The strange figures of CY

Hi friends, :)

Open this thread to analyze the figures of the CY.

Begin with the swords...

The king
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Who is this squire with his head so big? Is it a joke of Filippo Maria? ... :-? ...

The queen
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Whats mind "halmente"? ... :-? ...
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The amazons
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The maid
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Why here flowers are not white, but black? ... :-? ...
When a man has a theory // Can’t keep his mind on nothing else (By Ross)

Re: The strange figures of CY


Kaplan II, p. 28, reads a "li almente", which is interpreted as a corruption of "li alimente" and shall mean "nourish them" or "support them".
The servant of the queen of coins has an inscription "a bon droyt" in a similar manner, the queen of staves has a frontal view and two servants and no inscription, as far I see it, and the queen of cups is missing.


... :-) ... he seems so big, as he is clothed in armor, well, he's the king of swords and not the king of cups.


Re: The strange figures of CY

On the question of "Halmente", Andrea Visconti has recently put online excerpts from the catalog, written by Carlo Morbio of a major exhibition at the Accademia di Brera in 1872 ( One set of cards is a partial pack then owned by Duke Uberto Visconti, obviously identical to what is now called the Cary-Yale. I highlight in bold the relevant part, in Italian and my translation into English:
Disposte in modesta e lugubre cornice nera, con chiovi dorati, appunto come nelle lapidi mortuarie, 67, (e non 77, come dice il Catalogo nella 1.a edizione; errore, che venne corretto dopo), sono le Carte appartenenti al Duca Uberto Visconti, delle quali, 28 figurate sopra fondo d'oro, o d'argento, in parte rinnovato di fresco, in tono però troppo lucente. Rimarchevoli sono: il Giudizio Universale, colla leggenda, Surgite ad Judicium; una figura, armata di spada, ed avente ai piedi una donna con manto azzurro, portante la leggenda: Halmente (?); quella allusiva al matrimonio del giovane Duca, colla già matura Beatrice Tenda. Amore, cogli occhi bendati, scocca dall'alto due dardi infuocati sugli sposi, che presso al talamo si stringono la destra; né il pittore vi dimenticò il cane, simbolo di quella fedeltà, che fu ben presto dimenticata dall'ingrato ed incostante Duca; figura, con sottoposto paesaggio, cavaliere, e fiume con barca; l'Imperatore; il cavallo della morte. È questa la miglior parte del mazzo (6).

(Laid out in a modest and dull black frame, with golden choivi [Google translate says "crowns"] as in mortuary tombstones, 67 (and not 77, as the catalog says in the 1st edition, an error corrected later) are the cards belonging to the Duke Uberto Visconti, of which 28 are depicted on a gold or silver background, partly freshly renovated, but in tone too shiny. Those remaining are: the Universal Judgment, with the legend, Surgite at Judicium; a figure, armed with a sword, having a woman with blue mantle, bearing the legend: Halmente (?), alluding to the marriage of the young Duke with the already mature Beatrice Tenda. Love, with blindfolded eyes, sends two burning arrows at the bride and groom toward their heads; nor did the painter forget the dog, a symbol of that fidelity that was soon forgotten by the ruthless and inconstant Duke; figure with landscape, knight, and river boat; the Emperor; the knight of death. This is the best part of the deck.)
I have no idea what the connection between "Halmente" and Beatrice di Tenda might be. However Beatrice is logical for a Queen of Swords, because she often accompanied her first husband in battle, according to Wikipedia ( ... s_di_Tenda). If there is an association, it would seem necessary that it have been made before August of 1418, when Filippo charged her with adultery, having her hanged the following month (he seems to have married her to get her rather considerable fortune; that both Filippo's brother, the reigning duke, and Beatrice's husband were assassinated on the same day suggests to me a plan to that effect). How such an association might relate to a deck most likely commissioned by Filippo in the 1440s (and not when he was young, as Mobbio assumed) I have no idea.

Re: The strange figures of CY

lialmente = loyally, faithfully, sincerely

(it is an archaic form of lealmente)

For an example, see here: ... 8/mode/2up

p248 IX


Loyalty, according to Terence, is to have pure and perfect faith, and never show one thing for another.

And he applauded the loyalty of cranes, who have a king, whom they all serve most loyally; in the night, when they sleep, the king is in the midst of them where they can all surround him and there are always two or three on guard, and in order not to fall asleep, always have one foot on the ground, and one raised, and in their raised foot, they will hold a stone, so, if sleep should overcome them, the stone drops from their foot and wakes them. And this is all due to their great loyalty, that they would not fail one or another, who are in their guard.

lialitate = "lealtà" (loyalty); lialmente = lealmente (loyally)


edited to add: Andy Pollet notes that it is probably a corruption of lealmente:

I would say more likely an archaic dialect form, rather than corruption --
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 strange figures of CY

Thanks, Steve. However you did not deal with the orthographic issue: is it an "lia" or an "ha"? On the face of it, it looks more like "ha".

On the other hand, the "h" in "phote" (see the Andy Pollet site,, as the images won't paste here) has no gaps, and the "i" in "mia" looks somewhat similar to the corresponding element in the Queen of Swords.

But it is not quite the same, and there is also missing the diagonal line connecting "i" with "a" in "mia". Moreover, the initial vertical line, which you and Andy interpret as an "l" is not quite the same as the later "l" in the same word. Is there an orthographic explanation for these differences which can be demonstrated by means of other script of that time and place?

Added later: On the other hand again, at least "lialmente" is a reasonable approximation of a known word which also fits the context of the card and the commissioner, unlike "halmente". Also, there is the distinct probability that the orthography was "restored", often incompetently, on one or more of the decks. This is mentioned in the excerpts from the 1873 catalog in regard to the Brambilla deck.

Re: The strange figures of CY

As we both know trying to correct ocr, h and li are often confused by machines:

by humans too it appears!

It seems clear to me that it is lialmente - to you it appears as halmente -

If lets say we were trying to decipher some English instead of archaic Italian word, and we tried to read a script which we weren't sure was liable or hable - we would know it is 99-99% liable - for the simple fact liable is an actual common english word

In the same way the form liamente was a common form in the 15th century (we can evidence it in poems and novellos - including one from which shakespeare got his Romeo and Juliet) - halmente on the other hand, well -- do you have examples of halmente? What does halmente mean? Anything you want it to possibly, on the basis it actually means nothing, and as such can be manipulated to mean anything you want it to -- a mystagogues or occultists dream --

A major skill in deciphering archaic orthography surely must lay in being able to distinguish actual words from nonsense 'words' ?

I think any North italian person of the time (not necessarily a modern Italian, who may not recognize archaic forms*) seeing this would read liamente, not halmente, for the simple reason liamente was an actual word a literate person would have recognized, but halmente? (You tell me)

To insist on Halmente seems to me nothing more than mystagogie, which answers nothing - the simple and clear answer, and one quite consistent with context, is that it is lialmente - loyally
mikeh wrote: I have no idea what the connection between "Halmente" and Beatrice di Tenda might be.
Me neither, it appears far-fetched to me -- also, it is the Queen's maid that has the 'liamente' (loyally) inscription, not the Queen herself --


*I posed this question elsewhere and had Italians adamant it (lialmente) was not an Italian word -- until I posted period pieces and they realized it was an archaic form of lealmente --
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 strange figures of CY

Regarding the orthography, there is also the problem that what we see may not be the original writing. Here is Andrea's transcription of that part of the 1873 catalog:
Altre Carte, lavorate dallo stesso artefice pel Duca Filippo Maria Visconti, vennero esposte dal sig. Brambilla. Sono di minor pregio ed importanza delle descritte. Esse sommano a 48, delle quali nove soltanto figurate; fra le migliori notammo: la Fortuna; L’ Imperatore, ecc. Le Carte Brambilla sono disposte con certo sfarzo, in cornice di tartaruga e bronzo (Boule), e con pomposa iscrizione, in lettere capitali, e sfoggio di talchi luccicanti, rossi, verdi, ecc., insomma di tutti i colori dell'Iride. Le monete sono rappresentate dagli stessi fiorini d'oro, come nelle altre del Duca Visconti, ma egualmente ingranditi. I cartelli, che svolazzano attorno ai pali, alle merci, ecc., dovevano contenere certamente Leggende, od Imprese, come se ne vedono in alcune Carte, per esempio, in quella col: Phote mante (?) - A bon droit. Questa leggenda vedesi anche sul berretto del Duca Filippo Maria Visconti. In altra Carta pure: A bon droit. In altre Carte, ma principalmente in quella colla Biscia Viscontea, ed i nodi, troppo chiaramente è dato di travedere leggende, cancellate dall'imperito restauratore, il quale non sapendole né decifrare, né esattamente riprodurre, le cancellò di botto, oppure le trascrisse sbagliate. Alcune infatti di quelle leggende, non hanno significato alcuno, e perciò dovettero essere contrassegnate con ?.
And my translation:
Other cards done by the same artist for Duke Filippo Maria Visconti, were exhibited by Mr. Brambilla. They are less valuable and important than the described ones. They add up to 48, of which only nine are figured; among the major we noticed: Fortune, The Emperor, etc. The Brambilla cards are arranged with a certain splendor of turtle shell and bronze (Boule), with sumptuous inscriptions, in capitals, and showers of glittering, red, green talc, etc. of all the colors of the rainbow The coins are represented by the same gold florins as in the others for Duke Visconti, but also enlarged. The signs that float around the poles, the goods, etc., certainly had Legends or Devices [imprese] as are seen in some cards, for example, in the one with: Phote mante (?) - A bon droit. This legend is also seen on Duke Filippo Maria Visconti's cap. In another card as well: A bon droit. In other cards, but principally in that with the Biscia Viscontea [i.e. the Visconti Viper], and the knots, too, clearly the legends across were canceled by the imperious restorer, who, without knowing them or deciphering or reproducing them correctly, erased them, or transcribed them incorrectly. Some of those legends did not mean anything, so they had to be marked with ?. ...
This complaint only applies explicitly to the Brambilla, but it might also be true of the CY.

I am glad to see that he understood that the coins were not imprints of actual coins, a mistake made frequently since (including by Dummett, although he corrected himself later). I do not know what he means by the legend on Duke Filippo Maria's cap: if he is referring to the Emperor card, I see no legend. Perhaps it has disappeared.

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