Hakka paai (Card Game)

About this object

History of use

Cards of this type were used for card games enjoyed by elderly people sitting outdoors in Hong Kong. At the time of collection (1980), groups of elderly Hakka women could be seen seated outdoors wherever there was available space, enjoying this leisure-time activity, which normally included small-scale gambling. They might gather anywhere—under a bridge or flyover, for example, sitting on makeshift seating. The game did not require literacy, as few elderly Hakka women at that time had the opportunity for any education. Older men gathered in parks or wherever there was space, playing Chinese chess, called “elephant chess”. Their games attracted large groups of other men, who commented regularly on the game, making suggestions. Both men and women played mahjong, which also involved gambling, but this was done indoors, in shops created for the purpose or in people’s homes if they had enough space. Younger people almost inevitably had to work hard to support their families in this difficult economic time, with very little time off, so they could not engage in social activities like this.


From a shop or market stall in Tsuen Wan.

Cultural context

Toys and games

Physical description

Card game consisting of a box of 84 elongated rectangular cards, each with black marks and images on the face and black on the reverse. The box, printed in red and green, has images depicting two elephants as well as text in English and Chinese.