Bicycle Reverie Playing Cards

Reverie Playing Cards is inspired by Chinese opera, Kunqu (崑曲) which is a form of Chinese Opera. This project uses one of the songs in the popular play, Peony Pavilion (牡丹亭). The song used is 游园惊梦 which Barry calls it by Reverie.

Before proceeding to the playing cards proper, perhaps a quick introduction of Kunqu might be beneficial. Kunqu is one of the various forms of Chinese Theatre. Throughout China’s long history and vast land mass which consists of different dialects and local cultures, theatre exists in different forms and in different dialects as well which some times can be similar with subtle differences.

Kun refers to Kunshan and qu means music. The name derives from the fact that one of the principal types of regional music that went into the making of Kunqu came from the district of Kunshan near Suzhou, in modern Jiangsu Province. This type of regional music goes back to the 14th century.

The most popular Kunqu song is Peony Pavilion (牡丹亭) . It is a romantic tragicomedy play written by dramatist Tang Xianzu in 1598. It depictes a love story between Du Liniang and Liu Mengmei, overcomes all difficulties, transcending time and space, life and death, and finally get together.

Back to the cards, we do not have images of individual royal court cards. We will show you what is available on the project page. The project itself has two editions, the standard edition and the marked edition. Both editions will have the Bicycle logo on the tuck box and United States Playing Card Company (USPCC) will be printing the cards.

Standard Edition

The tuck box shows the Forbidden City and a lone silhouette standing in front of the palace. The card back is a beautiful design of an opened paper fan with motifs of peonies which is a nod to Peony Pavilion.

Marked edition

The portraits on the royal court cards are the same in the marked edition except for the borders. Another difference is the card back design, it does not have the beautiful paper fan illustration but instead it has a unique marking system.

I never appreciated the appeal of a marked deck except for the purpose to cheat in card games or to perform magic tricks. However, that should not stop you from pledging for this project. Although there isn’t much difference in both editions but the marked deck is unique for its subtle marking system.


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