Card Experiment is a young company based in Hong Kong (but they ship all purchases from their distributor in US). Their aim is to provide people with different playing cards by collaborating with independent artists from around the world. Bicycle Asura playing cards is their first series of playing cards. Bicycle Asura Red deck was produced in 2012 and Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck was produced in 2013. Both decks were printed by USPCC. This article is dedicated to both Bicycle Asura decks.
Decks were designed due to collective efforts of the Card Experimet’s team. They both are dedicated to deities named Asuras.
Asuras as deities can be met in various mythologies and religions. And they can have quite different meaning in particular mythology or religion. Even the same religion could endow Asuras with different traits depending on ages. Asuras held an important place in Hinduism and Buddhism.
Bicycle Asura Red Deck: 52 playing cards + 2 quite different Jokers + 1 ad card + 1 double back card.
Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue Deck: 52 playing cards + 2 almost the same Jokers + 1 double back card + 1 double back card with inverted colours on one of its sides.
There were printed 2.500 decks of each colour on Aristocrat stock with Magic Finish. Poker size.
In case of Bicycle Asura Red deck metallic inks were used only for playing cards. In case of Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck Card Experiment decided to use them for tuck cases as well.
Asuras in Hinduism are non-suras – a different group of power-seeking deities besides the suras (Devas). In accordance with early Vedic texts both Asuras and Devas were deities who constantly competed with each other. But Asuras were originally just, good and virtuous.
The Vishnu Purana (one of the most important Puranas – religious Hindu texts) explains that the Daityas (one of Asurasclans) came to be known as asuras because they rejected Varuni (the goddess of sura or wine) during the churning of the ocean (one of the most famous periods in religious Hindu texts). Devas accepted her and came to be known as suras. So the asuras became anti-gods. They were depicted to have become proud and vain, to have stopped performing sacrifices, to violate sacred laws, not visit holy places and not cleanse themselves from sin, to be envious of Devas, torturous of living beings, creating confusion in everything and to challenge Devas.
Asuras also appear as a type of supernatural being in traditional Buddhist cosmology. The Buddhist asuras are derived from the wicked asuras of Hinduism. They are the lowest ranks of the deities or demigods of the Kāmadhātu or the Desire Realm. The Desire Realm is one of three worlds into which a being wandering in samsāra (“cyclic existence”) may be reborn.
The state of an Asura reflects the mental state of a human being obsessed with force and violence, always looking for an excuse to get into a fight, angry with everyone and unable to maintain calm or solve problems peacefully. Beings may go to the Asura realm because in human form they had good intentions, but committed bad actions such as harming others.
Asuras are described as having three heads with three faces and four to six arms. As you can see on tuck cases both asuras (red and metallic blue) got six arms. Each additional pair of hands won’t be superfluous for battles.
Seals are not custom on both tuck cases but Card Experiment ordered them in appropriate colours (red and metallic blue) which fit colours of tuck cases. Also both tuck cases have slightly different flaps.
One head of an asura with three faces is depicted on each Joker.
Bicycle Asura Red deck has one Joker with the big head executed in black ink and its legend made with gold metallic ink. The second Joker from Bicycle Asura Red deck has the same head of a smaller size framed in a circle with three symbolic flames. I assume that these flames can symbolize three worlds of the Desire Realm. The head of the second Joker and its legend were executed in black ink. The circle with flames was made with gold metallic ink.
Bicycle Asura Red Playing Cards: Jokers
Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck has two Jokers with the head of the same size framed in a circle with three symbolic flames. The heads and legends on both Jokers were made with blue metallic ink. The circle with three flames was executed in silver metallic ink on the first Joker and in black ink on the second one.
Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue Playing Cards: Jokers
So Card Experiment nominally made four different Jokers.
Jokers: Asura Red Deck – Asura Metallic Blue Deck – Asura Red Deck – Asura Metallic Blue Deck
There is also an asura on the Ace of Spades. The pictures of both Aces of Spades are almost the same. The Ace of Spades from Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck has some patterns made with silver metallic ink.
Bicycle Asura Red Playing Cards: the Ace of Spades
Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue Playing Cards: the Ace of Spades
The Ace of Spades: Asura Red Deck – Asura Metallic Blue Deck
Other aces are standard in Bicycle Asura Red deck and slightly customized in Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue one. Pips were framed in the circle with three flames on the aces from Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck.
Bicycle Asura Red Playing Cards: Aces
Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue Playing Cards: Aces
Court cards in both decks are recoloured Bicycle standard court cards. Bicycle Asura Red deck used red metallic ink. Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck used blue and silver metallic inks.
The King of Spades: Asura Red Deck – Bicycle Standard Deck – Asura Metallic Blue Deck
The Queen of Hearts: Asura Red Deck – Bicycle Standard Deck – Asura Metallic Blue Deck
The King of Hearts: Asura Red Deck – Asura Metallic Blue Deck
The King of Spades
The King of Hearts
The King of Clubs
The King of Diamonds
The Queen of Spades
The Queen of Hearts
The Queen of Clubs
The Queen of Diamonds
The Jack of Spades
The Jack of Hearts
Pay your attention to details made with silver metallic ink on the Jack of Hearts (and some other court cards from Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck). You can see some mistakes of printing mentioned on this blog before. So this is an unpleasant diagnosis – USPCC can’t properly print those small details with metallic ink. And it is really strange taking into account backs from this blue deck made with blue and silver metallic inks. Bicycle Asura Red deck doesn’t use metallic ink for those design elements and doesn’t have the problems. Clickable
The Jack of Clubs
The Jack of Diamonds
Pips are smaller on Asura playing cards than they are on Bicycle standard playing cards. And Card Experiment used non-standard font for indices.
The Ten of Spades: Asura Red Deck – Bicycle Standard Deck – Asura Metallic Blue Deck
The Seven of Clubs: Asura Red Deck – Bicycle Standard Deck – Asura Metallic Blue Deck
Backs have a reach graphic design. Backs from Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck have blue and silver metallic inks.
Pictures on backs from Bicycle Asura Red deck are not ideally centered. Pictures on backs from Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck are perfectly centered. Also backs from Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue deck have smaller white frames around its pictures. Cardists should love it.
Bicycle Asura Red Deck: Ad Card + Double Back Card
Bicycle Asura Metallic Blue Deck: Double Back Card + Double Back Card
Other decks produced by Card Experiment:
See other playing cards printed by USPCC (Category: USPCC).