Re: origin of the word "Bagat"

#11
Hi, Marco,

I don't really have much to say about the thread except to echo Steve -- the translations are fantastic. Thank you very much.

These are exactly the kind of meanings that should be expected in association with Tarot's Deceiver, so in that sense it is not news. However, it is great to see them used in such contexts. I had previously encountered Jacopone da Todi in relation to the Fool (specifically the archetypal Wise Fool or fool-for-Christ notion) and in connection with the ordering of the virtues in Tarot de Marseille. Both were interesting but extremely weak associations with an aspect of Tarot not really requiring any elucidation. However, this contemptu mundi passage is extraordinarily revealing.

The subject matter of this early poem is precisely the theme of the Tarot trump cycle, and the Deceiver is named in a prominent fashion, and directly identified with "wicked Fortune". This character, with his now-you-see-it-now-you-don't persona, his fraudulent appearance and personification of changeableness, is the exemplar par excellence of false and fickle Fortune.

As social low-lifes, as exemplars of mundane frivolity, and as personifications of Folly and Deception, the Matto and Bagatto are perfectly understandable as the lowest of the Tarot allegories. They are appropriate subjects when viewed playfully, in the manner that one might enjoy the travesties of Carnival, and also when seen more soberly as one might view those vanities from the subsequent (triumphant) Lenten observance. They are both playful and damned for their playfulness.

To put the figure in a Christian-societal context, there are assorted devotional prints which use a tripartite division of Mankind. The images typically include 1) a pope and ranked representatives of Sacerdotum near the bottom on one side, 2) an emperor and ranked representatives of Imperium near the bottom on the other side, and 3) sinners burning in Hell, centered at the very bottom of the page. If one were to make an allegorical cycle from these images, to serve as the lowest cards in a game, one could not do better than to personify the leaders and their subjects as sponsa and sponsus, creating an empress and popess for the brides, and using a fool and deceiver to symbolize the enticing folly and deception of this world which lead to damnation.

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Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: origin of the word "Bagat"

#12
I saw something in Game of Tarot that caught my eye (pp. 45-46). (Here I put the interesting part in bold type; in transcribing the Persian, I can't put the bar above some of the vowels):
The type of indigenous Persian playing cards to be found in all museums is probably irrelevant to our enquiry. These are a special kind usually referred to in the literature on playing cards and card games as As Nas cards, from the name (as-nas) of the game played with them. They consist of four or five copies of each of five picture cards: as (Ace) or Shir va Khorshid (Lion and Sun); Shah or Padeshah (King); Bibi (Lady); Sharbaz (Soldier); and Lakat (a trifle - the card usually shows one or two dancing girls). The different ranks are always distinguished by background colour. The game of As Nas very closely resembles Poker; there is no flush, since there are now suits, and there is also no straight, but otherwise the scoring combinations are just like those of Poker, including the hand known in Poker as 'full house' (a three and a pair).
There is a footnote supporting this description with two references, including that of "Aquarius" Italian Games at cards and Oriental Games, London 1890, pp. 58-59. He then goes on to debunk the purported evidence that Poker originated from As Nas.

But is As Nas so irrelevant to our enquiry? We have here this card named Lakat, somewhat similar to Pagad, and meaning "trifle". Of course "Pagad" is more similar to "Bagat", short for "Bagatto" and "Bagatella". But where did "Bagatella", meaning "trifle", originate? Is it Arabic or is it Persian?

Also, instead of a conjurer there are dancing girls. But both are features of fairs, festivals, and traveling carnivals. Could the card have come before the Italian word?

A problem is that there is no evidence that As Nas cards existed before the seventeenth century. Dummett says (p. 46):
In fact, I have been unable to find any evidence that As Nas is any older in Persia than the earliest surviving As Nas cards, that is to say, then the eighteenth or possibly the seventeenth century.
But in a footnote he adds that "I have not devoted any serious study to As Nas cards".

One consideration that Dummett brings forward (tentatively, to be sure) is that the word "as" comes from the Italian "aso", and thus also the Persian card is likely derivative from the European. Looking on Wikipedia, I see that "ace" was the Italian name of the dice-face with one mark, and before that the Latin name for a small coin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ace). It strikes me that there was much interaction between Rome and Persia (wars, in particular), while the Latin itself derives from an Indo-European root for "metal", for which the Sanskrit was "Aes" (see http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=283). As Andrea shows on that last link, there is much similarity between the old Roman coins and Italian Aces. But might not the Persians have had such Aces themselves, before the Italians? Perhaps not, but I don't know.

Re: origin of the word "Bagat"

#13
In reading about something totally unrelated to Tarot- I came upon some interesting correlations to the word Bagat.
The Chinese guarded the secret of paper making well until the the Ottoman Turks defeated the tang army in 751ad, at the Talas River. The soldiers and paper makers were taken prisoner- taken to Samakand and taught the paper making. From there the first papermaking industry was in Baghdad in 793ad. It was said that at first in the west paper was called Baghdatikos (from Baghdad), but there were variations on the word- Baghatalos-Bagatikos-Bagatalas(from the river Talas)-When papermaking went to Spain in aprox. 1150 it was still called variations of 'from baghdad' , until it became redundant as a name for Paper. From there it became in Spain baga when talking about the bundles tied with rope- thought to maybe have come from arabic camp folowers- but interestingly also thought to have derived from scavengers collecting scraps (rag and Bone) for paper making-fabric bits and pieces. A bagasse is also a worthless woman which in Italian became Bagascia and a Bagat for a worthless man; sometime after 1200 the first word for paper was lost in use for the association of Paper (papyrus etc) as was the old word for a worthless man -Bagat, but frippery, trifles, bits and pieces stayed on.
How this word stayed on in card titles I have no idea when it was well out of use by the 16th Century as a title,yet in Spain, Bagasse was still in use.
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: origin of the word "Bagat"

#14
Lorredan wrote:A bagasse is also a worthless woman which in Italian became Bagascia and a Bagat for a worthless man; sometime after 1200 the first word for paper was lost in use for the association of Paper (papyrus etc) as was the old word for a worthless man -Bagat, but frippery, trifles, bits and pieces stayed on.
Hello Lorredan, the word "bagascia" is still in use in Italian (but it sounds somehow archaic) and means "prostitute". According to etimo.it it could derive from the celtic "bach" meaning small. The suffix "-es" produces a feminine variant of the word. So "bagascia" literally means "girl", just like the more common "puttana".

If so, "bagascia" could indeed be etymologically linked to "bagat". Thank you for pointing out this possibility, that I had never considered before.

Re: origin of the word "Bagat"

#15
Hi Marco- the work I was reading was my niece's thesis on the history of recycling throughout the Christian world.
What I found interesting was that from about 1200ad throughout Europe, the derogatory terms for low life or rubbish/worthless men disappeared, but the terms remained for women and those names, not necessarily as prostitutes,seem to relate to 'from Baghdad'- not Celtic etymology etc. Today in English we still call a low-life female 'a Baggage'
This sexism seems to be a particularly Christian concept of how Arabic peoples were considered worthless, and that view was extended to low caste women- but not men. That is what surprised me over a title 'Bagat' long after it was outdated- after all you would not call card 1 'a pimp' or would you? There seems to be no male equivalent of 'a Baggage' in the english language? Is there a male equivalent of the word Bagascia used today, even if archaic?
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: origin of the word "Bagat"

#16
Lorredan wrote:Is there a male equivalent of the word Bagascia used today, even if archaic?
Hello Lorredan, in Italian, "bagascia" strictly means "prostitute", at least since 1612.
Apparently bagascio also is an Italian word, denoting the male customer of a prostitute. I never heard this word before, and it is clearly derived from "bagascia".

Re: origin of the word "Bagat"

#17
Thank you Marco.
The Bagascio- the male customer of the Pap-esse? Her Title indicates watered down milk or worthless nourishment.
A large difference between the hand painted cards and the rest is this sense of parody, only because of titles (it seems to me.)
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

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