Guilds, plays and tarot

#1
I've mentioned a passing interest in Miracle Plays for years, but I've not really pursued it. I admit to not even having read Moakley, (yes, I'm embarrassed).

In class we are discussing Medieval Towns, and tonight's subject was on Guilds and Miracle Plays, and of course, I was thinking of tarot through much of the discussion. At one point the lecturer showed a French image from the mid-1400s of a play, the subject is The Martyrdom of St Apollonia, by Jean Fouquet [click to enlarge it]:



Well, of course the first thing i saw was our Fool with his pants hanging off, and then I noticed that the torturers who are pulling out Apollonia's teeth were rather interesting as well, especially since we seem to be finding an iconographic connection between the Magician and Dentists (Appolonia is patron saint of dentists, her teeth being pulled/smashed during her torture). Then I noticed the Devil next to the Fool, and what looks like angels and a hellmouth in the background reminding me of Judgement.

Isn't this a wonderful image?

I still wonder about a connection between tarot and these types of plays. And yes, I know, I need to read Moakley. But until then, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject, or at the very least, your thoughts on this image.

cheers,
robert
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: Guilds, plays and tarot

#2
Maybe Miracle plays were derived from Tarot :D Just Joking with ya!

For a year I was obsessed with this connection of Funzione of early Television dramatics in Italy.
One thing in particular...
Thus the practice of representing the Deity in the costume of ornaments of a Pope or a Bishop, which appears to us an absurdity or an irreverence, arose from such a personage being generally represented, on the rude stage of the miracle-play, in a dress which was then associated with ideas of the highest reverence: and the innumerable anecdotes and apologues representing evil spirits as baffled and defeated by a very moderate amount of cunning and dexterity may easily have been generated by that peculiarity of Medieval Christianity which pictures the wicked spirits, not as terrible and awful beings, but as mischievous goblins whose power was annihilated at the foundation of our faith. (from Drama in the Christian World)
So.... whereas in Italy the long boring processions were enlivened with skit and farce; a popular practice from Roman times- the main humour was about sex and digestion. So your Fool with his pants down and *Peeing or farting in the face of a Saint was not uncommon. As you know the Troop of Fools those bands of traveling performers were mostly loved in France- where Sex became a farce of Love. Italy seemed to, because of prohibition become more Triumphant than farcical.(or should I say- more moral lessons)




*It might be my imagination but there seems to be a stream running from the Fools Bottom :-
Love the image- thank you Robert.
~Lorredan

To Add: It always seems to me that this area of ideas of connection seems far more appropriate for cards- than any serious theology.
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Guilds, plays and tarot

#3
A wonderful image Robert - thanks so much for sharing it. The crowned figure standing over the saint and holding what might be a sceptre reminds me of an emperor or a pope, except for his clothing, but 'PAX' must refer to 'The Kiss of Peace' - so does that mean the crowned figure is God? The draped throne in the background reminds me of that of the Popess. It strikes me how easy it would be to miss so many of the details in this painting - and BTW, clicking on the image makes it smaller rather than larger.

In those TV-less days plays and entertainments created for/by the lowest strata of humanity (as perceived then), to the highest must have been of great importance to everyone and well worth more intensive study.


It might be my imagination but there seems to be a stream running from the Fools Bottom :-
Love the image- thank you Robert.
~Lorredan
I think there is...

Edited to add that I've just reread Lorredan's post re. the Deity, which seems to confirm the identity of the crowned figure, although that idea does seem in conflict with the theory that he is not present on tarot cards as it would be blasphemous to depict him there. Plays must have been considered a high enough form of art to allow his appearance.

Pen
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Guilds, plays and tarot

#4
Pen wrote: BTW, clicking on the image makes it smaller rather than larger.
My cursor turns into a magnifying glass image (instead of the hand), with a + sign - click to enlarge. When I click, the magnifying glass shows a minus sign - to make it smaller again (automatic screen sizing).
Image

Re: Guilds, plays and tarot

#6
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
Pen wrote: BTW, clicking on the image makes it smaller rather than larger.
My cursor turns into a magnifying glass image (instead of the hand), with a + sign - click to enlarge. When I click, the magnifying glass shows a minus sign - to make it smaller again (automatic screen sizing).
Aha... thanks Ross. A pity though, that it's not much bigger than the post image - I want it to be huge so I can see everything that's going on. Perhaps more of the trumps are hidden in there somewhere...

Pen
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Guilds, plays and tarot

#7
It was the largest version I could find, and I too want a large version to look at all the details! So if anyone finds one, link or let me know!

I find just reading about the artist fascinating. Artist to the king, well travelled in Italy in the mid-1400s. His other work is spectacular.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

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