Tarot News, March 2005
I lost my Fun with the monthly Tarot News this winter. Partly this was according to the condition, that it proved to be too much work to do it regularely, a second part carried negative, not cooperative reactions of moderators of Tarot-Newsgroups and Tarot Forums like Lotus Tarot, Comparative Tarot and tarot_traditions during last year, which showed an excellent understanding of their own rules, but not necessarily something of progress in Tarot-history and necessary communication structures. It filled me with some anger ... So thanks to them for their educative measurements and if you wish to know, what happened, ask them. But if you're interested in Tarot history, you better partake in groups like TarotL, the Aeclectic Forum or our own group LTarot, the observable developments might be a little more actual there.
But, anyhow, it's too much work for me to do the Tarot News regularely, so now we've established a cooperation of various "reporters" to be actual ... see the bottom of this page. The Tarot-News will produced unregularely now according to my personal free time and interests. What's new ?
The Structure of Tarot
|the persons to the left - a dice-structure
||the battlefield in the middle - a life-tree-structure
||the lights to the right - a dice-structure
|12 Hanged Man
From 14 to 22 - we assume, that the earliest Tarot decks had only 14 (occasionally 16) trumps or special cards. From this condition there must have been a date, when the Tarot got 22 socalled major arcana. One of the impulses, which possibly have created the structure with 56 pip cards, 21 trumps and the Fool card, might have been the Boiardo poem, which proposed rather unusual trumps and also unusual suits ( love (Arrows), jealousy (Eyes), fear (Whips), and hope (Vases)). There is a deck known, which was created after Boiardo's poem, but probably late, after Boiardo's death in the year 1494.
The suspected time, when the change from 14 to 22 occured, are the years 1465 - 1470. In this time printing industry made some serious developments and from the late 70ies we've signs of mass production in Bologna, indicating, that after this time a change should be rather unlikely. The single deck production in Ferrara, typical for the 50ies, stops in 1463. The word Minchiate, indicating creative processes around the early Trionfi decks, appears for the first time in 1466.
One of the persons, who could have caused the Tarot transformation "from 14 to 22", is the young Milanese duke Galeazzo Maria Sforza, and it is observable, that he perceives in the year 1466 with the death of his father a "strange personal accident", which involved the number 22. In 1468 he married Bona of Savoyen and it is likely from the customs of this time, that at this occasion a Trionfi deck was produced. However, it's unlikely, that it contained the Devil card, this would have been a strange imagination considering time and opportunity, much more likely it seems, that Galeazzo Maria used a card, which showed the heraldic device of the Visconti Viper. This decision probably originated later the socalled Ur-Tarot, early Tarot devils had usually a man in the mouth - like the Visconti-Viper. The viper or snake was also a symbol for Prudentia, the "missing cardinal virtue", probably Galeazzo Maria intended to present this virtue with the heraldic symbol (compare pictures to the left).
More to this and to Other Structures of Tarot and early Playing card decks (in development).
- The Research Project "Socalled Mantegna Tarocchi runs since 2 monthes and shows considerable progress ... but we've trouble to sort all the different materials, so the actual state is constantly "under construction".
The series of the motifs of the Mantegna Tarocchi started probably with a discussion about the iconography of the 9 Muses in the 40ies of the 15th century at the court of Ferrara. We try to collect earlier ideas and interpretations of the Mantegna Tarocchi. Of course the current collection is incomplete and in development. We think, that Arthur M. Hind established an error in his research in the year 1938. We counter "Hind's error" with an alternative explanation of the origin of the socalled Mantegna Tarocchi. We call our explanation the "Lazzarelli Hypothesis".
The Lazzarelli Hypothesis assumes, that Arthur M. Hind established in the year 1938 a farspread wrong conclusion, which was variably accepted as basis of research developments in later years. He assumed - according to various documents collected by him - that the socalled Mantegna Tarocchi was present in engraved form "around 1465" according to some evidence from the years 1467/68. However, Hind's evidence are only 6 pictures from 2 different sources, and in our opinion that's not enough to assume the existence of 50. The poet Lazzarelli, who produced some manuscripts with illuminations ca. 1471, used 23 of the Mantegna Tarocchi pictures, and we emphasize (and research) the possibility, that either Lazzarelli or somebody near to him caused or influenced the final redaction of the 50-motifs-set. The aspects are promising. Of course, these texts have only a provisionally state - our research is still running.
- The Oldest Tarot Book is Martiano da Tortona's manuscript to the Michelino deck.
Ross Gregory Caldwell has published a translation of the manuscript (dated about 1425) and the referencing letter of Jacopo Antonio Marcello from 1449. This was done by a considerable work of monthes, and it presents a really valuable progress in the research of Tarot History, and it was the announcement of this article, that the current moderator of the Tarot Newsgroup Comparative Tarot didn't allow to be announced, taking it at one level with "advertising activities". Yes, I know, they say, they love Tarot ...
- Andrea Vitali's articles to the iconography of Tarot are now better reachable at a NEW ADDRESS. Available are Fool, Hanged Man, Temperance, Tower, Star, Sun, Moon and World.
- A Great Story, however, still not really developed, exists about a group of persons around 1500 in early German renaissance - variously persons of this circle are involved in playing card activities: Sebastian Brant, Emperor Maximilian, his wife Bianca Maria Sforza, the Spanish marriage of Maximilian's children, Albrecht Dürer, Pirckheimer, Michael Wolgemut, Thomas Murner, Matthias Ringmann, Jacobus Faber Stapulensis. My own work (I call it in funny mood the "German Golden Dawn") and just in discussion at Aeclectic.
- Ross Gregory Caldwell discovered a till now in playing card research unobserved Alciato verse on the order of the tarocchi trumps
from 1543. See his article at LTarot (you've to be a member of the
group to see the page) or visit the website.
Later Correction: Sorry, I misinterpreted the email of Ross, he didn't claim it as a new discovery, but stated, that he didn't remember, where he've heard of it.
Thanks to Thierry Depaulis, who knew the earlier research: Alciato's passage was noted by Ludovico Zdekauer, in: "Sull' organizzazione pubblica
del giuoco in Italia
nel medio evo", Giornale degli Economisti, V, 1892, p. 40-80 (see pp. 77-78, or the reprint: L. Zdekauer, Il gioco d'azzardo nel Medioevo italiano,
Florence, 1993, fn. 2, pp.130-1). Franco Pratesi had unearthed Zdekauer's footnote and did publish an article about Alciato's passage in:
"Le tarot de Marseille: retour à Milan", L'As de Trèfle, Dec.1991-March 1992, no. 47-48, p. 10-12. Nonetheless the pasage of Alciato is of interest,
as it has some differences to those collected by Stuart Kaplan, Encyclopedia of Tarot II.
- The Sermones de Ludo cum aliis contain the oldest list of Trionfi with names for single trumps, indicating a row. In playing card history literature the data around the document were reported in various contradictions: The dating was given in different forms between 1450 - 1500, as writer was considered either a Dominican or a Franciscan monk. A personal letter to Ron Decker, between 1991 and 2001 the curator United States Playing Card Company, which owns the manuscript, reached some reliable informations.
- Recommended other Tarot News: Bonnie Cehovet: Gateway to Tarot and Jess Karlin: Tarot News
|New at trionfi.com: Radical improvements took place in the iconography section, which grows to become an integrated part of the Tarot Museum. Although the changes are not completely finished, some points found a (very) nice solution:
From here you can reach about 220 Tarot decks and each of the 78 Tarot-motifs individividually, sorted in specific groups. Fantastic page.
From here you can reach 3600 decks, researchable with keywords like "producers", "countries", "number of cards" etc.. and 70.000. Replaces the earlier Number-Katalog. Also: fantastic, although it needs further development and optimizing. We are working at the problems.
22 Trumps + articles: Actually these pages have some redundance with "ALL-78", but these pages also lead to various articles to each motif. Later we will merge the representations - we work on this problem.
- In the moment we're going to install a Forum at trionfi.com, reachable by the shortcut http://trionfi.com/0/m/. Although we in the moment only discuss, what shall happen with it, you're invited to visit us - perhaps you've suggestions and good ideas.
Composed by Huck Meyer
caricature of Galeazzo Maria Sforza,
signed by Cicco Simonetta
from "Storia di Milano"
Visconti Snake with man in mouth
used on a 15th century playing card
Devil with man in mouth
Hebreo Card, 16th century
Prudentia in the Mantegna Tarocchi
Snake or Dragon as attribute
at the bottom