The three Zodiac cards in Noblet, and the Gemini in books of hours

This is another in the Tarocchi goes west series, on the SUN card, although I don't regard it as definitive.

I have no theory that explains why Aquarius, Cancer, and Gemini, rather than some other zodiac signs, were chosen for Star, Moon, and Sun. I also don't know whether Noblet, or the Cary sheet cardmaker, was the innovator who put first Zodiac signs on tarot cards. It seems that perhaps they must share that honor, the Cary sheet artist put in Aquarius and Cancer on Star and Moon, but it seems Noblet was the first to put in Gemini for Sun. I find it a little implausible that there were two innovators.

It all comes down to the incomplete Sun card on the Cary sheet. If Andy Pollet's striding boy reconstruction is correct, it is not Gemini nor any other Zodiac sign, so the Cary artist innovated with Zodiac signs for Star and Moon only, but Noblet was the first to use a Zodiac for Sun. So lets look closely at the Sun card reconstruction. Here it is:
Cary sheet tarot; restored sun.jpg
Cary sheet tarot; restored sun.jpg (17.52 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
reconstruction due to Andy Pollett.

Here is the figure on the Cary Sun card (the "Cary" man), compared on either side with clips from two photographs from Eadweard Muybridge, one man walking toward us (the "facing" man), and one walking across our field of view (the "across" man). Several points show that the Cary man is primarily facing toward us, turned at most half to his right. Most important is the location of his shoulder, and also the crease between his pubic area and his upper thigh. The "across" man's shoulder does not stick out from his body in our picture, quite different from the Cary man's shoulder . A vertical line passing through the left eye, in the photo of the "across" man, is wholly to the left (our left) of his body. A vertical line through the left eye of the "facing" man, bisects his body, passing a little to right (our right) of his penis. The Cary man is like the "facing" man in this. Across the Cary man's left shoulder, are two lines, which is perhaps a strap, or is his collar-bone. Either way, a strap over the "across" man's shoulder would not look like that, and we don't see his collar bone.
muycary.png (585.2 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
Muybridge : ... 01b~4).jpg
Cary sheet : ... c1500..jpg

Here is the Cary sheet man compared to half the man from three Gemini images from three books of hours. Note the crease between the pubic area and the upper thigh, and the curves of buttock, thigh, and calf. Note the shoulder in each case. Note the relative position of the left eye and the body. Note the nipple. Note the jawline.
three half men.PNG
three half men.PNG (624.48 KiB) Viewed 7428 times ... r/f15.item ... s/f17.item ... 5/f15.item

Here are two full scenes, from which the above half-men came. Yes, almost every book of hours after 1300 shows, as the image for the Zodiac sign of The Twins, a naked man and woman doing something that siblings, let alone twins, should not do.
two pairs.PNG
two pairs.PNG (529.9 KiB) Viewed 7428 times

All of these images, which match the Cary man in the location of the shoulder and many other details, all show both of the man's eyes. The reconstruction shows only one eye, in a face that is fully in profile. Given the shoulder and other signs, we can be pretty sure the body is not in profile, but it is a separate question whether the head is. We can tell if the head is turned to profile when the body isn't, because it effects the relative positions of head and body. If the Cary man's head was turned in relation to his body, so as to be in profile, his whole head would be further to our left, in the image. His ear, rather than his left eye, would have been vertically above his penis.
man turn face.jpg
man turn face.jpg (61.11 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
So the surviving part of the Cary card, shows a half man who matches closely the clips of half the man, from books of hours Gemini images. But since we have about half the card, shouldn't we see almost all the man, if the original card showed two figures? First let's check the width. The cards on the Cary sheet are all the same width, naturally, so we can check how far the Sun card remnant, which is only the right side, falls short of half of the original width. Here are the Cary Sun card on the right, a reversed version of it on the left, and a full width card on top. The gap shows how far the card is short of half the width of a full card. At the level of the man's face, it is 45% of the full width. The sun, if it was symmetric on the card, had a broad face with a lot of space between the eyes.
width gap RW597.png
width gap RW597.png (372.54 KiB) Viewed 7428 times

Here is another Gemini from a book of hours.
gemini 4.jpg
gemini 4.jpg (266.93 KiB) Viewed 7428 times ... 5d7f59b17d

This is a clip from a page that actually shows a bit more hedge. It is the clip as I made it for my collection of Gemini images; I wanted to show the figures, not hedge, so I clipped them from the page, but I think in a way that is not unbalanced. I think this could be on a tarot card, and you wouldn't think, how lopsided. Here below is a clipping from the above clipping, designed to show as much of the man, as we see on the Cary card: that is, we see his left eye, but not much of his mouth.
hoursCary.PNG (733.27 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
This clipping is 45% of the width of the full clipping above, the same percentage as the existing Cary card is, of its original width. So I think that the half man we have, could be the remainder of a man and woman, without the composition seeming unbalanced. The two figures were just standing very close to one another.

What about the banner?

I think the banner idea is very persuasive, but there are a couple of things it does not explain. First there is the lower staff. Here's the card.
caryRH.PNG (258.32 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
To the right (our right) of his calf, there is a white line, more or less parallel to the stick above it. The upper stick, in the reconstruction, is the banner's flagstaff. To the right of his arm, there is a banner tail coming to a triangular point, and ending with a curlycue. This could be the tail of a banner flapping in the breeze, but it is not part of the banner as reconstructed. Here's that reconstruction again:
Cary sheet tarot; restored sun.jpg
Cary sheet tarot; restored sun.jpg (17.52 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
The lower curly-cue certainly looks like the tail of a banner flapping in the breeze, but it is not incorporated into the reconstruction's banner, and it is not clear how to incorporate it.

We would expect to see a continuous line making the man's elbow. Instead there is a gap. If the stick was between his arm and his body, we should see his elbow. If on the other hand the stick is actually behind his body, we should still see his elbow. So I don't know why we don't see his elbow, but nothing that we do see favors the idea that the stick passes between his arm and his body, rather than behind his body. The two parallel sticks could be part of a gate or some other structure that the couple is standing in front of.

Images of the period are full of banners and streamers, often staying up in defiance of gravity, and either containing writing, or serving purposes of modesty. That is, the viewer's modesty; the sex organs are covered from the point of view of the viewer of the painting, they are not hidden from the other characters in the painting. Here are a couple of minchiate cards with banners, the Orfeo one being, in my opinion, about contemporaneous with Noblet. (Who knows when the Cary sheet was).
molinorfeo.PNG (858.62 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
Giovan Francesco di Santi Molinelli :
Orfeo minchiate :

In the books of hours, rather than banners, the modesty shield when there is one is an actual shield, like this:
Gem Bodl MS. Add. A. 46 dtl.png
Gem Bodl MS. Add. A. 46 dtl.png (350.87 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
Bodlean Library : ... 1dba8cf929

Although most books of hours with Gemini pictures, show a man and woman naked, in a highly suggestive pose, only one shows the sex organs. Card makers are at least as restrained. (Noblet isn't, but this is the Cary sheet artist). The Cary man is turned such that his penis would be exposed, if it is not covered by something. So I think we can assume that there was a modesty arrangement of some kind; so if we had the full card some object would just happen to block our view. The strap over the Cary man's shoulder, and the two parallel sticks, may have something to do with a modesty arrangement, as well as the banners.

I would feel I had a more satisfactory explanation of the two sticks, and the two sets of banner tails, and the strap over the shoulder, if I could have tied them together. The idea of a striding boy holding a banner, is persuasive because it ties the stick to the banner tails, as a banner on a stick. But it explains only one of the two sticks, and it explains only one of the two banner tails, It doesn't explain the shoulder strap. Given that the man is not in fact turned in profile striding across the scene, but is turned more than half face on to the viewer, a stick held under his arm would have been pointing more or less straight at us. The back of the stick would not have been at the angle we see. Given the wind direction as shown by the flapping tails, the banner would have been in his face, hiding his face from us. The tails of the banner would have been blown off the edge of the card to our right. Given the man's true stance, as shown by many anatomical details, the flagstaff under his left arm concept does not work. And don't try to tell me the Cary artist simply got everything all wrong: he is the best anatomist of any of these card makers: look at his Aquarius.

So we tell a tale of the Cary artist as the original Zodiac-assigner, and Noblet as only a copier.

Why did the Cary artist pick the images he did? The Cancer Zodiac sign is "ruled by" the Moon, according to a modern astrological site I looked at, but other Zodiac signs are ruled by Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto: the first of these was discovered in 1781. Zodiac signs can also be "exalted" by planets, and they are connected with planets in many other ways as well. The odds were pretty good that, without any real connection, either the Sun card or the Moon card would have gotten, by chance, a Zodiac sign with which it was in some way or other connected, given how many different kinds of connection there are. So I don't see anything that looks like more than chance. In any case, if the Cary artist had an astrological reason for choosing Cancer for Moon, why didn't he choose the sign for his Sun card by the same system? If some connection exists between the Cary sheet cards, and some obscure astrological text, that runs into the objection that card makers are businessmen interested in selling cards; at no time and in no place have they ever shown a tendency to encode Hermetic messages

The connection between the sun and Apollo was widely known. Apollo is a twin; his twin sister is Diana, about the best known of all Roman goddesses; she is known especially for having had a hunter eaten by his own dogs, when he innocently stumbled upon her naked. Needless to say the female in all those books of hours cavorting naked with her brother, is not Diana. Therefore the man is not Apollo. In any case, what would be the point of putting both the sun god and the moon god on the same card?

If we take the Cary artist as the first to use Gemini, Noblet's record as a copier is complete. For 16 trumps, and the fool, he copied Viéville so closely you can hardly tell them apart. For four trumps, he coped the Cary sheet cards very closely. For the Devil, he did not copy anyone's Devil, but came up with something new: he probably could not stomach the Cary artist's Devil toasting babies over the flames after impaling them on a toasting fork. Noblet did not copy that, and he could not copy Viéville because he didn't have the card. He came up with something new, based on a concept of the Devil as the ruler of Hell, presenting himself to his cheering subjects the way an Earthly prince does. But to draw this image, Noblet copied from an available image of Earthly princes. So Noblet was quite the copier. This means we can use Noblet, as our eyes to see the Cary Sun card, which he saw in toto, while we see only 45%.
NobMad.PNG (814.98 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
Noblet :
Madenié this is a repro site ; ... llery.html

Noblet's card shows a couple, in front of a stone wall. The woman has bare tits: Noblet likes tits. The man is fully dressed, the woman has an unexplained collar, and has something tied about her middle, like a shirt tied by the sleeves. (Noblet almost always switches left and right when he copies; hence the man on the left, compared to on the right in Cary). Pierre Madenié, normally a close Noblet copier, has two guys; the clothes on Noblet's guy are gone, but the red collars remain, and we see green waist bands, which show some signs of being something wrapped around and tucked, like the shirt of Noblet.
wraps.PNG (93.99 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
There's a few things about this set of cards that suggest swimming. Digby's De Arte Natandi was published in 1587. There was never a suggestion of bathing costumes in the water.
natandi.jpg (39.41 KiB) Viewed 7428 times
De Arte Natandi : ... ming-1587/

So suppose the Cary artist had the idea of swimming as an activity suitable for the Sun card, in line with the other common activities, such as spinning, that served in other tarot decks. It is certainly a daylight activity, and one you might do especially, on a hot sunny day. So he considers making a picture of it, for his Sun card. A point to consider is that in those days you could buy manuals on how to draw, showing how to draw the standard visual memes: how to draw an eagle, how to draw a man sitting, how to draw the signs of the Zodiac. The Cary artist may have been an illustrator of books of hours, or he may have owned a manual. Anyway, his art would have relied on a relatively small number of established images, the visual memes you see over and over; that's the way it was. If he wanted to show a couple of boys swimming, he would have consulted his repertoire, perhaps looked through his well thumbed manual. And there he would find two naked figures, the sign of Gemini. Was the other figure on the Cary card a woman? Hard to say, but two things point in that direction: all those Gemini images, which are almost always a man and a woman, and Noblet's copy, which is a man and a woman.

But the Cary artist was not making a prayer book for a queen. He would have toned things down a bit, consistent with his other cards. He put in a banner to cover a few things. Noblet copied him, seeing the whole card where we see only 45%. Noblet was the fellow who put exposed sex organs on his Devil and his imps, and tits on his Star card. He decides to show the bare tits on his woman swimmer. But he wraps a shirt around her waist. If he had made the man naked as well, it would still have been rather lewd. It was an odd choice, perhaps, to have the man in clothes and the woman with bare tits and only a shirt around her waist. But whether they are meant to be swimmers or not, the man clothed and the woman with bare tits and a loose tie around her middle is exactly what Noblet did.

It is odd. I think the same about Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe (originally titled Le Bain). Why on Earth do those idiot men still have their clothes on?
Le Bain : ... 80%99herbe

Noblet put in bare tits because he was Noblet. I am assuming in all this that Noblet understood the intent of the Cary artist was a pair of swimmers. Then Madenié copies Noblet. Again, I assume the copier understood the intent, swimming. Madenie reconsiders some of Noblet's odd choices. He makes the two figures both male. (I think so, although the paps of the figure on the left are ambiguous. But female nipples should be circles, not dots). The hand gestures are rather sexual: perhaps they echo the Gemini in the Cary artist's drawing manual.

The River Ouche near Dijon, where perhaps Madenié went swimming. Although I doubt this is an old stone wall, I think there were stone walls to shore up banks of rivers in the 1600s.
river ouche.png
river ouche.png (489.03 KiB) Viewed 7428 times

Re: The three Zodiac cards in Noblet, and the Gemini in books of hours

I will attempt a picture, with my poor skills. I like the idea of the shoulder strap as connected with clothing.

On the subject of Zodiac and planets, I am finding more and more confirmation of an association between the Moon and Cancer, of the right date for Noblet. For example:
Iatromathematisches Hausbuch, 1477-1496, U B Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 291 ... 0058/image
Since there are (or rather were) seven planets, and twelve Zodiac signs, one way was to assign all but two of the planets (Sun and Moon) to two signs each, as here Mercury is assigned to both Gemini and Virgo.
Mercury, Iatromathematisches Hausbuch, 1477-1496, U B Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 291 RH597.png
Mercury, Iatromathematisches Hausbuch, 1477-1496, U B Heidelberg, Cod. Pal. germ. 291 RH597.png (383.88 KiB) Viewed 7289 times
Still nothing that explains the Sun-Gemini, Moon-Cancer, Star-Aquarius triplet.

Re: The three Zodiac cards in Noblet, and the Gemini in books of hours

Still nothing that explains the Sun-Gemini, Moon-Cancer, Star-Aquarius triplet.
Appollo, Gemini with Diana-Artemis, rules Gemini in the Manilius-astrology (used in Palazza Schifanoia, Ferrara, started 1469).

Moon-Cancer is a common astrology connection, Moon rules Cancer. In the Manilius-astrology Cancer is ruled by Mercury, Diana-Moon rules as opposition to Apollo-Sun-Gemini in Sagittarius. Diana is a bow-shooter, too.

Aquarius is associated to Ganymed, who servers as a cupbearer at the Olymp. Ganymed was captured by the eagle of Zeus, who transported him to the Olymp (and somehow to the stars, what makes him a star picture).
In the Manilius astrology Hera-Juno rules Aquarius. Juno is associated to the milky way by the Hercules myth. The milky way distributes stars, as if they were flowing in a liquid medium (milk).

The Manilius text was found in a German library during the council of Constance and got then some attention in Italy.

Re: The three Zodiac cards in Noblet, and the Gemini in books of hours

The distinctive thing about Manilius is that he doesn't use planetary gods, but rather Olympian gods. So it is not as a planet that Apollo rules Gemini, but as an Olympian. A very different system of astrology.

I can't see where you have addressed the question of why Aquarius, Cancer, Gemini, Huck. So what if Apollo is associated with Gemini, Mercury with Cancer, and Juno with Aquarius? The connection of the Moon with Cancer is Ptolemaic astrology. Why would the designer suddenly switch to Manilius? And then all of a sudden it's not Aquarius but Ganymede, who somehow becomes a star (in what system?), which is somehow connected to the Milky Way and Juno (in mythology, not astrology). She is indeed connected with Aquarius, but not in mythology but in Manilius's strange astrological system. This is all ad hoc, besides being tenuous. It is better than nothing, but barely.

Ross's answer, as I have understood it, is: It's just decoration. there's no need of an explanation. The Cary Sheet artist knew the zodiac, so he put it in.

My answer is that the whole sequence from Death to Sun is inspired by the myth at the end of Plutarch's "On the Face that Appears in the Orb of the Moon," where after Death the soul/spirit separates from the body and rises through the sphere of water and then various parts of Hades (Devil, Lightning, Star) to the Moon (Moon) and then leaves for the Sun (Sun). This myth had already inspired the "Charles VI" Sun card, with Clotho, who figures in the myth. The artist was asked to illustrate the myth, and having done zodiac imagery used what he could from what he knew to convey Plutarch's ideas, as well as those of Porphyry in "On the Cave of the Nymphs", which deals with the same issue of the soul's progress from earth to heaven. I have written about this at length already at, and also at, so I won't repeat myself. What is essential is that while the motif of "increasing light" is being played out at the top, there is another drama at the bottom, as a sub-sequence conceived as a unit. It is in capturing the sequence at the bottom of the cards, very much related to what is on top, that Plutarch is relevant.

Re: The three Zodiac cards in Noblet, and the Gemini in books of hours

Manilius organized in pairs of opposition:

Minerva-Aries ... Vulcanus-Libra
Venus-Taurus ... Mars-Scorpio
Apollo-Gemini ... Diana-Sagittarius
Mercury-Cancer ... Vesta-Capricorn
Jupiter-Leo ... Juno-Aquarius
Ceres-Virgo ... Neptun-Pisces

If Leo is the place of Jupiter, then Juno must have been the place of Aquarius according this system of opposition between female and male gods. Both are married.
Neptun took Ceres by force and both had the children Arion and Despoina
Hades is not an Olympian. Mercury replaces him and had the function Psychopompus, who guided the souls to the underworld. Hades was paired with Vesta-Hestia, cause both weren't married and neither had children.
That's the triade "married - not married, but children - no children" of the 6 Saturn children

Leo is the the first Olympian, Mercury the last, the 12th ... possibly the year (once) started with Jupiter-Leo, and finished with Mercury-Cancer.
Possibly this explains, why the other astrology has moon associated to Cancer and Jupiter to Leo and the 5 planets sorted in opposition around both, each of them governing two zodiac signs. Somehow there's the idea of the "Thema mundi"

The children pairs (located in modern spring and modern autumn) explain by itself, Apollo/Artemis as brother/sister, Mars/Venus as lucky lovers, but not married,
and Vulcanus as a cheated husband and not accepted by Athena.

Re: The three Zodiac cards in Noblet, and the Gemini in books of hours

I did warn you my artistic skill is not high. Here is my reconstruction of the Cary sheet Sun card.
Scan of Cary sun as Gemini RH597.png
Scan of Cary sun as Gemini RH597.png (409.64 KiB) Viewed 7156 times
I doubt the real card was quite so explicit. I wanted to check out the anatomy for plausibility first, and then try to draw in flapping cloth to cover things. My basic idea is that the woman also has a cloak, and her cloak has tails which blow in front of her.

I think the look of the man's shoulders is plausible: this angle of stance is correct for the part of the card we have.

The overall look of the couple, is just like any number of Gemini representations. After 1400 the "twins" are always naked, always male and female, and always look like they are about to start doing it: 90 to 95% of Gemini figures are like that, I think. This is true in Books of Hours, and less true, but still most of the time, of other places where Gemini images might appear, such as astronomy books.

Here is the Gemini I traced from, shown reversed:
Bodl MS Douce 72 Gem Rev RH595.png
Bodl MS Douce 72 Gem Rev RH595.png (545.99 KiB) Viewed 7156 times ... 5d7f59b17d

I have been looking for zodiac signs in places other than books of hours, here is my latest find:
Gemini, Tübinger Hausbuch, Iatromathematisches Kalenderbuch, die Kunst der Astronomie und Geomantie, 1400-1500, Md 2, f.3r.jpg
Gemini, Tübinger Hausbuch, Iatromathematisches Kalenderbuch, die Kunst der Astronomie und Geomantie, 1400-1500, Md 2, f.3r.jpg (217.84 KiB) Viewed 7156 times
Tübinger Hausbuch, Iatromathematisches Kalenderbuch, die Kunst der Astronomie und Geomantie, 1400-1500, Tübingen University Library, Md 2, f.3r

Re: The three Zodiac cards in Noblet, and the Gemini in books of hours

Huck: I fail to understand how any of what you present explains why the artist drew Aquarius-Cancer-Gemini.

Sandy: That was a yeoman's effort, and I appreciate it. My primary concern is the two sticks, the one that goes from the ground in the lright lower corner up to the male's knees, and then the one you drew on the other side, going from the left edge to the female's hair. What are these? My interpretation of the one already there is that it is the stick of a hobby horse, which he holds with his right hand (I think) after it has come out from between his legs.

Another problem is that the stick of the banner seems very unstable, if it passes behind the male's back. Surely it passes in front of his chest, held in place by his left elbow and hand. The two sticks are completed roughly like in the illumination, except that since the angles are different, so that he holds the hobby horse with his right hand (I think) and the banner with his left.

from ... 2&start=50

Re: The three Zodiac cards in Noblet, and the Gemini in books of hours

I have no preference among the reconstructions, but I do think that Sandy has correctly pointed out the necessity of keeping the width of the card intact while making one.

The Sun's face is more broad and squat than in the other reconstructions. I am not sure that the lower line indicates a second stick. The high resolution image shows that it might be interpreted as a little garden border on the ground.

The mirror image shows that there is plenty of room for two nearly-embracing individuals.

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