential values: peace, art, music, nature, defense, non-aggression.
German playing cards: roses become hearts, bells remain bells, acorns remain acorns, shields become leaves. Potential values: love, music, nature, peace.
French playing cards: hearts remain hearts, bells become tiles, acorns become clovers, leaves become pikes. Potential values: art, design, mass production, equality.
(American playing cards use French symbols while editing the names to be hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades. The names “clubs” and “spades” relate back to the Spanish/Italian suits. Potential value(s): cultural melting pot.)
My hypothesis for this proposed research was, “There is an observable correlation between the cultural values of a country and the symbols used in their playing card suits.”
My proposed testing method goes as follows:
- Conduct an in-depth analysis of relevant art and literature from the same country and the same time period as the selected playing card set.
- Make note of the frequency and context in which symbols from the cards appear in other forms.
- Read relevant studies published about the cultural values from that country and time.
- Observe whether or not the symbols are used to by the culture to represent their values.
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