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Made by: S. D. Levashev

Currently in storage

About this object

The standard set of playing cards is held in a cardboard box decorated with a design centering on the grinning face of a shaman's mask, a Star of David. Small Christian crosses are set in the four corners. This design is rendered in blue, green, black, and white. This same design appears on the backs of each playing card, all of which have gilt edges. The fronts of the cards are decorated with color lithographs of caricatures resembling those published in Bezbozhnik (The Atheist), Bebozhnik u stanka (The Atheist in the Factory) and other Soviet magazines devoted to anti-religious propaganda. The satirical images are aimed at the four major religions practiced by the population of the U.S.S.R.: Orthodoxy, Judaism, Catholicism, and Shamanism/Buddhism. (The final category becomes visually confused, suggesting that the artist was not well acquainted with religious practices in the Soviet Far East.) Images on the face cards of the Hearts cards are aimed at Catholicism. Those on the face cards of the Clubs satirize Orthodoxy. The Diamonds face cards take aim at Judaism and the spades at Shamanism and/or Lamaism. There are two Joker cards, although one is red and green and appears to be from another set. Both Joker cards are decorated with a sepia image depicting a caricature of a top-hatted capitalist with angel's wings seen in the clouds. He holds four strings from which he controls a Catholic priest, an Orthodox priest, a rabbi, and a shaman. All of the latter figures genuflect to the larger than life figure in the sky. The phrase "Anti-Religions" is printed on the shorter sides of the box. On the back and front are the words "N-701" (the product number) and "Extra Fine." The phrase "Joker Cards" is printed on the bottom and top. The fifty-four cards inside are not wrapped. (For a full description of the images on all face cards, see the paper file in Curatorial Records.)

Object name:
Made from:
Chromolithography on coated paper -- cardboard -- gilding
Made in:
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Date made:
1.9 x 5.9 x 9.2 cm (3/4 x 2 5/16 x 3 5/8 in.)

Detailed information for this item

Catalog number:
Signature marks:
INSCRIPTION Anti-religions Printed on short sides of box. inscription N-701 Extra Fine Printed on the front and back of the box. N-701, Number 701, is probably the product number. 55.53.2 is Number 702 and is the same design with a different color scheme. inscription Joker Cards Printed on the top and bottom of box. inscription Made in Russia /USSR/ Printed on the flap that seals the box.
Credit line:
Bequest of Marjorie Merriweather Post, 1973