The origin of the name "Tarot"?

Dummett, Decker, Depaulis, Kaplan; here we document the people, places, and events that shaped Tarot History. (Credentials not required; but references, citations, and substantiating evidence may be requested at the door.)

Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

Postby SteveM on 26 Apr 2010, 19:15

SteveM wrote:...
III. a tree (and is the word used in the Greek testaments for the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge)
...the gibbet upon which Christ was crucified.


The cross was said to be of the wood of a branch of the Tree of Knowledge taken from the garden of Eden by Adam; and the generations of Old Adam to New Adam are 77, divided into 56 and 21 by the figure of Abraham, who represents the Jesus jewish bloodline to the patriarch with whom God made his covenant, that to Old Adam representing Jesus universal message (for gentiles and jews).

On some of the Christian symbolism of the tree see for example:
http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zD6x ... st&f=false
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.
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

Postby mikeh on 26 Apr 2010, 19:56

So far on this thread, the hypothesis that makes the most sense to me is a combination of Dummett (in his books, as reported by Ross) and Caldwell/Depaulis (as reported by Ross, i.e. Ross Caldwell [added later in day:, and advocated since at least 2007 by SteveM).]

Ross says he identified "tarocus" or "tarochus" as meaning "fool" in late 15th century Italian, and Depaulis found "taraux" as "stump" or "blockhead" in France of the same era. One suggestion of Ross's is that the cardmakers decided to call the deck and game by the one card, the Fool. That makes more sense than the Arabic "tahr > tare" because it identifies a characteristic of a deck, not just a rule: cardmakers were selling decks, and a rule change could just as easily apply to the games played with regular decks.

The Fool is a good card to pick, because of the importance and uniqueness of the card in the game, as a wild card and a card with lots of points, and, as Steve points out, connotations of Jesus and other "holy fools." Steve's observation of the relation to "gibbet" or "tree" is especially good: Jesus's cross was commonly called a tree. As I pointed out in the final post (so far) of the "Bologna" thread, the role of the Fool in the game is as a sacrifice for the salvation of other cards. So the name is a counter-argument to the preachers' claim that the game is devilish. Also, there is an ironic connotation that people who play the game are blockheads, too, one that the games' devotees probably wouldn't mind, in fact might even use to their advantage, if someone wanted to play them for money.

All of these reasons count against "devil": not an important card, not one with holy connotations, not one with good ironic connotations: presumed blockheads are great to play against, but not presumed cheaters.

But then why the late date of 1505, when the Fool has been a card in the game for half a century at least? That is where Dummett's idea makes sense: people started using regular decks to play Triumphs, reducing sales of the special decks, and the cardmakers needed to fight back.

That is also a weakness in Ross's idea, taken by itself, that the name comes from the name of the town near Avignon. Why the late date of 1505, if decks of this type have been produced in the area for decades? And then why is this odd, locally meaningful name change adopted everywhere else so fast? The only answer that I can see (to both questions) is that the name change was needed, for the reason that Dummett indicates. A combination of Ross's idea plus Dummett's is possible, but it isn't as universally appealing as Caldwell/Depaulis plus Dummett.

The late date is also what is appealing about mmfilesi's "devil" proposal. The first documented evidence of a Devil card is the "Steele Sermon," 1450-1500, and possibly the Cary Sheet, possibly c. 1495-1500. But the "Sermon" could have been decades earlier than 1505, and likewise the Devil card, in examples now lost. Moreover, "Devil" as a name for a deck is not nearly as appealing as "Blockhead," for the reasons already indicated; and as Ross indicates, the word for simpleton, "tarochus," simpleton, related to similar words for "stump," is closer in sound to "tarocchi" than "tarasque."
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

Postby SteveM on 26 Apr 2010, 20:12

mikeh wrote:So far on this thread, the hyothesis that makes the most sense to me is a combination of Dummett (in his books, as reported by Ross) and de Paulis (as reported by Ross).


The idea that it may be related to 'fool' has been identified for a while I think, I know Ross supported that at one time at least as one of the more plausible possibilities, and I had come to that conclusion myself prior to discovering Ross's presentation. Re: Thierry tt is good to know that someone else supports at least the plausibilty of the idea of tarocch meaning fool / blockhead / loggerhead as a figurative expression from 'stump' 'block of wood' et al; I have been banging on about the possibility with little to no response until recently (and that negative) since at least 2007:

http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... tcount=270

I would be very interested in references from older Catalan and Provencal sources that Thierry has to offer; it is the first I have heard of them.
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.
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

Postby Huck on 26 Apr 2010, 22:12

1505: two "first" Taraux-Tarocchi notes in one year, in Avignon and Ferrara ... this looks like a coordinated action.

Ercole d'Este (duke of Ferrara) died 15th of June ... in 1505.
It was already earlier a custom to edit a new card deck with a new ruler.

So there is an explanation for the Tarocchi note in 1505 in Ferrara.

QUANDO SI INIZIA A PARLARE DI "TAROCCO": FERRARA 1505 by Adriano Franceschini
Ferrara 1505 (2 notes)

reported in: QUANDO SI INIZIA A PARLARE DI "TAROCCO": FERRARA 1505 by Adriano Franceschini

Archivio di Stato di Modena, Camera ducale Estense, Guardaroba, 126, Conto di debiti e crediti, II semestre 1505
c. 93r, 30 giugno:
«Conto de merzaria de Guardaroba de' havere... E de' havere adì ultimo dito [giugno] per pare dexedoto de carte videlicet pare oto de tarochi e pare dexe fra schartini e carte de ronfa, quali fono portati a Viguenza, vene di Guradaroba al 3+, a c. 65 ... pare 18»

c. 96r, 26 dicembre: «E de' havere adì ditto per quindexe para de schartini e tarochi fo mandati a Viguenza per el Signore; vene di Guardaroba a 3+, a c. 68....[para] n. 15»


http://trionfi.com/0/p/23/

The first note is from 30th of June, so 15 days after the death of Ercole ... an accident is hardly imaginable.

A more complete version was in an informing letter to Trionfi.com:

"QUANDO SI INIZIA A PARLARE DI "TAROCCO": FERRARA 1505
di Adriano Franceschini

La comparsa in Europa delle carte da gioco nel tardo
Trecento portò a radicali novità nelle pratiche
ludiche. La corte estense in Ferrara fu uno dei luoghi
nei quali le carte ebbero speciale fortuna e la città
si trovò ad avere un ruolo primario nella produzione e
diffusione in particolare dei tarocchi,
sistematicamente indicati nella documentazione più
risalente come "trionfi", col nome che poi venne
piuttosto riservato alle figure che nel mazzo avevano
la funzione di briscola o atout. Quanto all'apparire
del termine "tarocchi" in luogo di "trionfi" per
indicare il gioco, per quel che finora si sa occorre
attendere il secolo XVI. Curiosamente allo stesso anno
1505 risalgono le prime apparizioni finora note del
termine in Italia e in Francia: a Ferrara ed Avignone
(DEPAULIS 2003, p. ..; ORTALLI 1996, p. 190 e nota
75).

Per la Francia il riferimento è a un atto notarile
steso ad Avignone il 26 dicembre 1505, accuratamente
preso in esame e illustrato da Thierry Depaulis in un
recentissimo saggio. Nel documento si tratta di «carte
di Lione» e di «carte volgarmente chiamate tarocchi»;
esattamente: «quatuor duodenis quartarum vulgo
appelatarum taraux» (DEPAULIS 2003, p. ...). Quanto
all'Italia, il termine tarochi compare per la prima
volta in un registro di conti della corte estense
relativo al secondo semestre 1505, in un'annotazione
datata al 30 giugno; ricompare poi una seconda volta
nello stesso registro al 26 dicembre con riferimento
ad alcuni mazzi (para) di carte inviati nella
residenza estense di Voghenza. Sono complessivamente
33 mazzi e il loro numero torna a riprova (se ce ne
fosse bisogno) di quanto si giocasse negli ambienti
della corte ferrarese (FRANCESCHINI 1996).

Le due note ferraresi del 1505 sono già state oggetto
di segnalazione (ORTALLI, 1996, p. 190 e nota 75), ma
si ritiene opportuno proporle nella loro stesura
completa. Il registro che le contiene è conservato
presso l'Archivio di Stato di Modena; il periodo
(ultimi sei mesi del 1505) ci riporta alla signoria di
Alfonso I d'Este, da non molto subentrato al padre
Ercole I morto il 26 gennaio dello stesso 1505. Vale
la pena precisare che nelle note di spesa qui sotto
trascritte si nominano, oltre al tarocco, altri due
giochi di carte: la ronfa e gli schartini. La «ronfa»
era un gioco che ebbe fortuna non soltanto in Italia
(MEHL 1990, p. 173; PARLETT 1991, p. 90; DUMMETT 1993,
pp. 161-163); quanto agli «scartini» che nel 1505
Alfonso I si faceva mandare a Voghenza, si trattava di
carte (e di un gioco) già familiari al padre Ercole I
che delle «carte da scartino» se le era fatte spedire
a Milano nel novembre 1494 (ORTALLI 1996, p. 191; sul
gioco cfr. DUMMETT 1980, pp. 426-427). Si precisa che
che l'annotazione «Guardaroba al 3+» contenuta in
entrambe le registrazioni sotto trascritte rimanda a
un registro dello stesso fondo archivistico segnato
con tre croci «+++». In attesa di possibili, ulteriori
recuperi documentari, le registrazioni estensi sono la
prima testimonianza di mazzi di carte indicati come
«tarocchi».


Archivio di Stato di Modena
Camera ducale Estense, Guardaroba, 126, Conto di
debiti e crediti, II semestre 1505

c. 93r, 30 giugno:
«Conto de merzaria de Guardaroba de' havere...
E de' havere adì ultimo dito [giugno] per pare
dexedoto de carte videlicet pare oto de tarochi e pare
dexe fra schartini e carte de ronfa, quali fono
portati a Viguenza, vene di Guradaroba al 3+, a c.
65..........................................................
pare 18»

c. 96r, 26 dicembre:
«E de' havere adì ditto per quindexe para de schartini
e tarochi fo mandati a Viguenza per el Signore; vene
di Guardaroba a 3+, a c.
68......................[para] n. 15»



Ortalli wrote "26 gennaio dello stesso 1505" in his information, but various wikipedias state 15th of June 1505 and also genealogy.euweb.cz, which notes also a burial date 3rd of July 1505, so there's likely a typo in the text. Or?

There appears twice the date 26th of December, once for Avignon and a second time for Ferrara ...

Ross, is this correct according your informations?

... I hope, that this isn't another confusion.

Well ..

http://books.google.com/books?id=xRyPFL ... io&f=false

... confirms 26th of January - see page 446, note 28. According this Alfonso had been on a journey to France and England and hastened to arrive home, when he heard of the illness of his father.

Frizzi had 17th of January 1505.

Alfonso traveled April 1504 - August 1504 (so didn't come late to the death of his father), and had been "visiting reigning princes: Louis XII in France, Henry VII in England, and Archduke Charles in Brussels, and was recalled prematurely to Ferrara because of his father "

I would say, that the state is "somehow not settled" ... further research needed.

*************************

The son Alfonso d'Este went politically with France. The double appearance of the words Taraux and Taroch in one year should somehow relate to the political alliance.

Perhaps Alfonso collected the word in France during his journey. Perhaps Avignon used the word, as Alfonso used it.
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

Postby SteveM on 27 Apr 2010, 05:52

SteveM wrote:The idea that it may be related to 'fool' has been identified for a while I think, I know Ross supported that at one time at least as one of the more plausible possibilities, and I had come to that conclusion myself prior to discovering Ross's presentation.


My favouring the tarocch=fool being based upon Florio's entry in his Italian - English dictionary, which seemed to me one of the more plausible possibilities, as I wrote in an old thread over at AT in 2006:

I still feel generally that John Florio's Italian – English dictionary 1598 probably gives the most straightforward and correct definition.

Tarócco. see Datarócco.

Datarócco - foolish, gullish, wayward, forward, peeuish

Taroccáre - to play at Tarócchi. Also to play the forward gull or peevish ninnie.

Gull and ninny are synonyms of 'fool'. Taroccare thuse means 'to play the fool. Tarocchi must simply mean something like 'fool' or perhaps 'folly'.

Kwaw


From thread here:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=68779
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
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Re: The tarot and the tarasque...

Postby mikeh on 27 Apr 2010, 06:06

SteveM wrote,
Re: Thierry tt is good to know that someone else supports at least the plausibilty of the idea of tarocch meaning fool / blockhead / loggerhead as a figurative expression from 'stump' 'block of wood' et al; I have been banging on about the possibility with little to no response until recently (and that negative) since at least 2007:

I just posted on the "Sun" thread, in a different context, an excerpt from an old post of mine on Aeclectic that is relevant to the above, on stump symbolism (well, it ws less than a year ago, but old for me: http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.ph ... ost2032651). SteveM will read it there, but it is relevant here, and someone a month from now might miss it. I will post more here.


In cut-off tree imagery, a branch usually grows upwards out of the stump, signifying death and resurrection. Here are two examples, both from the Renaissance:

Image

These Images are from Gerhard Ladner, "Vegetation Symbolism and the Concept of Renaissance," in Images and Ideas in the Middle Ages, p. 746 p. 746, figs. 4 and 5, at Google Books. The designation "falcon" is Leonardo's. But it looks to me more like Noah’s dove, bringing back a twig of new life. As Ladner observes (p. 733), the theme is clearly that of renewal. The branch on the stump is an image that goes back at least to Roman times: a Roman fresco found at the Villa Farnesina shows the killing of the infant Dionysus accompanied by the same motif (Ladner p. 733). And the historian Livy used the image to describe the renewal of Rome after its destruction by the Gauls (Ladner p. 731).

In another Renaissance image, it is linked with the Phoenix, the bird that dies and is reborn, and also with the conjunction of Christ and the Virgin Mary. The accompanying poem says:

“Behold how Death aymes [aims] with his mortal dart,
And wounds a Phoenix with a twin-like hart.[heart].
These are the harts [hearts] of Jesus and his Mother
So linkt [linked] in one, that one without the other
Is not entire...”

Image

The image and text are from The Virgin Mary as alchemical and Lullian Reference in Donne, by Roberta Albrecht, p. 62, at Google Books). It would seem that the image is of the soul’s union with Christ; only in such union can the soul partake of the Phoenix of resurrection.


In this last image, the new shoot comes out of the side, to lead the eye to make the connection to the Phoenix. It is similar to another image in my old post, closer in time and place to the introduction of the name "tarocchi." It is in Giulio Romano's "Room of Psyche" in Mantua, c. 1527. I show only the relevant detail:

Image

In this case, the stump and branch are above a spring that gushes through four jars, two of them next to the old man. To discuss the symbolism there would take me too far afield (I was discussing the Star card), but of course I think it is rebirth.

So stumps naturally connect to the tree on which Jesus hung, dead and living. Of course not all stumps connote death and rebirth. The context matters. In this case it is a word that is polysemous, rather than an image--and the context is a Fool, a game of fools, and the stuff of salvation.
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The origin of the name "Tarot"?

Postby Huck on 27 Apr 2010, 07:20

kwaw wrote:Taroccáre - to play at Tarócchi. Also to play the forward gull or peevish ninnie.

Gull and ninny are synonyms of 'fool'. Taroccare thuse means 'to play the fool. Tarocchi must simply mean something like 'fool' or perhaps 'folly'.


In German language "Schach" means chess. If you attack the opposite king, you've to say "Schach" to address, that the king is in immediate danger. Similar behavior appears in other games, in Go you say "atari", when you attack one or a group of stones. It appears also in card games, for instance Romme and MauMau, a children game, then the gamename is used as finishing word..

For the use of the word "Schach" it's a common feature, that the word is also used outside the game for fight situations, in which somebody reaches a dangerous state, or for a threat.

I would assume, that the words "Tarot, Taraux, Tarocco" generated similar use outside the game - with no real root to the original meaning of the word. As the Fool is a strong figure in the game, "taroccare" might easily develop to "playing the fool", referring to the game background. The Fool gives you according normal rules 5 valuable points and additionally you may play it in a situation, in which you are in danger to lose another high card.

If Taroch or Tarocch (whatever it's meaning) had been a word in 15th century or earlier, where does it show up in a 15th century or earlier document?
Later wordbooks can't really count.
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Re: The origin of the name "Tarot"?

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 27 Apr 2010, 09:22

Here is part of an exchange I had with Thierry Depaulis in April 2008, after I had mentioned Bassano's macaronic use of the term tarocus:

Me - "The name may have been suggested by the Fool (or the by-then unusual Latin suit signs as well as trumps),"

Thierry -
More than the Latin suit signs -- which were not strange at all in this part of Europe at this time -- there clearly is an Italian colloquial word "tarocco", meaning "dull, imbecile", which seems to have had a long history although little attested. The GDLI, sub Tarocco1 (the game), has : "4. Agg. Gerg. sciocco, stupido; pazzo", quoting Berni, then Moniglia (ante 1700) and even Pasolini! It is tempting to add also Garzoni's Ospidale de' pazzi, 1589, who has a long discorso "De' pazzi dispettosi o da tarocco", and Florio (1598, 1611), "Tarocco. Looke Datarocco." > "Da tarocco, gulish, wayward, peeuish." I have also found it under Ippolito Nievo's pen (1831-1861), as "I tacchi in sproni, / Sempre son sciocchi / Come tarocchi."

I don't see "tarocco=sciocco" as typically a "transalpine patois term". It's a purely Italian meaning. Bassano Mantovano was, supposedly, from Mantua, Berni was Florentine, Moniglia also. It is, however, true that Bassano was " attivo nella Milano di Lodovico il Moro e ben introdotto nella Torino umanistica di Pietro Cara" (G. Bernardi Perini, "Macaronica verba", in Integrazione, mescolanza, rifiuto : incontri di popoli, lingue e culture in Europa dall'Antichità al Umanesimo (Convegno Cividale del Friuli, 21-23 sett. 2000), Giampaolo Urso, ed., Rome, 2001, p. 330).

The term still survives, it seems, in Rome: see Fernando Ravaro, Dizionario romanesco, Rome, 1994 : "taròcco - Bestemmia, imprecazione; personna sciocca, ignorante, grossolana."

This sense is perhaps related to or derived from that of "stump, trunk, big stick", where I see a root-word *TARO, which seems to be common to most Romanic languages, although there is nothing in Latin. You will see in the attached file what I mean. (It is a part of a large file that offers 8 semantic groups of words that all have a form "taro(t)/tarau(d)" in the group and all refer to a supposed common etymon whatever it is. I have included some of your remarks.)

The problem is that none of the words I have collected is known to be old. The earliest of these, although 16th century only, is this bassoon called "tarot" in French. However, if there is any derivation I don't think it can be from "fool" to "stump". It must be the other way round.


Here is Bassano's usage, taken from Thierry's large list of semantic groups under *taro -

Ross Caldwell fait aussi remarquer que le poète italien Bassano Mantovano († av. 1499) utilise dans sa Maccheronea (dédiée à Gaspare Visconti, †1499) le mot tarochus au sens d' "idiot, imbécile" :
Erat mecum mea socrus unde putana
Quod foret una sibi pensebat ille tarochus
Et cito ni solvam mihi menazare comenzat

(trad. proposée par Ross Caldwell : "My mother-in-law was with me, and this idiot thought he could get some money out of her, so he started threatening me.")
> Paolo Antonio Tosi, Notizie biografiche e bibliografiche di tre poeti maccheronici del secolo XV, Milan, 1846, p. 16-18 ; Id. Maccheronee di cinque poeti italiani del secolo XV, Milan, 1864, p. 65-67 ; Octave Delepierre, Macaroneana ou mélanges de littérature macaronique des différents peuples de l'Europe, Paris, 1862, p. 251-253 ; Carlo Cordiè, ed., "I maccheronici prefolenghiani", dans Opere di Teofilo Folengo, vol. I, Milan, 1977, p. 999-1000 et "Glossario" sub "Tarocus", p. 1029


I can't publish his whole list, but I will edit it for the parts of interest to this discussion.
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Re: The origin of the name "Tarot"?

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 27 Apr 2010, 09:41

I mentioned earlier that I wasn't sure how taroc was pronounced in Savoyard French, but now I see I had found a proof that the final "c" is pronounced, at least around 1800. I can't see any reason to think they would have had it silent earlier, and then picked up the sound again.

From April, 2008 -

(Thierry): If we accepted a "transitional" (in this case Savoyard or Franco-Provençal) spelling of the game as "taroc(s)", although not attested before 1558 in France (and in Savoy not before... the 18th cent.!), this would nicely explain the intriguing French form "tarot" being derived from the Italian "tarocco". Indeed "taroc(s)" is a typical spelling of all French-speaking Savoyard edicts and tax documents in the 18th century. Even as late as ca 1800 the Annecy rules spell it like this ("Régles du jeu de Tarocs, comme on le joue vulgairement à Annecy"). But I have nothing from Savoy before 1700. The nearest I can find in earlier times is "taroc" as quoted in a Lyonnese pamphlet of 1580. (So the Savoyard spelling may come from Lyons...)

(Me)
It would be nice to have a historical survey of spellings/pronunciations from Nice to Chambèry, and from Turin to the Rhône. The strangest I have noted comes from the wrapper of early 19th century Italian cardmaker Draghi, in Finale (Ligure), who spells it Taroques (see Kaplan, II, 220). The pronunciation there matches that of Louis Capello, Dictionnaire portatif Piemontais-Français (Turin 1814), who has "Taroch, s.; Tarots; on dit des cartes tarotées" and the verb "Tarouché. v. Jouer aux tarots, jouer à tout" (p. 485). He says on page v that "ch" is pronounced "k" - "Le ch se prononce come k ... ".
http://books.google.fr/books?id=sXkrAAA ... ctionnaire

I realise this is the Italian side of the region, but Draghi's spelling alerts us that French speakers said it that way too - so the question is, how far up and west, and how old is it?
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Re: The origin of the name "Tarot"?

Postby mikeh on 27 Apr 2010, 18:48

To anyone reading this thread in future weeks or months: Be aware that it is the continuation of a thread called "The Tarot and the Tarasque" on the Unicorn Terrace, in which another theory for the origin of the word "Tarot" was explored and contrasted with a few other theories. (My view is that the thread shouldn't have been split, but rather retitled, as it became broader than it was originally, to something like "Tarasque, Taraux, tarhah, tarochus...". But I don't care, as long as people know that this one continues the other, which in fact so far dealt more broadly with the origin of the word "Tarot" than this one, and that after the date on which the thread was split, there may continue to be interesting things posted regarding the origin of the name "Tarot" on the other thread.)
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