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Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 06 Jun 2009, 15:34
by EnriqueEnriquez
EUGIM wrote:* For example,regarding the walking stick of LE HERMIT,I can see that it is red in all the decks except Noblet.

- I don t believe that red was the realistic colour depiction.
So why it is red ?
- Red is also the walking stick of LE MAT

- Red in medieval mind was a positive colour,full of energy.
Was a depiction of Christ blood,a symbolism of salvation.
Also the colour one of the last stage of Alchemy work,the rubedo.
Good morning Eugim,

In the tarot’s palette, red is also the closest color to brown, and the most likely to be used to represent a wooden staff. Working with a reduced palette due to printing costs force printers to be ‘creative’ with color. Each color had to serve more than one purpose.

There is something worth praising in the way the colors in each card are perfectly balanced. They are very well used within the composition scheme so we never feel any color disturbing the sense of balance in the cards. It has been argued that the colors in the tarot speak directly to the unconscious mind. This is an exciting -if slightly anachronistic- comment, but very hard to prove if we think on each color as a separate unit of meaning. Not only we would have to determine the exact percentage of each color in each card, so we can understand if the emotions the card elicits are consistent to the alleged psychological effect of the dominant color in it, but the research done on the psychological effect each color has is very superficial and non-conclusive in itself. Now, here is the interesting thing: while it is hard to go beyond the classical “never paint a room red” kind of thing, some research suggests that we react positively to complex but well balanced color schemes. In other words, while the psychological effect each color has may be as debatable as its symbolic meaning, there seem to be some consistency on the positive effect a harmonious color scheme have in us. I find interesting to think on the tarot’s colors in these terms. There is a formal coherence in the tarot colors that makes it very attractive to the eye, as attractive as any commercial artwork should be.

We know that one trick used to balance colors in a mosaic, for example, was to include small bits of -lets say- earth colors, in the sky, and some bits of sky colors on earth. Although this may be imperceptible at first sight, the overall effect is one of balance. I wonder if the unusual choice of certain colors in certain details of the cards -as in half of a horse’s cheek colored flesh, for example- wouldn’t be closer to the same kind of formal color balancing than to a cryptic symbolical wink at us.

Along with colors, the character’s posture is also pretty constant among decks. They all feel like reproductions, second-hand copies of a previous deck. Even if we assume that lots of thought was put in that ‘previous’ -as in original- deck, we have no way of knowing, for certain, if the decks we are seeing aren’t just mindless reproductions of conventions previously set by an ‘original’ card-maker. These card-makers may have just been copying what they saw in a previous deck. Call me crazy, but maybe they just wanted for their cards to sell. I understand that the ‘wise engraver’ theory is very popular among us, but in truth, one doesn’t have to be a PHD in comparative religions to print playing cards. I wish all master card-makers -or printers for that matter- were as wise and interesting as Jean-Claude is. That would make the life of graphic designers way easier! But even today that’s not the case.

All my Best,


Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 06 Jun 2009, 23:41
* Good night Enrique ...

- Precisely Jean Noblet is the only that shows the walking stick of LE HERMIT brown.
So not red.

. I know that the palette was very shorter but also too much deliberated and plenty subtlety than the today industrial colours.

Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 07 Jun 2009, 09:48
by SteveM
EUGIM wrote:*You brought here the example of Conver.
All the versions show that his shoes are yellow.
Barely Noblet are not along with Vieville.
Figure 4 has been taken to be Marian's gentleman-usher. Mr. Steevens considers him as Marian's paramour, who in delicacy appears uncovered before her; and as it was a custom for betrothed persons to wear some mark for a token of their mutual engagement, he thinks that the cross-shaped flower on the head of this figure, and the flower in Marian's hand, denote their espousals or contract. Spenser's Shepherd’s Calendar, April, specifies the flowers worn of paramours to be the pink, the purple columbine, ' gilliflowers, carnations, and sops in wine. I suppose the flower in Marian's hand to be a pink, and this to be a stock-gilliflower, or the Hesperis, dame's violet or queen's gilliflower; but perhaps it may be designed for an ornamental ribbon. An eminent botanist apprehends the flower upon the man's head to be an Epimedium. Many particulars of this figure resemble Absolon, the parish clerk in Chaucer's Miller's Tale, such as his curled and golden hair, his kirtle of watchet., his red hose, and Paul's windows corvin on his shoes, that is, his shoes pinked and cut into holes like the windows of St. Paul's ancient church. My window plainly exhibits upon his right thigh a yellow scrip or pouch, in which he might as treasurer to the company put the collected pence, which he might receive, though the cordelier must by the rules of his order carry no money about him. If this figure should not be allowed to be a parish clerk, I incline to call him Hocus Pocus, or some juggler attendant upon the master of the hobby-horse, as *' faire de tours de (jouer de la) gibeciere*," in Boyer's French Dictionary, signifies to play tricks by virtue of Hocus Pocus. His red red stomacher has a yellow lace, and his shoes are yellow. Ben Jonfon mentions " Hokos Pokos in a juggler's jerkin," which Skinner derives from kirtlekin ; that is, a short kirtle, and such seems to be the coat of this figure.”

end quote from:

MR. TOLLET'S Opinion concerning the MORRIS DANCERS upon his Window in:

The plays of William Shakespeare in ten volumes: with corrections and illustrations of various commentators
By William Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, George Steevens, Isaac Reed
Edition: 2. Published by Printed for C. Bathurst, 1778 ... #PPA425,M1

*Gibiciere, a jugglers bag, usually tied round his waist, other names include purse, budget, gipser.

”Some I have seen with their codpiece open, others play with a budget hanging before them, but all comes to one end. Hocus Pocus Junior, William Vincent.

Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 07 Jun 2009, 19:09
* Thanks for your quotation Stevie .
It is very useful.

- What about the red spot at the sacro zone,as we can see it on Conver ?

. If it is unnecessary,why this is there ?
NICOLAS CONVER-XIII-HERON.jpg (146.48 KiB) Viewed 3535 times

Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 07 Jun 2009, 19:22
by robert
And also on the blade on the Conver?

And at his throat, and the elbow, and knee, and wrist on the Dodal? Or on the handle of scythe?

Or on the whole handle on the Noblet?

Does the red only count on the Conver? And only on the Death card?

Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 07 Jun 2009, 19:27
* Yes Robert...

- I did not want to post Dodal not to be too " infamous "

-Your gift you will receive tomorrow.
I caught influenza !

Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 07 Jun 2009, 19:38
* His throat !!!

Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 07 Jun 2009, 21:54
by EnriqueEnriquez
EUGIM wrote:* His throat !!!
Hello Eugim,

Pointing colors in the cards amounts to NOTHING, unless you can provide a workable hypothesis of why are these colors there and some evidence to back that hypothesis up. You may feel that finding people who agrees with your intuitions without ever working any comprehensive hypotheses of why are these colors there, is enough consensus for you. But then we would be talking about this on a whole different level, for trusting an intuition or idea without evidence is called faith. Today I read a powerful phrase: “Religions derive less from doctrine than from story”. As long as a tale is appealing, we are willing to surrender to it because: “Religion consists less of a coherent body of dogmas or explanatory systems than of these memorably surprising stories that we then flesh out through our common intuitive ontologies.”* So far, you are providing a charming story. If that is enough for you, great, but since faith isn’t transferable, it would be very hard for a common understanding of the tarot’s colors to evolve from here, except on those charmed by your tale. The good news is that you will never be alone, for these are plenty!



* Both quotes come from “On The Origin of Stories” by Brian Boyd.

Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 08 Jun 2009, 00:09
by R.A. Hendley
Great quotes. Thanks for those EE.

Re: Regarding colours

Posted: 08 Jun 2009, 00:26
by EnriqueEnriquez
R.A. Hendley wrote:Great quotes. Thanks for those EE.

I can’t recommend the book enough.