created 2003 - 2005       

Trionfi - not only Playing Cards

Trionfi is the earlier name of Tarot cards, and that's, what this site is dedicated to. We want to present material useful for the research of the oldest Tarot cards, and, of course, also to the question, where these objects come from and how they developed.
The picture showing the virgin Daphne transmuting in a tree and embraced by the god of divination, Apollo, was done around the year 1470. 50 years earlier the Milanese Duke Filippo Maria Visconti commissioned a card deck, in which, as we analysed it, the figure of Daphne was concentrated as the central theme. The card deck is lost, however, by an accompanying manuscript we know a little bit about the content and how the cards looked like.

There are reasons enough to assume, that this were the oldest Tarot cards, however, it was rather different to that, what later developed to be the standard Tarot deck. Curiously the strange motif chosen by Filippo Maria Visconti contained a symbol, which - magical oracle - predicted somehow what much later happened: The rather unbelievable success of the Tarot cards as a tool of divination.

Apollo is the god of divination. He seeks love, but the virgin he choses transforms in a laurel tree with leaves. Well, paper is done using wood, the development of playing cards depended on paper production and the tree of Tarot, as we know it, has many leaves full of colorful pictures used just for that, what Apollo stands for: divination.

Also it is curious, that the laurel was the sign of the triumphal winner, and that the decks, which somehow followed the tradition, which was set up by Filippos Maria Visconti, later were called Trionfi cards.

The term "Trionfi" was already in the world, when playing cards were created for the first time. The following pages, reachable under the menu to the left, show other forms of "Trionfi", such, which existed independently and before the name was borrowed to name a card deck.
Antonio Pallaiuolo: Apollo and Daphne, ca. 1470