Riddle of the number 16

  • Filippo Maria Visconti had some books about Geomancy in his library. He knew the scheme with its 16 figures. In Geomancy often 12 signs are correlated with the 12 houses of astrology, which leads to a 12+4-scheme, which we can also perceive in the Michelino deck with 12 gods and 4 special figures.
  • Jupiter reigns in the Michelino deck. The socalled Jupiter-square consists of the numbers 1-16, which are sorted in a 4x4-matrix in the way, that each row and column and diagonal adds up to the sum 34.
  • Jupiter stayed a figure in the Tarot or reappeared in various versions. The Tarocco Siciliano knows this card (highest card, replacement of the angel). The Mantegna Tarocchi has it, as a planet, even the later Tarot Besancon used it together with Junon as replacement for Pope and Popessa.
  • Card Nr. 16 of the socalled standard Tarot was called in the manuscript of the unknown preacher at the end 15th century "Sagitta", arrow. In the contemporary Mantegna Tarocchi Jupiter was designed with an arrow in his hand, and it is obvious from mythological context, that this sagitta in his hand means a lightning. In later Tarot iconography the symbol developed to be a tower, strucked by a lightning. The name varied, alternatives became "House of God" or - quite a contrast - "house of the devil".
  • It's said, that around the mid of 15th century (probably with the manuscripts collecting pope Nicholas 1447 - 1455) it became custom in Italy, to talk about God with the name of Jupiter, the upcoming humanistic learning of Latin mingled the termina. The "angle" in the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-Tarocchi, one of the 14 Bembo cards, probably manufactured around 1452, shows a man with a white beard. Iconographically not really an angle probably, but probably God himself. The later use of Jupiter in the Tarocco Siciliano (Jupiter replaces the Angle card) seems to follow this tradition.
  • In the Michelino deck description, the text of Martiano da Tortona, Jupiter is described with four lights in the 4 corners, the fourth is a lightning, the 3rd a star like Mars, the upper both might present hiding descriptions of Moon and Sun. Lightning - Star - Moon - Sun, that is precisely the row of the Tarot cards in the socalled later Standard Tarot, cards 16, 17, 18 and 19, but the information is from the Michelino deck, manufactured some decades before anything like a "standard Tarot" existed, a deck, in which Jupiter was connected to the number 16.
  • The representation of Jupiter with 4 lights in the corner (Michelino deck) reminds the later representation of the card "World", mostly presenting symbols of the 4 evangelists.

    21 World central Figure with 4 objects in the corner
    20 Angel in the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo the Angel is a bearded man
    19 Sun 1st light in one upper corner
    18 Moon 2nd light in one upper corner
    17 Star 3rd light in one lower corner
    16 Sagitta 4th light in one lower corner (lightning)

    15 Devil The dark force has confused the world below

    14 Temperance 1st cardinal virtue - belongs to body
    13 Death Death is high in the world cause the confusing action of the devil, "body" is negative (negative)
    12 Hanging Man Traitor, negative

    11 Strength 2nd cardinal virtue - belongs to soul
    10 Wheel of Fortune the chances of life, with an aspect of time, the soul aspect is "fighting in life" (balanced)
    9 Hermit=Time Time means also Age (balanced)

    8 Justice 3rd cardinal virtue, actually at the place of Prudentia, the 4th, which would presenr spirit
    7 Chariot Triumph, the heigth of life (positive)
    6 Love Unity (positive)

    5 Pope one of the 4 basic figures
    4 Emperor one of the 4 basic figures
    3 Empress one of the 4 basic figures
    2 Popessa one of the 4 basic figures
    1 Magician lowest trump, important function in the game
    0 Fool no trump, important function in the game
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