Re: Why this number of trumps?

#31
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: Roland Faber argues that Maurice Kendall's suggestion, later taken up by Gertrude Moakley, that the number of tarot trumps can be explained by analogy to the number of unique throws of two dice, which is 21, is insufficient to explain the number of tarot trumps

....

I believe that it is highly plausible that the presence of the number 21 in dice games and the new attention drawn to this number beginning with Bernardino, could have influenced a game-designer creating a series of images to add to a card game which would illustrate the role of Fortune in life and the way of triumphing over it.
The German XV Century Sun/Moon card recently posted by Huck seems to confirm this hypothesis. I have ordered my copy of "Il Castello dei Tarocchi" and I am looking forward to see more of this deck :)
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Re: Why this number of trumps?

#32
I wish Marco would say a little more about how he sees this Castello card in relation to the topic of this thread. I don't understand.

Also, I had missed reading Ross's article. Thanks for calling attention to it. But again, I don't understand.

I don't understand why someone would invent a game that is made to order for attacks against it, i.e. with just the same number that Bernardino and others had associated with sin and the devil. A cardmaker is in business to sell something people will want and enjoy, and thus if possible something he or they won't get in trouble for having. So why would he design a game that appears diabolical, because of its allegience to the evil number 21? As for "defeating fortune," the only way to defeat fortune, according to the preachers, would be not to play cards. It's a little like re-using the name "Edsel" for a new make of car, but insisting that it is the opposite of the old Edsel, a rather self-defeating move on the part of a manufacturer.

However I can see 21 as a good number in the context of fortune-telling, aimed at those that didn't put too much stock in fire-and-brimstone preachers. The reason is that suggested by Robert Place in The Tarot, History, Symbolism, Divination, p. 25f (in Google Books). Huson makes a similar point in The Mystical Tarot, p. 46ff (also in Google Books). There were booklets listing fortunes corresponding to each of the 21 outcomes of the dice. These booklets could then be used in simple sortilege: you draw a card and get a fortune, the one in the booklet corresponding to the number on the card. If you get the Fool you draw again. There were similar books for 56 outcomes. There were also correspondences between the 23 letters of the alphabet and 23 fortunes. The preachers probably got some of their ideas from looking at the booklets they were burning, adapting them freely (I have never heard of an alphabet with 21 letters; the one in use then had 23, as far as I know).

On this view, the tarot would probably not have had 21 plus 1 trumps at the beginning, precisely so as to avoid the association with evil dice. Especially when first in production for the masses, it needed to be as pious as possible, so as to avoid the condemnation of the Church: hence all the religious imagery, suggesting a ladder to heaven rather than hell. Later, once the decks were established, cardmakers would have seen the appeal of a deck with additional possibilities for fortune-telling, and the deck with 21 numbered trumps would be the one to thrive.

Gambling and divination would have been seen as intrinsically connected. Classical tradition held that dice-like things were used in fortune-telling before they were used in gambling. Robert Graves makes this point in his Greek Myths. A source in Google Books is Harvard Studies in Classical Philology Vol. 83, p. 9 (I got to it with the search words "Apollo priestesses pebbles." There are many other such sources.) Multi-colored pebbles were shaken in water by the priestesses of Apollo. And when soldiers cast lots--not only to divide the spoils, but to see who would go on a particularly dangerous mission--they were thinking that in that way the gods would signify their will. I suspect that this point was known in Renaissance Italy. The humanists read the same books as Graves etc. Apollo invented divination, and Hermes debased it as gambling, as the Homeric Hymn to Hermes hints. So for e.g. the superstitious prostitutes who used the tarot as a come-on with erudite clients (the context in Aretino), divination with tarot would be a way of discerning God's will, the "divine" in "divination."

This divinatory use of tarot is not documented until Venice 1527 (if Place p. 25 is correct); before that--1507 Gianfrancesco Pico, as Ross discovered, and c. 1505 Strassburg, per http://trionfi.com/0/p/41/--it is just "playing cards." But I would think that the practice started even earlier. Trionfi's documentation of a 1485 German oracle book with fortunes related to 51 or 52 animals looks suspiciously like it might have been adapted from cards, especially since the fortunes resemble those in the later oracle books for cards.

But the production of a deck with 22 trumps might originally have had nothing to do with dice or fortune-telling. It might have been the result of an effort to standardize the cards among cities, what with Milan having a card others didn't (Papess) and others having cards that Milan didn't (Devil, Tower). 20, or 20 plus the Fool, is a rounder number than 22, more consistent with the "Mantegna" and the fashionable Christian Pythagoreanism of the times (which imagined the descent and ascent of the soul through 10 spheres). Then dice, perhaps along with a tantalizing suggestion that the cards were the letters of God's language, Hebrew, might have made 22 as the number to survive.

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#33
mikeh wrote: I don't understand why someone would invent a game that is made to order for attacks against it, i.e. with just the same number that Bernardino and others had associated with sin and the devil. A cardmaker is in business to sell something people will want and enjoy, and thus if possible something he or they won't get in trouble for having. So why would he design a game that appears diabolical, because of its allegience to the evil number 21? As for "defeating fortune," the only way to defeat fortune, according to the preachers, would be not to play cards. It's a little like re-using the name "Edsel" for a new make of car, but insisting that it is the opposite of the old Edsel, a rather self-defeating move on the part of a manufacturer.

However I can see 21 as a good number in the context of fortune-telling, aimed at those that didn't put too much stock in fire-and-brimstone preachers. The reason is that suggested by Robert Place in The Tarot, History, Symbolism, Divination, p. 25f (in Google Books). Huson makes a similar point in The Mystical Tarot, p. 46ff (also in Google Books). There were booklets listing fortunes corresponding to each of the 21 outcomes of the dice. These booklets could then be used in simple sortilege: you draw a card and get a fortune, the one in the booklet corresponding to the number on the card. If you get the Fool you draw again. There were similar books for 56 outcomes. There were also correspondences between the 23 letters of the alphabet and 23 fortunes. The preachers probably got some of their ideas from looking at the booklets they were burning, adapting them freely (I have never heard of an alphabet with 21 letters; the one in use then had 23, as far as I know).
hi Mike,
I don't know about correspondences between 23 letters and 23 fortunes. Where?

Yes, 21 and 56 were used for simple sortilege, already rather early. Michael Hurst noted in his Fragments ...
http://www.arcane-archive.org/occultism ... tory-1.php
c.965 Cambrai, France.
Bishop Wibold recommends the use of a dice game as a spiritual
exercise. The game associated 56 clerical virtues with the 56
outcomes of three dice. At the end of the game, the players
must exemplify the virtues for the rest of the day. Thierry
Depaulis: "Wibold was bishop of Cambrai (northern France) in
the 10th century. He devised a complicated dice game called
Ludus regularis seu clericalis which was described in a
Chronicle written in the following years. (This Chronicle was
later edited and published in 1615.) There is a long entry on
the game in Jean-Marie Lhôte's Dictionnaire des jeux de
société (1996)."

Gertrude Moakley mentioned Wibolds game in connection with the
number of cards in a Tarot deck. "Why are there fifty-six suit
cards, and why are there twenty-one trumps? The answer is
found when we remember that cards, as a game of chance,
replaced dice almost completely. In the dice games which use
three dice, there are fifty-six possible throws, and with two
dice twenty-one." (M 41-42.)
....
mikeh wrote:This divinatory use of tarot is not documented until Venice 1527 (if Place p. 25 is correct); before that--1507 Gianfrancesco Pico, as Ross discovered, and c. 1505 Strassburg, per http://trionfi.com/0/p/41/--it is just "playing cards." But I would think that the practice started even earlier. Trionfi's documentation of a 1485 German oracle book with fortunes related to 51 or 52 animals looks suspiciously like it might have been adapted from cards, especially since the fortunes resemble those in the later oracle books for cards.
Actually it looks in this context, as if the playing card version of 1505 has developed from the earlier lot book model, not vice versa.
Nonetheless we have only "no evidence" for earlier divination with cards, and this naturally doesn't imply, that similar "humble" card divination processes were NOT in use occasionally earlier. But, anyway, it it seems doubtful to calculate any thick, well manifested tradition. Relatively strong seems to have been the early distribution of lot books in many variations. Sotzmann, who around 1850 wrote in excellent manner about lot books, observed or at least expressed the opinion, that early librarians disregarded them, cause there were so many of them and many of these were very cheaply manufactured.
But the production of a deck with 22 trumps might originally have had nothing to do with dice or fortune-telling. It might have been the result of an effort to standardize the cards among cities, what with Milan having a card others didn't (Papess) and others having cards that Milan didn't (Devil, Tower). 20, or 20 plus the Fool, is a rounder number than 22, more consistent with the "Mantegna" and the fashionable Christian Pythagoreanism of the times (which imagined the descent and ascent of the soul through 10 spheres). Then dice, perhaps along with a tantalizing suggestion that the cards were the letters of God's language, Hebrew, might have made 22 as the number to survive.
Conradus Müller or Conradus Molitor, also called Konrad Bollstatter, wrote or collected between 1450 - 1473 10-13 different Losbuch versions, and the first of them (made 1450) used a scheme with 4x22 units, somehow rather similar to the very successful model of Lorenzo Spirito, who used a 4x20-scheme in 1482. So a divination model using 22 as a key number was "somehow" active in the critical time of the Trionfi card genesis, but ... evidence, that these cards cards already had 22 special cards is simply missing.

But there is nothing really unusual about playing card creativity in Nurremberg around 1493, also not with an use of dice results (Germany hadn't too much to do with Italian prohibtions).
But the nearness of time of "marriage of Italian princess with playing card interests to German king 1493/94" and "production short after 1493" give reason to assume a causal context between both events.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#34
mikeh wrote:I wish Marco would say a little more about how he sees this Castello card in relation to the topic of this thread. I don't understand.
The lower part of this trump card seems to include one of the 21 possible outcomes of the throw of two dice (4+4). So it made me think of Ross' observations about the possible connection between the number of the trumps and dice.

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#35
Marco wrote
The lower part of this trump card seems to include one of the 21 possible outcomes of the throw of two dice (4+4). So it made me think of Ross' observations about the possible connection between the number of the trumps and dice.
Yes, of course. It's like a domino. I think I even read that once, but forgot. I am so used to thinking of the Sun card in terms of one number from 1 to 21!

Huck wrote
I don't know about correspondences between 23 letters and 23 fortunes. Where?
Huson talks about it, without citing a source, on his p. 48, here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=dVne-R ... &q&f=false

Huck wrote
Actually it looks in this context, as if the playing card version of 1505 has developed from the earlier lot book model, not vice versa.
My reason for thinking that the earlier lot book was in fact made for playing cards is that there were 52 animals listed. Weren't there 52 card decks then? Why else would there be exactly 52 animals?

Huck wrote,
Conradus Müller or Conradus Molitor, also called Konrad Bollstatter, wrote or collected between 1450 - 1473 10-13 different Losbuch versions, and the first of them (made 1450) used a scheme with 4x22 units, somehow rather similar to the very successful model of Lorenzo Spirito, who used a 4x20-scheme in 1482. So a divination model using 22 as a key number was "somehow" active in the critical time of the Trionfi card genesis, but ... evidence, that these cards cards already had 22 special cards is simply missing.
I didn't know about these 4x20 and 4x22 schema. Very interesting, a 4x22 scheme in 1450. For there to be a causal connection between the 22 trumps and these schema, there doesn't have to have been 22 trumps first. I am saying that the cards could have been been made, or simply survived, in virtue of fitting such a 22 (or 20, transitionally) unit sortilege schema. But now I wonder: why was 22 picked then at all? Why that number, exactly? And why four sets of them?

And thanks for tracing the idea all the way back to Moakley. How insightful she was (I at least think)!

Re: Why this number of trumps?

#36
mikeh wrote: Huck wrote
I don't know about correspondences between 23 letters and 23 fortunes. Where?
Huson talks about it, without citing a source, on his p. 48, here:
http://books.google.com/books?id=dVne-R ... &q&f=false
Huson is not very specific at this place. I would tend to place a "?" for this "23" based on some study about the lot books.
Huck wrote
Actually it looks in this context, as if the playing card version of 1505 has developed from the earlier lot book model, not vice versa.
My reason for thinking that the earlier lot book was in fact made for playing cards is that there were 52 animals listed. Weren't there 52 card decks then? Why else would there be exactly 52 animals?
Might be for instance the reason of 52 weeks in the year. Might be just an imitation of the playing card model. It's not enough to accept this as evidence for playing card divination.
Don't understand me wrong : I personally would think, that it is plausible, that playing cards occasionally would have served divination interests in 15th century. But in the argumentation about it only hard evidence would count.
The Spanish Emperor cards (ca. 1450), which were explored by Ross recently and somehow also the Boiardo Tarocchi have also a little bit this divination interests. In both cases the cards are filled with words (poems), something, which repeats in the lot books. But both also can't be counted as "strong evidence".


The 4x22-model, presented by Bollstatter, is only documented in German sources about Bollstatter(as far I know).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konrad_Bollstatter
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Konrad_Bollstatter
http://www.tarotforum.net/archive/index ... 81948.html
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=442
And thanks for tracing the idea all the way back to Moakley. How insightful she was (I at least think)!
[/quote]

I didn't contribute this (I think, it was Marco), and also I would think, that this idea is rather trivial and happened much earlier, long before Moakley.
I personally had no problem to have the idea myself, totally without Moakley and totally without any source, as far I remember (though later than Moakley ... :-) ... but if I would start to be proud of such trivial stuff, I would have much to do ... ).
The whole 22-mystery was presented in Sepher Yetzirah at least ca. 500 AD and also as a subsystem of I-Ching 3000 years ago ... :-) ... it's just a trivial part of the features of the binary tree.

... :-) ... If one of the human strings of playing card research (let's assume some part of English language esoteric) did their best to overlook the somehow natural and trivial relationship between dice game and card game during 15th century in Italy in all their jungle of far more complex speculations about the mysteries of Tarot, so it's somehow difficult to celebrate Moakley's idea a great breakthrough of human evolution.
It's more part of the otherwise interesting phenomenon, how good this hypnosis about all these mysteries of Tarot had worked, which worked according the motto: assume the fantastic and overlook the simple ... .-)

Another simple and logical relationship is that between Chess and Tarot. Chess had already an iconographic tradition before playing and Trionfi cards had been even known. Chess was a dominating game ... it's very natural, that the new media playing cards took influences of the other.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

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