As the probable country of origin of playing cards, China has a long history of card-playing and many different varieties.

The pan-Chinese word for playing cards, (Standard Chinese: pái), does not distinguish between different forms of card-like games and equally applies to paper or cardboard cards, bamboo sticks, or bone, ivory, or plastic Mahjong tiles. In many adjacent countries the term has been adopted to into the local language:

  • Burmese: ဖဲ (hpai)
  • Khmer: បៀ (bie)
  • Thai: ไพ่ (pâi)

They can be broken down in several broad categories:

  • those derived from Xiangqi (Chinese chess):
    • Four-Colour Cards
    • Two-Suited chess cards, including:
      • Chrysanthemum cards (Vietnam)
  • those derived from dice (dominoes):
    • 15 Point Cards
  • those derived from paper money:
    • Four-Suited money cards
    • Three-Suited money cards, also including:
  • those that are numbered:
    • 3–5–7 cards
    • Big Two cards
  • those named with Chinese characters:
    • Zhi Pai

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