• Spil_Astu_Sig_Joker

Folktale Playing Cards

Ásta Sigurðardóttir 1960–1963

For some reason the playing cards that author Ásta Sigurðardóttir drew up from Icelandic folk stories were never materialized and so we only have her original sketches. The drawings are done in strong pastel colours. Around the mid section of each card is a rather large diagonal border splitting the card into two sections, one black and one white. Between the two sections is a circular frame that depicts a specific magical symbol for each suit. The hearts have the helm of awe, the spades have the hammer of Thor, the diamonds have ginfaxi and the clubs have kaupaloki. The two sections might be intended to symbolize white and black magic. The black section definitely looks more sinister. In her stories and linocuts Ásta would often use opposites in a setting of horrific atmosphere. The same applies to the playing cards. They depict life and death, god and the devil, good and evil and the meaning of one is formed by the understanding of the other. They have the mysterious air of the sorcerer and sorceress and other peculiarities:


Ace of spades: Þorgeirsboli bull

King of spades: Sæmundur the Learned − Gottskálk the Cruel

Queen of spades: Höfðabrekku-Jóka − Straumfjarðar Halla

Jack of spades: Magic Loftur − Mensalder the Rich

Ace of diamonds: Sea mouse

King of diamonds: Magic-Leifi − Jón the Learned

Queen of diamonds: Magic-Þura − Bjarna-Dísa

Jack of diamonds: Boot-Brokkur − Sandvíkur-Glæsir

Ace of hearts: Pseudorchis

King of hearts: Rev. Snorri á Húsafelli − Rev. Eiríkur í Vogsósum

Queen of hearts: Magic-Manga − Miklabæjar-Sólveig

Jack of hearts: Erik the Good − Deacon of Myrká

Ace of clubs: Four-leaf clover

King of clubs: Þormóður in Gvendareyjum − Magic-Þorgeir

Queen of clubs: Magic-Imba − Möðrudals-Manga

Jack of clubs: Latin-Bjarni − High-Bjarni

Joker: Húsavíkur-Jón


Lbs 300 NF

National and University Library of Iceland