Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

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Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby Ross G. R. Caldwell on 03 Apr 2012, 17:43

I think Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory needs to be discussed. There is no other way to get a "peer review" of this monstrosity. I think it is self-evidently ridiculous, but simply shouting "self-evident nonsense" is not an intellectually - much less scholarly - sound way to dismiss an argument, so let me try to point out why no one should take it seriously.

First, there is no evidence - none whatsoever - that the (so-called) Charles VI cards were made for Lorenzo de Medici, or any Medici. The penants on the Chariot, showing a design with seven dots, is the flimsiest basis on which to make this identification.

Second, the cards are numbered, and the highest number was "xx", the Angel. Whoever numbered these cards had at least 20 trumps in front of him. They were numbered after being painted, we know that because the numbers are written in ink over the border design. But we don't know when they were numbered. It could have been as soon as the paint dried, it could have been decades later. What is important is not to base your opinion of when it was done on what you wish to be true.

What we can say about the numbering is that it is consistent with a Florentine origin, i.e. a standard and Florentine, A, Southern order, with Chariot at 10, above Fortune at 9. They are numbered consistent with what they appear to be, which reinforces the idea that they ARE what they appear to be, a standard set of trumps. We can observe that the earliest known documentation of the A order, recently discovered by Thierry Depaulis, a poem called a "strambotto", of around the year 1500, lists the trumps in precisely the order of the Charles VI, with the exception that the cards place the Chariot higher than Fortune ("Rota", the Wheel). This latter ordering is the same as the other Florentine invention, the Minchiate.

A further detail is that the Emperor in the Charles VI cards is numbered "iii", 3, which means that there is only room for one other card beneath him before the Bagatto. The Strambotto also omits the Popess from its list.

The Popess is present in the Rosenwald sheet, and in early Tarots which are presumably derived ultimately from an invention in Florence. However, she is missing in the Minchiate and all Tarots south of Florence. Therefore, at some early point, Florence and those dependent on her design, dropped the Popess.

A reasonable guess at the dating of the numbering, therefore, will be that it is after they dropped the Popess, and after the strambotto, when they raised the Chariot to an even more exalted place above Fortune. Since it's merely a guess, "around 1500" is not bad, which might imply a decade or so either way.

It is of course possible that the Popess' removal and the numbering of the Chariot was sporadic and started earlier in some parts of Florence before becoming standard, so that the numbering of the Charles VI was earlier. But what is certain is that the numberer had a full standard set of trumps - excepting the Popess probably - in front of him, not 16.

Third, the cards are not chess pieces. The images on the cards don't represent chess pieces. There are only 16 "chess" cards - what kind of game is this? Cannibal chess, where you eat your own side?

Fourth, the coincidence of the surviving number of trumps -16 - is just that - a coincidence. Perhaps we should try to correlate them to the Geomantic figures instead, there are 16 if those as well. Perhaps Chess itself derived from Geomancy, or vice-versa, or there was a tradition of using Chess to make Geomantic divinations?

Fifth, the number of surviving cards needs no further special explanation than that 6 trumps were lost. 55 suit cards have also been lost. There is no way to measure the "probability" of such a proportion or ratio of trumps to suit cards, since every surviving Tarot of the 15th century (Sola Busca is not standard and may not be 15th century) is fragmentary and offers different ratios of surviving trumps to suit cards.

E.g. -

Brambilla, most of the suit cards, but only 2 trumps, survive.
Cary Yale, missing 9 suit cards, and probably half of its trumps.
Visconti-Sforza missing only two suit cards and two trumps.
Este - 8 trumps and 8 suit cards (perhaps this is the other side in the Chess match against the Charles VI set? Now we only need the board)
Catania - 4 trumps, 11 pips, survive.
Etc.

There are probably other points to be made, but these are just a few basic things that I wanted to point out before Huck defends himself and other people - hopefully - weigh in with better criticism, questions, etc.

Ross
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Re: Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby mjhurst on 03 Apr 2012, 19:21

Hi, Ross,

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:I think Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory needs to be discussed. There is no other way to get a "peer review" of this monstrosity. I think it is self-evidently ridiculous, but simply shouting "self-evident nonsense" is not an intellectually - much less scholarly - sound way to dismiss an argument...

It is not necessarily inappropriate when the nonsense is self-evident to most people.

It might be worthwhile to review the original chess/playing-cards thesis for comparison. I'll quote an old guy (George Beal, 1975) referencing an earlier old guy (William Chatto, 1848).

George Beal wrote:...the Chinese were making block prints long before we had invented printing in Europe, and the Indians probably invented chess, so why should playing-cards not have originated in the East too? ... Chatto, with some logic, connects the game of chess with playing-cards, for there are some parallels. Among versions of chess known in the East is a four-sided game, whose pieces include four kings, elephants, horses, and chariots, together with a number of foot-soldiers or pawns. Even the earliest European packs known had four kings, while the rest of the pieces from the four-sided game of chess could have formed the basis of the other court cards.

It would not even need to be four-sided chess. The parallel between competing groups, each representing social ranks, with each hierarchy divided between higher (court cards or the back row of chessmen) and lower (pip cards or the front rows of chessmen), is very simple and clear.

In dramatic contrast, there is no such parallel with the Tarot trumps. The trump hierarchy is solitary, unlike the warring colors of either chess or regular playing cards. The trump hierarchy is not broken into anything analogous to nobles and foot-soldiers, the way that both chessmen and suit cards are. The idea makes no sense on a very basic level -- it is, or should be, self-evident.

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:Third, the cards are not chess pieces. The images on the cards don't represent chess pieces. There are only 16 "chess" cards - what kind of game is this? Cannibal chess, where you eat your own side?

The subject matter of both regular cards and chessmen are of one sort, and we know their story. Each suit or side is a society, from minions through king. The subject matter of the trump hierarchy is nothing like that. Since the explorations of Moakley and Dummett we have had the opportunity to understand something of that subject matter as well. There is no question that the middle trumps are common allegorical subjects -- these are no part of either regular playing cards or chessmen. There is no question that the highest trumps include subjects like the Devil and Resurrection -- again common subjects, and again no part of regular playing-cards or chessmen.

This is, or should be, self-evident.

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:There are probably other points to be made, but these are just a few basic things that I wanted to point out before Huck defends himself and other people - hopefully - weigh in with better criticism, questions, etc.

There are as many points to debate as Huck wants to put out there, but I have no "better" criticism. The folly is so apparent as to beggar rational analysis: JUST LOOK! Look at a chess set. Look at the Tarot trumps. They are very different types of subject matter, and to claim that one might be based on the other requires ignoring the obvious and substituting "self-evident nonsense".

On the other hand, if Huck were to produce a contemporaneous chess set which includes pieces showing Love and Virtue and Fortune and Time and a Traitor and Death and the Devil and the heavenly signs of the Second Coming and the Last Resurrection, then there would be something to discuss. Or if he had an early Tarot deck that actually showed chess pieces. Let me link a couple decks of chess cards that are readily recognizable.

Collectible Vintage playing cards. CHESS
http://www.get-collectables.co.uk/colle ... -1741.html
Non-standard playing cards. CHESS.
Amazing deck of cards with small vignettes of the playing card in one corner and the chess images on the main part of each card, very beautifully designed, a special set of ns playing cards. 52 + 2 special Jokers + box all MINT

Icelandic Chess playing cards by Alf Cooke, 1942
http://www.wopc.co.uk/alfcooke/chess.html

Best regards,
Michael
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Re: Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby Huck on 04 Apr 2012, 15:22

... :-) ... Nice. I love critiques. Thank you.

As not every reader likely gets the context, I present the two graphics ...


Cary-Yale Tarocchi
Image
with a larger and readable version at ..
http://a-tarot.eu/pdf/cy-jpg.jpg


Charles VI Tarot
Image
with a larger and readable version at ..
http://a-tarot.eu/pdf/ch-jpg.jpg

The pictures were much work, so they are copyrighted.
They were presented inside ...
viewtopic.php?f=12&p=11263#p11263

Back to Michael and Ross ...
But you're late. The Chess Tarot theories weren't hidden. You had opportunity to attack already 4 years ago. And you're coming with two, so ,as if one alone wouldn't have been strong enough. And you claim, that they're might be much more in the background ... that's an old strategy of war to make the enemy believe, that whole armies would soon arrive.
Well, you look weak with such tactical games ... :-)

Let's not hide, that this a fight between two much larger theories, one assuming a sort of "Ur-Tarot" with the criteria of a 4x14+22 structure and with the 22 most often used motifs of Tarot ... and this theory says, that this deck existed within a short range of time before 1440, the date of the currently first known evidence for the use of the word Trionfi or ludus triumphorum or similar. This imagined deck should have - according this theory - influenced all other Trionfi decks, which followed. The major current propagandists of this theory are just Michael Hurst and Ross Caldwell, as I understand it, and it was earlier somehow also proposed a little more careful by Dummett, Decker and Depaulis in Wicked of Cards for c. 1450 in a very global manner, in this text just stating it in one sentence. Dummett later indirectly revised his theory, by giving the proposal, that the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-Tarocchi was made in the early 1460s and not in the early 1450s.

This (not the specified Dummett-theory, but the other) is a rather simple theory. It's proposal is made under the condition, that evidence for the existence of the game structure of 4x14+22 isn't known till the Boiardo Tarocchi poem. The production time of this poem proposed by others ranges between 1461-1494, my own suggestion is "around January 1487".

The alternative theory, which is attacked here, is based on the contradictions to the above noted theories. Each of the contradictions has evidence, is known or should be known by Michael and Ross, as it occasionally was presented here and at other places. In spite of these contradictions Michael and Ross stay at their position with arguments, which they better tell themselves, cause I likely wouldn't be able to present their ideas very precisely.

The major points of contradiction are:

--- the Michelino deck - very unusual and NOT the typical Tarot deck - was called by a speaker of the year 1449 a Ludus Triumphorum. With this statement nobody can be sure, what objects were addressed, when speakers used the word Trionfi or Ludus Triumphorum in 15th century. It seems clear, that it was a game (Ludus) and it is very probable and almost proven, that it was a game of cards, but details, what game structure was used (how much cards and how much trumps) and which basic motifs were used is very rare between the written documents.

--- the note in 1457 in the Ferrarese account books gives the information, that the produced two decks had 70 cards. The document is clearly related to Trionfi cards and it speaks not of 78 cards, which one would suspect, if the game structure would have had already traditionally 4x14+22 structure. The number of cards might be explained not in only one way, but the major explanations seems to be, that it had been a 5x14 deck, in other words a deck with 14 special cards. Another possibility is, that the deck was reduced in its number cards, and indeed in a later time of the Tarot development reduced decks appear, though not in the form of "70 cards". Decks with 70 cards should have been rare, but indeed a deck appeared (Master PW deck, c. 1500) and it had 5x14-structure. There's not much known from Master PW, but short before 1500 he had worked for the court of the Emperor, which knew an Italian Empress (Bianca Maria Sforza), which had an unusual intensive love for playing cards. So it might be, that Master PW imitated an Italian deck form, though rather individually.

--- the description of the Michelino deck by Martiano da Tortona gives us 16 trumps, likely totally 60 cards (16 trumps + 4 kings + 10 number cards), very different trump motifs (gods), different suit signs (birds). A similarity to the common Tarot motifs and game structure is neither recognized in the game structure nor in the motifs. The similarity to the Tarot game is only recognized by the very rudimentary game rules.

--- a not 100 % secure document is the note of 1.1.1441. It speaks of 14 pictures, which are made by the later Trionfi card painter Sagramoro, commissioned by the later Trionfi card commissioner Leonello as a present for a guest of the Ferrarese court, the later Trionfi card commissioner Bianca Maria Visconti, daughter of the commissioner of the Michelino deck (Filippo Maria Visconti), who likely also commissioned Brera-Bramblla Tarocchi and Cary-Yale Tarocchi. Well, it's not noted, that these pictures are playing cards, but the date of first of January had been traditionally used for gaming and gambling activities. So in this scene of proven Trionfi card commissioners, a Trionfi card painters and 1st-of-January gamblers it wouldn't be astonishing, if the not full described 14 picture objects were playing card related objects, and especially remarkable it is, that we have at the same Ferrarese court in 1457 "70 cards decks" with the probable deck form 5x14.

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

So far the contradicting information from known written Trionfi card documents. As far I know it, there's no other document (besides surviving cards) in the current moment, which adds anything of interest about the used deck structure in the time of begin of Trionfi development and the time of the Boiardo poem. If anybody knows of one, he/she is invited to add his/her observation.

So we can go to the decks and look, what we can get from them.

We do not get much of decks with only few pictures. Brera-Brambilla, the few Ferrarese cards of c. 1455 (one trump with a chariot) and the 16 Este cards with Aragon heraldic from c. 1475 don't allow to say much about the structure, also Goldschmidt (9 cards) and Guildhall cards can't be counted. Relevant deck structure information we have only from Cary-Yale Tarocchi (11 trumps), Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi (20 trumps, 14 of painter 1 and 6 of painter 2), Charles VI deck (16 trumps), the Alessandro Sforza cards (4 trumps; only included as they add to the knowledge about the Charles VI), then after it clearly the Boiardo Tarocchi poem with some cards of unknown date (no trumps, but with the security, that it had 4x14+22 structure) and then the Sola-Busca with the same structure - but both very different trump motifs and in the case of the Boiardo also different in the suits. The dating of Boiardo Tarocchi poem (my dating: 1487) is close to that, what is assumed for Sola Busca generally (1491). There is no discussion from my side about the point, that the deck structure 4x14+22 was reached in this time, so that's definitely that's not part of our battle, if I'm allowed to call this a battle.
We've a further large group of Visconti-Sforza cards similar to those of Rosental Tarocchi cards (23 cards, 6 trumps), the Bartsch card cards (13 cards, 5 trumps), the Victoria Albert cards (4 cards, 2 trumps) and some minor findings, which I leave aside, cause the ace of cups has the motto of Isabella d'Este, who took the motto in the year 1505 ... it seems, that these are later productions and so not of relevance.

So in essence we have a battlefield in the interpretation of ...

a. Michelino deck, cause this a full deck description (though it are not cards)
b. Cary-Yale deck
c. Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo deck
d. Charles VI plus some interpretaive help of Alessandro Sforza card

Did I forget anything? Please add it. Yes, I accept the Rosenwald Tarocchi as a possible rather early form of Minchiate, but it is insecure in this and it would complicate the discussion.

a. For your hypothesis you can't claim the Michelino deck ... it has 16 trumps. I can claim it for the Chess hypothesis, cause it has 16 trumps.

b. For your basic hypothesis you can't claim the Cary-Yale Tarocchi - it hasn't 4x14+22 structure, it has definitely 16 cards in a suit. Following the hypothesis of the 5x14-theory it seems logical to assume a 5x16-structure. The (possible) 5x16-structure makes it possible to claim it for my chess hypothesis. As the deck consists only of fragments, it's necessary to make a reconstruction suggestion. I suggest 14 of 16 cards, leaving 2 positions open, just by assuming, that, if it contained 4 virtues, it likely had 7 virtues totally. I didn't suggest anything for the last two positions, knowing, that there is more than one possibility of similar value.
Well, Dummett suggested, that there were 24 trumps (the usual trumps plus the 3 theological virtues), but this suggestion has not the advantage, that it relates to the earlier Michelino deck (well, there was a time, when Dummett didn't know about this deck) with 16 trumps and that it not relates to the 5x14-model (which Dummett didn't know in its full extension; t least I assume this). I judge it as the weaker proposal. Inside the IPCS there were viewing points of Ron Decker and John Berry, who - somehow - pointed to the model of 5x14, but I didn't realize a stronger relationship to that, what later followed by Trionfi.com.
There was a letter contact to Dummett in the mid 1990's, in which some basics of the theory were described, Dummett avoided an intensive contact and suggested, that the theory should be published and pointed to his personal duties as grandfather for his real grandchildren, which didn't allow him to invest too much time.
In the early time of Trionfi.com there was some intensive exchange with John McLeod, who in this time together with Dummett prepared their immense book about the Tarot games rules. So somehow Dummett might have been informed about our developments by this way. Dummett redraw his opinions about the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo and suggested as a new proposal for the two artists two Bembo brothers and as date a time from begin to the mid 1460s. So he was with his dating outside of the discussion caused by the 1457 document.
We got the article from John McLeod, and Ross and Michael were informed. Dummett didn't note Trionfi.com and not the 1457 document in this context. Well, one should consider, that the IPCS members were more of an older generation and hadn't a greater wish to have much internet access. Further they more lived in the "world of great men" with a lot of other duties, and hadn't the time to look for the younger generation of Tarot and playing card researchers. The world is, as it is, and one has to accept, that everybody limits his engagement to the part, what he's interested in.

c. The Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo deck ... Michael and (likely also) Ross and DDD in Wicked Pack of Cards claim this for their (partly different) theories. Well, there is a series of counter arguments based on the condition, that there were two painters (5x14 theory). The "two painters problem" made Dummett redraw his earlier suggestion and made him suggest a Bonifacio-Bembo brother as the second painter (Benedetto Bembo) ...

Image
Art (c. 1460) by Benedetto Bembo
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Categ ... etto_Bembo

... and just suggesting, that both worked at the same time (which is not part of the 5x14-theory).
Anyway, this is claimed by both sides (mine and that of Michael and Ross)

d. So we're at the final possible source, and this is that of the Charles deck.

So let's look at the arguments of Ross and Michael:

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:First, there is no evidence - none whatsoever - that the (so-called) Charles VI cards were made for Lorenzo de Medici, or any Medici. The penants on the Chariot, showing a design with seven dots, is the flimsiest basis on which to make this identification.

... :-) ... well, this is a somehow comical form to present the condition of a deck.
The first sentence explains "There is no evidence". The second sentence explains "there is a piece of evidence, but is is considered disputable". This is clearly a rhetorical maneuver to make a fact ignorable.

In summary there is something. And as there is nothing else in the deck, which looks like heraldry, one has to handle this with care, as heraldry often serves as an identification of the location and also the time of a deck. The "seven palle" arrangement is said to have been used before 1465, when the Medici changed to "6 palle" with one of the Palle filled with a French Lille.
One may consider this as a weak hint, but it's a hint and if one overlooks it, it would be definitely "bad research". Now just the card of the Triumphal Chariot is a very special card, often (likely) used to point to somebody ...
In some of the much later Marseille deck type it points to the designer of the deck.

Image
In this case to IN = Jean Noblet

In some early cards it's a female charioteer (Cary-Yale Tarocchi; Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi), and it likely points to the owner of the deck or the "celebrated person" - in the both mentioned occasions likely to Bianca Maria Visconti. That's not really a new idea.

The Charles VI has a young male charioteer.

Image

From other Trionfi decks we know definitely, that a lot of very young persons are involved as the "receiver" (that person, who got the deck at a celebration). There are the young brothers of Leonello (9 and 11 years old). There is Bianca Maria in the 1.1.1441 document (15 years-old). There is Galeazzo Maria liSforza kely as the honored visitor in Ferrara in 1457 (13 years old).
There is the general view of the time, that playing cards were accepted for young persons and for women, but not really accepted for elder men, who better should spend their time with the more interesting game of chess - if recreation was desired (recreation was an accepted value).
So ... the analysis of the symbol leads to a young man close to the Medici before 1465 (change of the heraldry).

Well, look for somebody ... Lorenzo de Medici has the advantage, that Pulci wrote him a letter, in which he mentioned Minchiate in 1466. He has the advantage, that he was the oldest of the young Medici, and all the elder Medici were sick. So he was educated as a person, who soon might become a person of great importance. The year 1463 has the advantage, that Lorenzo de Medici became 14 years old. It was a tradition, that persons were considered as grown-ups, if they became 14.
Lorenzo de Medici got the following picture, when he was born:

Image

The painter was Lo Scheggia ...
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=171021

Lo Scheggia appeared as a confirmed playing card producer in a recent article of Franco Pratesi in the years 1447-1449.
http://trionfi.com/naibi-on-sale
He painted on Cassone and he painted this figure.


An anonymous painted this rather special Temperance in the Alessandro Sforza cards:
Image

Following the assumption, that the deck was made for Lorenzo, is like shaking the right apple tree, and enough apples drop.

There are other reasons, why one should look to Florence in matters of the Charles VI, reasons, which are accepted by Ross. If one looks to Florence, the Medici are not far. If you call this, as you called it: "The penants on the Chariot, showing a design with seven dots, is the flimsiest basis on which to make this identification. " ... and you've a good feeling about it, then do so. But you're responsible for the stand, that you take ... that's a common law in history.

Ross wrote:Second, the cards are numbered, and the highest number was "xx", the Angel. Whoever numbered these cards had at least 20 trumps in front of him. They were numbered after being painted, we know that because the numbers are written in ink over the border design. But we don't know when they were numbered. It could have been as soon as the paint dried, it could have been decades later. What is important is not to base your opinion of when it was done on what you wish to be true.


I naturally don't doubt, that the cards are numbered, but as you state yourself: "Whoever numbered these cards had at least 20 trumps in front of him. They were numbered after being painted
My position is, that Minchiate might have developed parallel or short after 1463 with a first date in 1466 anyway, so relative short after the production of the Charles VI. The calculation says, that there was (likely) considerable movement in Trionfi card iconography in Florence just in these few years, so the contradictions in the added numbers must not say much about the original intentions of the deck itself. My analysis treats the deck as if the numbers wouldn't exist - the numbers are treated as a later addition. I'm interested in the original state of the deck.

Ross wrote:A reasonable guess at the dating of the numbering, therefore, will be that it is after they dropped the Popess, and after the strambotto, when they raised the Chariot to an even more exalted place above Fortune. Since it's merely a guess, "around 1500" is not bad, which might imply a decade or so either way.


Well, that's far away from the time, which interests me. I've currently no opinion to this point.

Third, the cards are not chess pieces. The images on the cards don't represent chess pieces. There are only 16 "chess" cards - what kind of game is this? Cannibal chess, where you eat your own side?

Fourth, the coincidence of the surviving number of trumps -16 - is just that - a coincidence. Perhaps we should try to correlate them to the Geomantic figures instead, there are 16 if those as well. Perhaps Chess itself derived from Geomancy, or vice-versa, or there was a tradition of using Chess to make Geomantic divinations?

Fifth, the number of surviving cards needs no further special explanation than that 6 trumps were lost. 55 suit cards have also been lost. There is no way to measure the "probability" of such a proportion or ratio of trumps to suit cards, since every surviving Tarot of the 15th century (Sola Busca is not standard and may not be 15th century) is fragmentary and offers different ratios of surviving trumps to suit cards.


Well ... the deck contains 16 trumps and one court card. I just think, that nothing was lost. In think, that somebody bought (or got as a present) just the full 16 cards trump-set (inclusive Fool) and then took one additional court card as a possible stylish design, how somebody else (another paying card producer) might attempt to form additional 56 pips according own wishes about heraldic details in it.
The deck was later in France ... let's assume, a French diplomat had been in Florence, saw this deck and found it beautiful, but wouldn't like to take the pips cause they had Florentine heraldic. Naturally he would have gotten, what he desired, and we find later trump set with 16 trumps + one court card as "example". The plan to paint the full 56-cards as pips never realized, but the bought deck somehow survived in a playing card collection. End of the story.
According this the deck wouldn't have been the "deck, that Lorenzo got to his birthday", but just a deck, which appeared in a series, and which had either greater or lesser similarity to a deck, that Lorenzo really got. We have another deck with great similarity to the Charles VI in the Alessandro Sforza deck fragment. Typically the Chariot card is altered (as discussed, the owner card), but also Temperance is changed for possibly "erotic reasons", and these erotic figures appear also at other place in the pips. Hermit and World are more or less identical, so the whole looks like an "adapted Florentine deck", adapted cause of very personal reasons. The card painters realized, what specific customers desired with no own ideological reasons about it, a common behavior of artists, one should mean.
We discussed this earlier, that hand painted serial cards could be easily altered to very personal cards, just by changing a few cards.

I don't know, how they played with the chess cards, how should I know this? Trionfi cards or Tarot cards are in their structure empty containers, they could be filled with any graphical-content-ideas, for instance funny animals as in the Animal Tarock, or with buildings of a city, or with military motifs, whatever the public or a specific customer desired. Or with the Boiardo Tarocchi poems or with Sola-Busca-heroes.

Chess motifs were a very popular topic in 14th century and also in 15th century. Mixing Chess ideas with Petrarca's Trionfi ideas seems to be that, what led to the later typical Tarot cards. It's very probable, that Petrarca's Trionfi motifs became popular just around the time, when we see the Trionfi cards words appear for the first time in documents.

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

... :-) ... well, Michael, old champion, to your parts ...

It is not necessarily inappropriate when the nonsense is self-evident to most people.

It might be worthwhile to review the original chess/playing-cards thesis for comparison. I'll quote an old guy (George Beal, 1975) referencing an earlier old guy (William Chatto, 1848).

George Beal wrote:...the Chinese were making block prints long before we had invented printing in Europe, and the Indians probably invented chess, so why should playing-cards not have originated in the East too? ... Chatto, with some logic, connects the game of chess with playing-cards, for there are some parallels.


"It is not necessarily inappropriate when the nonsense is self-evident to most people."

You might call anything "nonsense" and design this your statement as "self-evident to most people" - as far I remember, you more or less repeat yourself with this statement, what you earlier attempted to use in connection to the 5x14-theory. You weren't very successful with this, and you likely will be not successful this time.

The "original chess/playing card thesis" - if there is one - is likely from Johannes of Rheinfelden, relative contemporary to the begin of playing card development in Europe, and likely more in the state of an observer. A possibly second great name would be Breithaupt, who wrote about the question, and somebody with a similar spectrum might have been chess master Antonius Van Der Linde, who had also historical interests, and you would have your fun with him, if you would be able to read his German texts. In matters of sarcasm about the attempts of other history researchers he easily would beat you in 21 of 22 challenges ... :-) ... I would guess.

Nonetheless, in matters of a comparison between Tarot and Chess you wouldn't likely have to go far in the past, if you search the search the original chess / Tarot thesis, cause Johannes of Rheinfelden had been Pre-Tarot and Pre-Trionfi cards. Well, maybe somebody made indications, that there is a Tower in chess or other minor suggestions, I don't know.
And that we will find a contemporary 15th century statement, which says, "we invented the Tarot on the base of Chess and we made this in this described manner ... ", is not really probable.

In dramatic contrast, there is no such parallel with the Tarot trumps. The trump hierarchy is solitary, unlike the warring colors of either chess or regular playing cards. The trump hierarchy is not broken into anything analogous to nobles and foot-soldiers, the way that both chessmen and suit cards are. The idea makes no sense on a very basic level -- it is, or should be, self-evident.


Hm ... I don't speak of the Tarot deck with 5x14+22 structure (I think, this should be clear), I speak of decks with 16 trumps, and as it appears, the cards weren't numbered. In the discussion are Michelino deck (16 trumps), Cary-Yale Tarocchi (assumed to have had 16 trumps, not all trumps are known) and Charles VI (assumed to have had only 16 trumps; all are known). It's not about decks which followed later.
It seems, that you misinterpret my object.

There are as many points to debate as Huck wants to put out there, but I have no "better" criticism. The folly is so apparent as to beggar rational analysis: JUST LOOK! Look at a chess set. Look at the Tarot trumps. They are very different types of subject matter, and to claim that one might be based on the other requires ignoring the obvious and substituting "self-evident nonsense".



Well, we have have definitely chess allegories, as for instance the "Echecs Amoureux" by Evrart de Conty ... that's from c. 1398 and so relative contemporary to the period, which interests us. In his text Conty uses 16 gods and 32 other allegorical figures, which to a good part descended from the "Roman de la Rose". The group of the 32 figures are parted in a group of 16 for the figures of the female player and in 16 for the male player (each related to a defined role and chess figure) and the whole shall likely tell something about the communication between Men and Women. The text is old French, extremely long, difficult to read and it stayed a riddle to me, what he wanted with the 16 gods. It seems plausibly to assume, that the author somehow related them to the 16 figures at the chess board, but it stayed a riddle to me, which god belonged to which figure ... maybe it was somewhere stated in the text, but it's difficult to deal with such a text monster. It's just a practical difficulty. I don't have the text, I borrowed it from a library and I'd time limited access only. And it's a practical problem to copy 900 and more pages. And another problem to read them.

Well, you can observe the gods or the 32 better defined figures, and you might easily come to the conclusion, that these are NOT chess figures. But if an author in this old time, which was obsessed by chess enthusiasm, would make up his mind to define these gods or allegories as chess figures, well, the researching author of nowadays has to understand his idea from a long time ago and he can't judge the whole matter from his 21st century view.
There are two other chess allegories of relevance, one from c. 1470 and another from c. 1515, if I remember correctly, and both also deal with gods. And the 4th in this collection seems to be just the Michelino deck text ... and there, as we know, it relates to Tarot and its development. Well, the production of the text was followed by intensive critique in the literary cycles at the court of Valentina Visconti, which was the half-sister of Filippo Maria.

You find these texts and much more in my chess collection ...
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=460
... which is just my attempt to understand a little bit more from Chess history. That's indeed a complex world of its own. Perhaps after this you could do a little more, than just running around and crying "folly, folly, folly" in view of my proposal.

Well, thanks for your critique. I hope, I could enlarge your enjoyment.
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Re: Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby mjhurst on 04 Apr 2012, 19:08

Hi, Huck,

Huck wrote:But you're late.

We did this years ago. You just didn't pay any attention.

Huck wrote:The Chess Tarot theories weren't hidden. You had opportunity to attack already 4 years ago. And you're coming with two, so ,as if one alone wouldn't have been strong enough. And you claim, that they're might be much more in the background ... that's an old strategy of war to make the enemy believe, that whole armies would soon arrive.
Well, you look weak with such tactical games ... :-)

You missed the point. These "theories" are nonsense. When they are presented the first time, the third time, or the umpteenth time, one might hope that you would eventually figure out what a waste of your efforts they represent. They do not merit rebuttal -- they are devoid of any justification or purpose as well as lacking supporting evidence and argument, so it seems pointless to discuss them. You haven't raised a single question which your so-called "theory" explains; the basic idea is terrible as well as unnecessary; and the depths and intricacies of your fantasy is a bit creepy.

Given the Chess theory's inanity and lack of purpose, the only thing that might make it worth mentioning at all is that you continue to flog it, year after year. That apparently spurred Ross to discuss specific points. My own comments, on the other hand, were more a critique of his approach. From my POV there doesn't seem to be anything in the details you've presented that is worthy of debate. That is why I agreed with his point that your convoluted nonsense is self-evidently such.

Huck wrote:Let's not hide, that this a fight between two much larger theories, one assuming a sort of "Ur-Tarot" with the criteria of a 4x14+22 structure and with the 22 most often used motifs of Tarot ... and this theory says, that this deck existed within a short range of time before 1440, the date of the currently first known evidence for the use of the word Trionfi or ludus triumphorum or similar. This imagined deck should have - according this theory - influenced all other Trionfi decks, which followed. The major current propagandists of this theory are just Michael Hurst and Ross Caldwell, as I understand it...

First, let's get the "teams" right. On one side is you, with your decades-long quest to rewrite Tarot history. You've contacted every high-profile playing-card historian at one time or another, and made your sales pitch. I guess you've managed to confuse or mislead a couple published figures, but basically you've struck out, year after year after year. On the other side are the playing-card historians. That includes Ross, but it does not include me -- I'm a reader of Tarot history rather than a writer. I just follow the scholarly researchers.

What those researchers have found is that most early Tarot decks are representatives of what DD&D termed "archetypal Tarot". Those decks which are not archetypal are clearly variants of that design. Those are the facts to be explained, and there is a very simple explanation: early Tarot was pretty much like later Tarot. Simple, a real yawner, but it has great explanatory power.

There does not appear to have been any initial period of experimentation with different numbers of trumps, or whatever evolutionary hypothesis one may wish, followed by the invention -- decades later -- of what we now know as Tarot. The earliest surviving decks are fragmentary, but the fragments came from a very standard deck with 21 trumps and a Fool. This is, of course, just what would be expected: someone invented a game and it caught on. It was copied over and over, with mostly minor variations. It happened to become hugely popular, and some complete revisionings were commissioned, and eventually the game was so pervasive in the culture that there were literary appropriations and so on.

DD&D wrote:The Tarot pack has many different forms; rather than framing a definition that covers all of them, it is better to describe the archetypal version, which is also the best known. It is archetypal in that every other form that has existed from 1500 to the present day is derived directly or indirectly from it. It may or may not have been the original form. [Cary-Yale was an early exception.] But the Tarot pack had certainly been standardized, as regards the number and identity of the cards, by 1450: the archetypal form was that which resulted from that standardisation.

In its archetypal form, the Tarot pack consists of seventy-eight cards. There are four suits.... Each suit has ten numeral cards... and four court cards.... This makes fifty-six cards. The remaining twenty-two are all picture cards without any suit sign.... They depict a series of standard subjects... In several later forms of the pack, some of these subjects were changed.... But, when the pack was first standardised, the subjects of the trump cards were standardized, too: they were at first everywhere the same.

Simple, not merely plausible and consistent with the facts but exactly what one would expect.

Huck wrote:The alternative theory, which is attacked here, is based on the contradictions to the above noted theories. Each of the contradictions has evidence, is known or should be known by Michael and Ross, as it occasionally was presented here and at other places. In spite of these contradictions Michael and Ross stay at their position with arguments, which they better tell themselves, cause I likely wouldn't be able to present their ideas very precisely.

Your 5x14 Theory was debunked years ago. You had a page with a number (about a dozen as I recall) bits of supposed evidence. Most of it was irrelevant, nonsense, like comments about the E-Series model book which you still referred to as "trumps" and "cards". There were, IIRC, three actual points that made sense, and all three of them were more easily explained in other ways.

Huck wrote:the Michelino deck...

Is not Tarot. It doesn't matter how many years you say that it is, it is still not Tarot.

This is your response to critique of the Chess theory -- change the subject?

Huck wrote:the note in 1457 in the Ferrarese account books gives the information, that the produced two decks had 70 cards.

Same old arguments, answered years ago.

Huck wrote:the description of the Michelino deck by Martiano da Tortona gives us 16 trumps, likely totally 60 cards (16 trumps + 4 kings + 10 number cards), very different trump motifs (gods), different suit signs (birds). A similarity to the common Tarot motifs and game structure is neither recognized in the game structure nor in the motifs. The similarity to the Tarot game is only recognized by the very rudimentary game rules.

It is a very different deck, with different suits, different court cards, different type of trumps -- SUITED trumps -- no Fool, and so on, used to play a wholly different game.

It's not Tarot.

Look, Poker was substituted for Baccarat in the movie Casino Royale, and the movie did not suffer for the change. Moreover, both are games that use regular playing-cards. But no one would suggest that they were the same game. That would be exceptionally stupid. It would be exceptional anywhere but in the world of Tarot. In this case we have completely different decks used to play completely different games, but you claim they are the same game. They are not in the same family of games, even broadly speaking. Read Parlett as an example of how different types of games can be usefully categorized.

Huck wrote:a. Michelino deck, cause this a full deck description (though it are not cards)
b. Cary-Yale deck
c. Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo deck
d. Charles VI plus some interpretaive help of Alessandro Sforza card

Marziano's 16-Heroes deck is not a Tarot deck and was not used to play a Tarot game. This fact is not subtle, complicated, obscure, inferential, speculative, or otherwise debateable -- we have a description of the deck and the game. It's not Tarot.

Cary-Yale is a one-off luxury deck which was larger and more richly silvered and gilded than any other deck. To further enhance it's greatness, it was embellished with additional suit cards and additional trumps. As such, it is the most magnificent, lavish, and wonderful deck ever made. And it is clearly a variant of the archetypal design, with added suit cards and trumps. No further explanation is needed.

The PMB deck, more commonly called the Visconti-Sforza deck, is an example of the archetypal Tarot. Some cards are missing, and six trumps are replacement cards, painted at a later date. No further explanation is needed. The tragically mis-named Charles VI deck is just another example of an archetypal Tarot deck, also with missing cards. No further explanation is needed.

One of the great rules of Descartes' methods for problem solving was to work from the known to the unknown. Rather than starting with what we do not understand and bullshitting in whatever direction might entertain us, we begin with facts, evidentiary foundations, and build carefully from that point. We know what a standard Tarot deck consists of. We can start there. This is a template for an archetypal set of trumps. The exact order of the trumps in any of the three sections varied from one locale to another, and iconographic details varied, and the names used here are my own -- none of that matters. The individual subjects are sufficiently identifiable given the names used here, and although trumps were moved around within each of the three sections they did not (with one exception) move between them.



Given that pattern or template, we can examine partial decks like the Visconti-Sforza or Charles VI to see whether they fit that scheme.



Hmmm... guess what? Charles VI was a pretty standard Tarot deck that has lost six of its trump cards. If all we want to do is explain the facts, it isn't that difficult: it's a fragmentary deck. That is also what we find with other early decks -- some cards are missing. For example, the Visconti-Sforza deck is missing two trumps.



The Este deck is missing 14 trumps.



And so on. We could make up imaginative theories about any of these decks, and I'm sure that you have done so for every deck with missing cards, but what's the point? They're really old and the fact that some cards are missing does not require any special explanation. Moreover, to the extent that most of these old decks seem to fit the general pattern of standard Tarot, they confirm the archetypal Tarot view of the playing-card historians.

And, of course, none of them look anything like a set of chessmen. In both ways, they tend to confirm the views of playing-card historians and refute both the 5x14 Theory and any theory in which Tarot is based on Chess.

Huck wrote:For your hypothesis you can't claim the Michelino deck ... it has 16 trumps. I can claim it for the Chess hypothesis, cause it has 16 trumps.

The deck is not Tarot. The deck has nothing to do with Chess. So again, you are promoting self-evident nonsense. That is why, unlike Ross, I find it pointless to debate your endless detailed imaginings.

Huck wrote:So let's look at the arguments of Ross and Michael:

Michael wrote:It is not necessarily inappropriate when the nonsense is self-evident to most people. It might be worthwhile to review the original chess/playing-cards thesis for comparison. I'll quote an old guy (George Beal, 1975) referencing an earlier old guy (William Chatto, 1848).

George Beal wrote:...the Chinese were making block prints long before we had invented printing in Europe, and the Indians probably invented chess, so why should playing-cards not have originated in the East too? ... Chatto, with some logic, connects the game of chess with playing-cards, for there are some parallels.

You might call anything "nonsense" and design this your statement as "self-evident to most people" - as far I remember, you more or less repeat yourself with this statement, what you earlier attempted to use in connection to the 5x14-theory. You weren't very successful with this, and you likely will be not successful this time.

You've ignored my point, as usual.

One thesis is clearly meaningful. There are sound reasons for comparisons.
The other thesis lacks that sort of basis.

Compare and contrast.

Huck wrote:The "original chess/playing card thesis" - if there is one - is likely from Johannes of Rheinfelden, relative contemporary to the begin of playing card development in Europe, and likely more in the state of an observer. A possibly second great name would be Breithaupt, who wrote about the question, and somebody with a similar spectrum might have been chess master Antonius Van Der Linde, who had also historical interests, and you would have your fun with him, if you would be able to read his German texts. In matters of sarcasm about the attempts of other history researchers he easily would beat you in 21 of 22 challenges ... :-) ... I would guess.

Yes, there are others -- so what?

Have you completely lost your mind, just rambling pointlessly?

Whether you cite Brother John or whomever, the comparison is between regular playing-cards and Chess, NOT between the Tarot trumps and chess. The one is very natural and obvious while the other is nonsensical.

So you ignore the contrast I presented, as well as the arguments I made.

The proper response to such mindless "theories" is simply to point out their vacuity. They answer no questions, and they are absurd on their face -- you got nothin'.

Michael wrote:In dramatic contrast, there is no such parallel with the Tarot trumps. The trump hierarchy is solitary, unlike the warring colors of either chess or regular playing cards. The trump hierarchy is not broken into anything analogous to nobles and foot-soldiers, the way that both chessmen and suit cards are. The idea makes no sense on a very basic level -- it is, or should be, self-evident.

Huck wrote:Hm ... I don't speak of the Tarot deck with 5x14+22 structure (I think, this should be clear), I speak of decks with 16 trumps, and as it appears, the cards weren't numbered. In the discussion are Michelino deck (16 trumps), Cary-Yale Tarocchi (assumed to have had 16 trumps, not all trumps are known) and Charles VI (assumed to have had only 16 trumps; all are known). It's not about decks which followed later. It seems, that you misinterpret my object.

Your "object" is a figment of an over-cloistered imagination. These are fantasy "Tarot" decks that exist only in your mind. One is not Tarot at all, while the others have simply lost cards. You have nothing -- no evidence for a 16-trump Tarot deck, and no evidence of a Tarot deck with trumps that represent chessmen.

Image

Michael wrote:There are as many points to debate as Huck wants to put out there, but I have no "better" criticism. The folly is so apparent as to beggar rational analysis: JUST LOOK! Look at a chess set. Look at the Tarot trumps. They are very different types of subject matter, and to claim that one might be based on the other requires ignoring the obvious and substituting "self-evident nonsense".

Huck wrote:Well, we have have definitely chess allegories, as for instance the "Echecs Amoureux" by Evrart de Conty ... that's from c. 1398 and so relative contemporary to the period, which interests us. In his text Conty uses 16 gods and 32 other allegorical figures, which to a good part descended from the "Roman de la Rose".

And... what?

Huck wrote:Well, you can observe the gods or the 32 better defined figures, and you might easily come to the conclusion, that these are NOT chess figures. But if an author in this old time, which was obsessed by chess enthusiasm, would make up his mind to define these gods or allegories as chess figures...

How would we know?
--- The author would make it known.
Did He?
--- Yes. That's how we know.

You did not figure out something mysterious. The author TOLD you it was related to Chess. The designer of Tarot told you what the trump cycle was about, too. You just can't read it.

Huck wrote:Perhaps after this you could do a little more, than just running around and crying "folly, folly, folly" in view of my proposal.

I do not think that such nonsense merits more.

Your 5x14 Theory arguments were addressed in detail years ago, and they have not gotten any better. Your Chess "arguments" are nonsensical -- folly wrapped in folly.

Best regards,
Michael

(Edited to add VS and Este graphics and code for pop-up images, and a little text around them.)
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.
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Re: Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby Huck on 06 Apr 2012, 13:32

mjhurst wrote:Hi, Huck,

Huck wrote:But you're late.

We did this years ago. You just didn't pay any attention.

Huck wrote:The Chess Tarot theories weren't hidden. You had opportunity to attack already 4 years ago. And you're coming with two, so ,as if one alone wouldn't have been strong enough. And you claim, that they're might be much more in the background ... that's an old strategy of war to make the enemy believe, that whole armies would soon arrive.
Well, you look weak with such tactical games ... :-)

You missed the point. These "theories" are nonsense. When they are presented the first time, the third time, or the umpteenth time, one might hope that you would eventually figure out what a waste of your efforts they represent. They do not merit rebuttal -- they are devoid of any justification or purpose as well as lacking supporting evidence and argument, so it seems pointless to discuss them. You haven't raised a single question which your so-called "theory" explains; the basic idea is terrible as well as unnecessary; and the depths and intricacies of your fantasy is a bit creepy.

Given the Chess theory's inanity and lack of purpose, the only thing that might make it worth mentioning at all is that you continue to flog it, year after year. That apparently spurred Ross to discuss specific points. My own comments, on the other hand, were more a critique of his approach. From my POV there doesn't seem to be anything in the details you've presented that is worthy of debate. That is why I agreed with his point that your convoluted nonsense is self-evidently such.


Well, the case is, that I use detailed documents to justify my thesis. The documents are named in my post.

Your thesis ignores a lot of my noted documents, just using two of them, Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo-Tarocchi and Charles VI Tarot.
In contrast to my interpretation of these both you have another interpretation, that of "lost cards".

Well, as this is a common feature in playing card findings, you seem to argument, that there is a rule (indeed I remember, that Ross once used this argument), that surviving decks of this early time MUST have lost cards. Well, this was an absurd hypothesis - only explainable by a momentary state of some blindness in logic. Findings can have the state "complete as the original designer made them" or the state "complete minus the number X for lost cards", whereby X must be at least lower than the number Y (which shall be the number of cards, which the original designer really made). If X = Y, you wouldn't have a finding. If X higher Y, you would have the impossible state, that there are more lost cards than the designer made.
... even if you would have 100 findings, which plausibly could be described as "has lost at least one card", you couldn't predict with 100% security, that the 101. finding wouldn't be complete.

Playing Card research means, that you look at the cards of findings, and you can build ideas about the original state of the deck. Let's assume, you find the Hofämterspiel. You see 48 cards, all sortable to 4 suits, all sortable to 4-cards-groups (1-10, Kings, Queens). This suggests a 4x12-deck. But naturally, it isn't impossible, hat a 13th 4-cards group existed once and that somebody recognized these 4 cards as "nasty" and did throw them away - for instance. Research means, that you realize even these "very unlikely" possibilities. But of course, the natural result and comment to the Hofämterspiel is "(very likely) complete" and "4x12-deck". Nonetheless, one has to see, that (likely, at least at the base of known documents, starting with Johannes of Rheinfelden) the more common state of decks in 1455 were 4x13-decks and not 4x12. Later, as playing card research has found, 4x12-decks weren't rare in Germany (loosing the Aces).

But, one meets also cases like this:

Image
http://www.zeno.org/Kunstwerke/B/Woensa ... +und+Damen

8 cards made by Anton Woensam (Cologne) c. 1535, as "Ergänzungskarten zum Schäufeleinschen Kartenspiel: Asse und Damen" (additional cards to the Schäufelein deck, Aces and Queens)

The Schäufelein deck (Nürnberg) had a 4x12 structure, but Woensam in Cologne (with its many trading and also religious connections to Italy) thought it (as it seems) appropriate to offer also decks of the Schäufelein-type in 4x14 structure. This is especially remarkable, as the only surviving 5x14-deck (Master P.W. deck) outside of the world of the Trionfi cards also was related to Cologne. As there are not much old playing cards findings around the region of Cologne, it might actually be, that there had been a special Cologne style, which preferred 14 cards suits.

This are two examples, where you have "rules" ("old decks have 4x13-structure"; "German decks had 4x12structure"), which in the real practice of playing card production didn't count, as each producer followed ideas, which he thought just "right for the market". Actually these "rules" are not rules, but just remarks and suspicion of earlier playing card researchers, who all were in a state, where information is limited. Well, and we, you and me and others, are in a similar state, also with limited information, possibly a little improved, as we're later then the earlier researchers and as we fought about especially early circumstances with some more intensity than others, I would say.
Well, and we have internet, which simply means "very improved research conditions". About Dummett, your special hero in playing card research, I've heard, that some Italian researchers were disappointed, that he was (in their opinion) weak in general Italian history of 15th century. Well, nobody can be good and splendid in all fields of human research, and everybody is hampered by the condition with limited life and research time. Dummett field's of research were great, crossing a few centuries and beside that he filled a lot of other duties. Requesting that Dummett should have done intensive research on early playing card time as we've done, is too much. Dummett himself stated, that a lot of his experienced judgments were from Sylvia Mann, and Sylvia Mann is honored for extensive researches on standard decks - and also for the condition, that she focused the attention of her "pupils" or better followers on this theme. Well, the idea of standard decks you can forget in situations, where the only surviving decks are non-standard and handpainted.

So ... research means, that you look at given objects, and you build ideas about them. If you observe the fact in the case of the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi, that it was painted by two researchers, you've to explore the possibilities, if this might mean something. You must do this careful, in the case, that you've the desire, that your research should be called careful. Naturally you can finish with "I didn't research this possibility carefully, cause it seems to me, that the explanation 'these cards were replaced, cause they were damaged' seems to be good enough."
But if you don't observe the possibility, that there might been a 5x14-deck, you're blind. As a good researcher you've to note this possibility ... you might still believe, that the lost-and-replaced hypothesis should be the more probable solution.
Well, as a careful researcher you should also note, that the 14 special cards of the first painter appear at 13 of 14 "first cards of the traditional row" (= cards 0-13) ... if you overlook this, your research can't be called careful.

You've to think of probability calculation in this case ...how big is the probability that more or less just the last cards in the row were "damaged and replaced". The situation of the probability calculation is so, that you can't assume in "good believe", that just these cards were damaged in an accidental manner. The accident, which led to the loss of just these cards must have been very special - anything else is just improbable ... perhaps similar improbable, as if the Hofämterspiel would have been in reality a 4x13-deck and not a 4x12 deck.

Well, somebody sorted the cards, crossed a bridge, he was careless, and just the top cards dropped in the water. So they had to be replaced. Or: Somebody wished to steal a few cards (he couldn't take all, cause this would have been noted) and he just grabbed a few cards from the top (the cards should have been sorted, naturally, more or less) and made them disappear.
The sad owner had to replace them. End of both stories.

Well, such stupid accidents happen, and indeed one has to consider it as a possibility. A "sorted loss" is possible.

But naturally the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi is placed in a world of other documents. If in this accompanying world appear notes like "70 card produced in Ferrara 1457" and "14 objects painted for Bianca Maria Visconti 1441" and "no definite note about the game structure 4x14+22", this skips the possibility value of "lossed-and-replaced" just to lower than 1 %.

So the 5x14-theory is rather sure. You may throw with old eggs (well, it's Eastern) like "but Dummett has said" or "DDD has written" and "logic demands to conclude from later states to earlier states" and "archetypical decks", but very likely you cannot avoid, that some of the better researchers understand the idea, though - agreed - it's naturally a little bit complicated and not easy to adapt with all its consequences.

And you can make the dance of the HB-Männchen (an older German advertisement, which became a proverb) for another few rounds ...

... but, alas, I think, you once will give up on it.

I agree, that the Chess Tarot hypothesis is weaker than the 5x14-deck hypothesis. But, anyway, the gap is given between the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi (at it's start a 5x14 deck as described) and the Boiardo Tarocchi poem (first evidence of 4x14+22), so suggestions and brainstorming should be done to explore the picture and if the world is lazy enough not to produce them, we fill the gap ... at least with ideas.

Huck wrote:the Michelino deck...

Is not Tarot. It doesn't matter how many years you say that it is, it is still not Tarot.


hm ... all these decks from 15th century are not "Tarot", as the word was invented later. My object is playing card development, which developed to Tarot, I don't know, what your object really is. Maybe the so-called "archetypical deck", which seems to be part of a "I believe" - djungle.
I don't talk about this deck type, as long it doesn't really exist with some evidence. It's your hypothesis, that it existed at specific times in 15th century, but it isn't mine. You treat it, as if it is a doubtless fact then ... come on, what we do discuss about? We discuss the time of specific objects. Ross claims, it should have existed in 1440, and I state, that the structural form existed in 1487 (but evidence is not clear for a combination of structural form with the specific 22 motifs for this time).

The decks of Filippo Maria Visconti are claimed to have led to the Tarot development, so it would be careless research, if you overlook the Michelino deck. In our research we cared for much more biographical details of Filippo Maria Visconti, not only his decks, and this is naturally a correct and useful strategy.
I think, it's not the right decision to attempt just at this point the HB-Männchen style ... :-)

Cary-Yale is a one-off luxury deck which was larger and more richly silvered and gilded than any other deck. To further enhance it's greatness, it was embellished with additional suit cards and additional trumps. As such, it is the most magnificent, lavish, and wonderful deck ever made. And it is clearly a variant of the archetypal design, with added suit cards and trumps. No further explanation is needed.

Well, again, the deck called "archetypical design" has no evidence, that it existed at the given time, so it's difficult to call the Cary-Yale a variant of it. The Cary-Yale is old and it might have been the prototype, which later was modified in different steps and became that, what you name "archetypal Tarot".

As "archetypical design" I would understand a mother deck, which served indeed as the first composition of the 22 elements. As this is not proven for any of the extant early decks and the whole likely appears very late, this terminus get's in the discussion the role of a not proven claim, securing for itself a merit, which it doesn't have. At least, as I interpret the term "archetype", there's a contradiction.
This somehow is like this idea of an American president, that cars were invented in America. As far we can know it, this wasn't the case.

...

One of the great rules of Descartes' methods for problem solving was to work from the known to the unknown.

Good idea. Let's start with the Michelino deck. That's what we know for the situation from before 1425. For discussing a deck with 4x14+22 structure we likely have to go to the Boiardo poem and possibly 1487. For a hypothetical deck of 1435-1440 with an assumed 4x14+22 structure we've to go to the "unknown" ... but Descartes suggested to leave this aside.

Rather than starting with what we do not understand and bullshitting in whatever direction might entertain us, we begin with facts, evidentiary foundations, and build carefully from that point. We know what a standard Tarot deck consists of. We can start there.

Hm ... and what shall we do there in this unknown space and time? A little bullshitting, that green is green and red is red, and that the grass is wonderful today?
Don't you realize, that you suggest, that anybody should start thinking about Tarot History inside your favored vision instead just in the facts of historical development? What's then the difference between your method and for instance that of Foolish's favor?
Tarot History reality is so cruel, it has as early decks a Michelino deck with it's contradictions, a Cary-Yale with it's contradictions, a Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo with it's contradictions and a Charles VI with it's contradictions, and none of them pleases the mind of Michael J. Hurst as an ideal starting point to discuss the relevant history.

Well, you make this to explain, that most of the earlier motifs appear in the later "ideal 22 special cards version", so that one might assume a hypothetical mother deck version, which already had these 22 elements. As a didactic approach somehow justified, but starting it with Descartes methods from the unknown to the known evokes some possible jokes.

Descartes looks at a soccer game, only the last minute and unluckily Descartes doesn't know what a soccer game is. He sees 22 men on the field, and they're clothed differently. He comes to the conclusion, that these are the players, as he had heard, that these would be 22. He finds a list with the names of the players, again 22. Wonderful, this seems to be soccer, indeed. He compares the list names with the names, that he finds on the backside of the players. Curiously, some names don't appear on his list. Descartes is confused. Actually he thought, that soccer would be a game of two teams against each other, but he discovers 5 different types of players. 1 is yellow, 1 white, 3 black, 9 red, 8 green. Descartes' minute is over and Descartes is confused again. He remembers "cogito, ergo sum" and he's happy, that he has not to solve all riddles of the world.

Well, Descartes wasn't informed about the 3 referees and the two goal keepers, and that the referee's had meanwhile given 3 red cards. Also Descartes couldn't know, that each team could exchange 3 players, so his list of players was naturally not updated, so some names weren't on this list.
Descartes should have invested 90 minutes. It's not clear (actually it's rather doubtful), that he would have discovered all and everything about soccer in these 90 minutes, but he might have gotten a little bit more overview.

And for Tarot History one also needs a little more than 90 minutes.

There are 3 decks, which somehow relate to the number 16.

Michelino deck - obviously. It indirectly is also related to Chess
Cary-Yale - it has 16 cards per suit and it might have been a 5x16 deck
Charles VI - as it is, it has 16 special cards.

I didn't invent these conditions. They are objectively given.
If you declare all this observations to nothing, the Michelino deck to meaningless, the possible 5x16 deck to fiction and the 16 Charles VI cards to just an accidental feature, do what you want, it's your right to define "Michael's careful research methods".

... it still stays, what they are: observations. If you prefer to overlook them ... it's your problem.

... :-) ... maybe at least the HB-Männchen finds your amusement ...

Have a nice day
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Re: Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby mikeh on 17 Apr 2012, 00:00

I have a question for Michael. When Huck said:
the note in 1457 in the Ferrarese account books gives the information, that the produced two decks had 70 cards.

You replied.
Same old arguments, answered years ago.

Could you elaborate on this reply? I am happy to read old answers to old arguments; you don't have to write anything new; just give me a link. I can imagine replies, but it would be better if I knew what your reply actually is. I think I read it once, but I've forgotten even where it is. And possibly others reading this might like to know, too.
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Re: Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby Huck on 17 Apr 2012, 00:44

Michael has the justified argument, that the deck might be a shortened deck, which left 2 number cards aside (for instance 2+3 and or 8+9). This would make 78 - 2x4 = 70.

That's naturally a possibility.

In my opinions the chance for this possibility would be higher, if there wouldn't be other indications of 5x14-structure in early decks.
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Re: Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby mjhurst on 17 Apr 2012, 02:05

Hi, Mike,

mikeh wrote:I have a question for Michael. When Huck said:
the note in 1457 in the Ferrarese account books gives the information, that the produced two decks had 70 cards.

You replied.
Same old arguments, answered years ago.

Could you elaborate on this reply? I am happy to read old answers to old arguments; you don't have to write anything new; just give me a link. I can imagine replies, but it would be better if I knew what your reply actually is. I think I read it once, but I've forgotten even where it is. And possibly others reading this might like to know, too.

You bet. The sales pitch has been going on, on Lothar/Huck's sites and the Tarot fora, since 2003, and I posted the first detailed reply in 2004.

I'll track down some links and post something tomorrow, but I'll make a general point here. Regardless of how fascinating or charming they may seem, neither the 5x14 Theory in general, nor the nonsense about Chess in particular, answer any questions about Tarot history. There is no question addressed which is not better explained without these elaborate inventions -- they are wholly superfluous.

That is why I disagree with Ross' approach of disputing each new bit of fantasy in detail. IMO, there is no there there. (Apologies to both G. Stein and Oakland.) On the other hand, I very much appreciate the fact that Ross does spend the time doing this usually thankless task.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.
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Re: Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby mjhurst on 17 Apr 2012, 17:21

Hi, Mike,

mikeh wrote:I am happy to read old answers to old arguments; you don't have to write anything new; just give me a link.

There are some links to old stuff, going back to 2003, in the bottom section of this post.

The 5x14 Theory
http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2012/04 ... heory.html

Those are surely not all the relevant discussions, but some of the main ones. However, as I attempt to explain in the first part of the post, there is IMO little to be gained by examining in detail each claim about the lavish frills decorating the Emperor's new clothes. Only fools and charlatans marvel at such imaginary visions and embellish them with their own details. Rude dismissal as self-evident nonsense is the best course.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.
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Re: Huck's "Chess Tarot" theory

Postby mikeh on 17 Apr 2012, 20:48

Thanks for the quick reply, Michael. Looking at the bottom of your link, the only link that looked relevant was "Chess as a factor...". Searching the word "70" on that thread and reading a bunch of posts, all I found, relating to the 70 card packs in Ferrara, were posts by Huck. Oh, well.

So now I have a question for Ross, regarding the number of cards in the Charles VI and in the ur-tarot. You assert that the Charles VI style of tarot is later than the BAR style, and that therefore we can't use the number 20 on the Charles VI to say that the BAR added a trump that was not there earlier; rather the reverse is true, the Charles VI removed a trump that was there earlier. (I say "style" because you don't assert that the BAR itself is from c. 1440.)

In the Bologna thread, you seem to have two arguments for your position.

First, the Charles VI comes from Florence, while the BAR is from Bologna, and Bologna had a more conservative tradition than Florence.

I see two problems with this. First, the politics of Bologna changed radically when it was taken over by the Papacy in 1506 (according to Wikipedia; however it seems to me that the fighting continued a few more years), with no stirrings until the 18th century (Wikipedia says 1798; however there were stirrings tarot-wise in the middle of the 18th century, with the cartomancers there; perhaps there were political stirrings then, too, I don't know). In any case, there were at least 250 years of stultification. Even the University was very conservative, as far as I can tell. Before then, under the Bentivoglio, Bologna was not conservative at all, including its University (Platonism flourished, at least in some departments). The time period in question is precisely the time under the Bentivoglio. Hence we cannot generalize from later centuries to the 15th. Unfortunately, in part due to the wholesale destruction of Bentivoglio property at the time of the regime-change, we know little about card production under the Bentivoglio.

The second problem is that we can't say, even with any probability, where the Charles VI-style comes from, between Bologna and Florence (unless, to be sure, you buy Huck's arguments). Andrea Vitali argues, in his essay "The order of trumps" (http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=221&lng=eng) that the Charles VI itself might well have been done in Bologna. I think his argument has merit even if we don't accept his theory of the very early (c. 1410!) Bolognese origin of the cards. Considering the close ties between Bologna and Florence under the Bentivoglio, I don't see how we can say one way or the other where the Charles VI was made, and what city's style it reflects, if the choice is between Bologna and Florence.

Your second argument is that the card that is missing from the Charles VI is the Popess, and if there is a Pope there would probably originally have been a Popess, because they go together, as the Pope and the Church. But we have no idea if the idea of personifying the Church in the tarot sequence occurred to anyone c. 1440 (unless, of course, you buy that part of Huck's chess analogy). It is not obvious; it isn't in the "Mantegna" sequence, for example. The Popess doesn't for sure occur until the PMB, which is clearly later, and whether it personifies the Church there is another issue.

It is true that the Rosenwald has a Popess, and the Rosenwald is derived from Florence or Bologna. But that is after the PMB and could have been influenced by it. "Yes," I can imagine the Rosenwald's maker saying, "Let's have a figure representing the Church." Others, in this scenario, would have chosen not to accept that influence, perhaps because of where it was placed, next to the Bagatella, which might have seemed to them to imply, unacceptably, that the Church was a deceiver, or that the card represented a deceiver like Pope Joan.

The BAR, of course, has no numbers and none of the early trumps at all. So it is no help.

So I am left with nothing, when it comes to these decks (Charles VI, BAR, Rosenwald), as indicating an ur-tarot with 22 trumps. What do you say, Ross?

I will deal with the chess theory next. However this thread is offering several opportunities for further clarification on points that have been bothering me, and I needed to get straight on the Charles VI's numbers first.
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