Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#101
What a wonderfully rich thread...

Allow me a small opportunity to comment on some of the points in the opening post and also on a couple of entries.
  1. Tarot was played as a game in the 15th century.
  2. Tarot was invented to play a game.
  3. The trump series originally had a coherent meaning.
  4. There are three families of orders for the trump series.
  5. Every one of the original orders has a coherent symbolic meaning.
  6. Not every tarot trump series has a coherent meaning.
  7. Tarot was created by adding a new set of cards (the Trumps) to a previously existing type of playing cards deck, made of pips and figures divided in four different suits.
  8. The game of Tarot was invented in the 1400s
  9. There is no esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical or magical narrative intended in the original set of trumps.
  10. A "standard Tarot Deck" includes 1 Fool, 21 Trumps, 16 Court cards, and 40 Pips equalling 78 cards in total.
  11. The trumps and the pips don’t share a common historical origin.
  12. The narrative of the early tarot is informed by orthodox religious motifs of the Roman Catholic church.
  13. The imagery and sequence of the trumps were influenced by Trionfi traditions.
  14. ...next?
Regarding point 3, I must admit that I agree with Dummett (and possibly got it from there in the first place and forgotten about it - thanks for the reference, Ross!):
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:[...] Dummett on pages 387-388 of Game of Tarot concerning interpretations of the meaning of the sequence, or whether it has one:
I do not even want to take a stand about the theories that have been advanced. The question is whether a theory is needed at all. I do no mean to deny that some of the subjects , or some of the details of their conventional representations, may have had a symbolic significance obvious to fifteenth-century Italians, or, at least, to educated ones, that escapes us and may be revealed by patient research; that is very likely to be the case. But the question is whether the sequence as a sequence has any special symbolic meaning. I am inclined to think that it did not [...]. They wanted to design a new kind of pack with an additional set [...] so they selected for those cards a number of subjects, most of them entirely familiar, that would naturally come to the mind of someone at a fifteenth-century Italian court.
If I think about a game to which is to be added a number of images that will act as trumps, the sequence does not need to have a coherent meaning. This does not preclude that there will be a more-or-less general ordering, but these are as likely to arise out of the creative impulse and its sequencing of thought rather than reflect a 'series with coherence'. So points 5 and 6 ('Every one of the original orders has a coherent symbolic meaning' and 'Not every tarot trump series has a coherent meaning') I may prefer somehow left out.

In summary, I may want to alter point 3 somewhat closer to something like:
3 - The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful
This, in fact, is closely linked to the final two points, and so those may be subsets of that point, to something like the following:
3 - The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful that was:
  1. informed by orthodox religious motifs of the Roman Catholic church; and
  2. influenced by Trionfi traditions
Regarding 4, viz., that:
4 - There are three families of orders for the trump series.
I would prefer that it be stated in a more historical context... not sure how to best do that, but something like:
4 - Three families of orders arose by the 16th [? 17th?] century for the trump series, referred to as the A ('southern' - Bologna & Florence), B ('eastern' - Ferrara & Venice), and C ('northern' - Milan, also commonly named 'Marseille') patterns
With regards to points 7 & 8, they again seem to be closely connected, and could perhaps be combined in a form that does not need to duplicate an aspect of point 1 - something like:
Tarot was invented in the 1400s by adding a new set of cards (the Trumps) to a previously existing type of playing cards deck derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits
Point 11 now becomes redundant, by the way.

With regards to point 9, viz.:
There is no esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical or magical narrative intended in the original set of trumps.
I personally share some of the misgivings mentioned in various other posts, and yet also agree with the sentiment of the point raised. What I mean by this is that any of those 'esoteric' aspects may have had an influence on imagery without thereby assuming that a 'narrative' was intended. So I'm unsure as to how word this in a way that neither neglects various common influences from the period on imagery, whilst at the same time agreeing that 'no esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical or magical narrative' instructs the set or sequence.... how about something like:
The original set of trumps did not reflect a sequence of esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical nor magical narrative
With point 10, I must admit that I still find the separation of the Fool from the 'trumps' a little strange. Though it's the case that once numeration occurs that card (generally) remains without number, its inclusion seems part and parcel of the trumps - in that they are pictorial images of a different order to the other four suits.

I would thus prefer to have the description somehow reflecting this. Again, not sure how to best manage this...
A "standard tarot deck" has come to include 22 trumps (sometimes delineated as 1 Fool and 21 other trumps), with four other suits which include a total of 16 court cards and 40 pips, for a total equalling 78 cards.

I think that's it on my comments for now... I had intended on adding something to OP's post, but I've made this long enough as is.
Image
&
Image
association.tarotstudies.org

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#102
... so in a nutshell, here's how I see the current points re-phrased:
  1. Tarot was invented in the 15th century for game-playing.
  2. Tarot's invention arose by adding a new set of cards (the Trumps) to a previously existing type of playing cards deck derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits
  3. The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful that was:
    1. informed by orthodox religious motifs of the Roman Catholic church; and
    2. influenced by Trionfi traditions
  4. Three families of orders arose by the 16th [? 17th?] century for the trump series, referred to as the A ('southern' - Bologna & Florence), B ('eastern' - Ferrara & Venice), and C ('northern' - Milan, also commonly named 'Marseille') patterns
  5. The original set of trumps did not reflect a sequence of esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical nor magical narrative
  6. A "standard tarot deck" has come to include 22 trumps (sometimes delineated as 1 Fool and 21 other trumps), with four other suits which include a total of 16 court cards and 40 pips, for a total equalling 78 cards.
  7. ...next?
Image
&
Image
association.tarotstudies.org

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#103
jmd wrote:... so in a nutshell, here's how I see the current points re-phrased:
[*]A "standard tarot deck" has come to include 22 trumps (sometimes delineated as 1 Fool and 21 other trumps), with four other suits which include a total of 16 court cards and 40 pips, for a total equalling 78 cards.
[*]...next?[/list]
To call the fool a 'trump' is a misnomer in terms of the game in that it does not 'trump' (excepting in late adaptions of the game that numbered it 22 and treated it as a trump) anything - it is an 'excuse' ; so I think '22 figures composing 21 trumps and the 'fool' (excuse)....
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#105
SteveM wrote: To call the fool a 'trump' is a misnomer in terms of the game in that it does not 'trump' (excepting in late adaptions of the game that numbered it 22 and treated it as a trump) anything - it is an 'excuse' ; so I think '22 figures composing 21 trumps and the 'fool' (excuse)....

I believe the Fool, despite his role in play, is clearly part of the 22 card allegorical narrative. Is this the general consensus?

If so, perhaps we could say,

A standard tarot deck has come to include 22 allegorical cards, usually delineated as 1 Fool and 21 trumps, with four other suits which include a total of 16 court cards and 40 pips, for a total equalling 78 cards.
When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#106
R.A. Hendley wrote:
SteveM wrote: To call the fool a 'trump' is a misnomer in terms of the game in that it does not 'trump' (excepting in late adaptions of the game that numbered it 22 and treated it as a trump) anything - it is an 'excuse' ; so I think '22 figures composing 21 trumps and the 'fool' (excuse)....

I believe the Fool, despite his role in play, is clearly part of the 22 card allegorical narrative.
As i said, 22 figures composed of 21 trumps and fool... I have no problem with inserting allegorical, perhaps his place in the narrative is as one who, as the Italian proverb has it, is here, there and everywhere; including even a priviledged place at court.

If however he is to be read as fixed at the front as a representative of societies three estates, then along with the juggler it is a somewhat 'different' representation of the composition of society, not a society of protectors, priests and peasants, but of protectors, priests and court performers :D (As a representative of our poet / pedagogue perhaps the relationship between our performer and his audience relates in some manner to that between our poet and his patrons ~ as he is their subject, so his patrons are in another manner of speaking his 'subjects').

In the early painted cards the fool appears to be the playmate of the children (of nobility?), and the juggler in his fancy courtly ermine finery hardly seems a representative of the 'lowest of the low' among a ranks of man. Given six cards in which to represent three estates it also seems somewhat redundant to use three 'pairs', did they need three superfluous 'fillers' to make it up to 21 (then 'why 21'? perhaps related I thought to dice and the juggler as kubeios, but there is no punning or number symbolism in the early tarot); same with the Bolognese pattern, what is the point of two popes and two emperors or four moors in a 'ranks of man' structure?
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#107
SteveM wrote: (then 'why 21'? perhaps related I thought to dice and the juggler as kubeios, but there is no punning or number symbolism in the early tarot)
Nobody ever said no punning or numerical symbolism in any cards. What the building block says is that the narrative of the trump sequence is not based on numerology (nor apparently a sequence of puns/double entendres/enigmas, etc.). All it would take is a convincing argument to change that perception.

I am myself in fact the person who first proposed a link between the choice of number (21) and the notion of the pips of the dice (1+2+3+4+5+6 = 21) being the "Devil's Alphabet" as used by preachers and moralists like Bernardino of Siena and Meister Ingold - except in the trumps' case inverted to become a Divine alphabet (of course Moakley, on a suggestion of mathematician Maurice Kendall, first observed the 21 throws of 2 dice, without finding any historical context or use of it). If this argument is good, then there is indeed a "symbolism" to the number 21.

I also proposed the choice of the figure for the lowest card, Bagatella, being if not exactly a play on words then a picture with a double meaning - Bagatella means "trifle" primarily, with a closely associated secondary meaning, in the 15th and 16th centuries, of a sleight-of-hand, usually in the dictionaries referring to the cup-and-balls trick.

Since it is hard to imagine how to illustrate a "bagatella" (as a "trifle" or "thing of least value"), the secondary meaning of "cup and balls" trick was illustrated.

Again, I won't insist on this argument, but I see no problem in principle with this kind of thing going on with the choice of images, perhaps with other cards as well.
Image

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#108
SteveM wrote: As i said, 22 figures composed of 21 trumps and fool... I have no problem with inserting allegorical, perhaps his place in the narrative is as one who, as the Italian proverb has it, is here, there and everywhere; including even a priviledged place at court.
I'd agree with this, the Fool does not have a set place.
SteveM wrote:In the early painted cards the fool appears to be the playmate of the children (of nobility?)
I think that at least some of the images show him more the "victim" of the children than playmate isn't he?
SteveM wrote:Given six cards in which to represent three estates it also seems somewhat redundant to use three 'pairs', did they need three superfluous 'fillers' to make it up to 21 (then 'why 21'? perhaps related I thought to dice and the juggler as kubeios, but there is no punning or number symbolism in the early tarot); same with the Bolognese pattern, what is the point of two popes and two emperors or four moors in a 'ranks of man' structure?
I'd agree. I think that if you were going to show the ranks of man, this is a lousy choice of 6 cards to do it with, we have a much better example with the "Mantegna" showing a structure. I'm increasingly less convinced that that is what is being demonstrated with the Fool, Bagatto, Popess, Empress, Emperor, Pope. Of course, this begs the question if not ranks of men, then why are those cards there?

~~~

I've updated the first post with JMD's list.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#109
I notice that Northern Italy isn't specifically mentioned...

Would we generally agree that we can locate this in what is (now) Northern Italy ('Italy' as a country not then in existence, hence the 'now' - also, parts of that region was French at the time).

If we do, then perhaps point 1 could be further altered and focussed:
Tarot was invented in what is now Northern Italy in the 15th century for game-playing.
Image
&
Image
association.tarotstudies.org

Re: The building blocks of Tarot History

#110
Hi everyone,

I had just completed a long post according to the early version of building blocks when you updated it. So here's a rewrite!
#1. Tarot was invented in the 15th century for game-playing.
I would prefer, “Tarot, defined as a combination of two decks, one having images to be used as trumps and the other a set of playing cards in 4 suits, was invented for game playing in the 15th century.”

I think it is important to define tarot here, because if we ever agree that trumps and pips don't share a common historical origin, (and we probably won't since that statement was removed all together) it would no longer make sense to refer to the image cards as trumps. Perhaps they alone were once known as tarot, and the Italian game invented with their inclusion was Tarocchi?
#2. Tarot's invention arose by adding a new set of cards (the Trumps) to a previously existing type of playing cards deck derived from the 13th century Mamluk deck, consisting of pips and figures divided in four different suits
Agreed with the exception that the word “new” be changed to ”separate” because we really do not know if the sequence of cards that became the trumps existed prior to the time of its addition to the playing cards. In other words I agree with the old #11.

(#3?)Old #11
The trumps and the pips don’t share a common historical origin.
#3. The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful that was: a. informed by orthodox religious motifs of the Roman Catholic church; and b. influenced by Trionfi traditions

I propose several separate statements as follows: (#4?) JMD's simple statement,
The set of trumps originally reflected imagery that was common and meaningful.
(#5?): The trump images appear to conform, in general, to Roman Catholic motifs, and they can be seen to support a Roman Catholic narrative. (Note the word “appear” and the phrase “can be seen to.” (#6?) The imagery and sequence may have been influenced by both Trionfi traditions and by the Catholic religion.
#4 Three families of orders arose by the 16th [? 17th?] century for the trump series, referred to as the A ('southern' - Bologna & Florence), B ('eastern' - Ferrara & Venice), and C ('northern' - Milan, also commonly named 'Marseille') patterns
Love it, but would make it (#9?).
#5 The original set of trumps did not reflect a sequence of esoteric, alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, heretical nor magical narrative
I would amend this to read (#7?): “It is not known whether the original set of trumps was intended to reflect alchemical, kabbalistic, numerological, geomantic, astrological, esoteric or heretical information either individually or in a sequentially narrative form.
#6 A "standard tarot deck" has come to include 22 trumps (sometimes delineated as 1 Fool and 21 other trumps), with four other suits which include a total of 16 court cards and 40 pips, for a total equalling 78 cards.
Love it, but would make it (#10?)

(#8?)There is no evidence that the tarot was originally intended to be used for divination. It is likely, however, that its suitability for this purpose was recognized and that it was used in this way very early on. The earliest currently documented use for divination is ___________.

Ok, you can hold my feet to the fire now. :D

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 11 guests

cron