Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#21
Only short, cause I go to holidays ...

There was a description of a 60-cards game in the Johannes of Rheinfelden (1377), which had 15 cards in each suit, 5 cards and 10 numbers, and the numbers were professions. So this deck was rather expensive, comparable to tzhe Hofämterspiel (4x12: in c.1455). From the Hofämterspiel one has the strong opinion, that it was from Bohemia, and this JvR-deck might have been also from Bohemia (strong suspicion).

Bohemia and Milan had stronger political contact in 1395.

In "before 1425" the Michelino deck was commissioned by Filippo Maria Visconti. It also had 60 cards, and to some degree one could understand it also as a 4x15-deck. But 16 cards were understood as trumps, and these trumps formed a hierarchy from 16-1 or 1-16. Beside the trumps were only King as court cards.
One could understand the 16 trumps as 4 lower court cards in 4 suits.

In the neighbor region of Bohemia the game Schafkopf has developed. This is played with 3 court cards in each suit, and the two lower court cards are understood as permanent trumps, but the kings are not trumps (as in the Michelino deck).

Information to the Michelino deck are here
http://trionfi.com/chapter-oldest-tarot-cards
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#22
I realize now I've been approaching my Tarot puzzlement in the wrong way.

Let me start with an analogy: I've been deeply moved by two revivals of "Oedipus at Colonus," one at my high school in the 60s, and one the BBC did in the late 80s. Is my being moved in any way related to the 5th century BC Athenians' understanding of the play? I doubt it. Is it because there is something in the play itself, something created by Sophocles, and distorted by translators, directors and actors, that grabs me? Yes. There is a building tension about why anyone would want to be nice to this nasty old man, why blind Oedipus deserves his dignity, that completely engrosses me. Is this what Sophocles wanted? I have no clue. But is this theme really in the play? Obviously; and the modern directors and players milked it for all it was worth.

People are fascinated by the Tarot, not as a card game, but as an oracle, spiritual discipline, or hidden wisdom. This fascination has been explained by the cards being created by implausible Egyptians or Kabbalists, or plausible Humanists and Neoplatonists. But the proximate reason for the fascination must lie in the cards themselves, not their origin. Maybe it is time for an old fashioned formalist analysis of the deck itself. Once this is done, asking why this formal structure attracts us, and how it was created, might be more easily answered.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#23
Jim Schulman wrote:I realize now I've been approaching my Tarot puzzlement in the wrong way.

Let me start with an analogy: I've been deeply moved by two revivals of "Oedipus at Colonus," one at my high school in the 60s, and one the BBC did in the late 80s. Is my being moved in any way related to the 5th century BC Athenians' understanding of the play? I doubt it. Is it because there is something in the play itself, something created by Sophocles, and distorted by translators, directors and actors, that grabs me? Yes. There is a building tension about why anyone would want to be nice to this nasty old man, why blind Oedipus deserves his dignity, that completely engrosses me. Is this what Sophocles wanted? I have no clue. But is this theme really in the play? Obviously; and the modern directors and players milked it for all it was worth.

People are fascinated by the Tarot, not as a card game, but as an oracle, spiritual discipline, or hidden wisdom. This fascination has been explained by the cards being created by implausible Egyptians or Kabbalists, or plausible Humanists and Neoplatonists. But the proximate reason for the fascination must lie in the cards themselves, not their origin. Maybe it is time for an old fashioned formalist analysis of the deck itself. Once this is done, asking why this formal structure attracts us, and how it was created, might be more easily answered.
hi Jim, I'm back ...

well, the aims may be different. My idea is to understand the origin. Understanding the "successful deck" is another task, especially as the "successful deck" of the different times hadn't always have been the same.

One of the greatest successful moments of Tarot development seems to have been c. 1750. Then Tarot as "Taroc" or "Tarock" conquered Germany, Austria and other countries. But the standard version (as we know it) was rare in this process, instead the Tarot de Besancon (actually better called the Strasbourg version) was of some more importance, but of really high importance was the factor "creativity with Tarock" and we got Animal Tarock, Soldier's Tarock, city Tarocks, Tarocks with social scenes, satirical Tarocks, etc. ... lots of variants. The type of Marseille Tarock, well known in South-East of France wasn't even known in Paris, although Paris clearly knew Tarot well in c. 1650.
The Tarot of Etteilla in context to divination systems became a factor since 1788 and Tarot de Marseille belonged to the players, not to the diviners. So playing card divination became especially strong in France after Etteilla, but not the Tarot de Marseille. Eiphas Levi and the scene around Papus and others in France and the Golden Dawn in England opened up a new world of Tarot and this became very successful especially in the 1960's with the Hippies.

Well, and this again had been a new wave of creativity with some mix from persons, who thought the history of the cards as their point of interest, and not the ideal dreams of 19th and 20th century.

For France we have, that the greater French interest in Tarot is later than expected (judged from my perspective), documents before 1570 are mostly "just translations from Italy", and French decks from before (Cathelin Geofroy 1557 and Tarot de Paris, which I take as from 1559) seem to be small initiatives only. Tarot became a stronger French factor with King Henry III (1574-1589) ... as far I see it. The Taraux document of 1505 was from Avignon, which wasn't "France" then.

My (partly "our") French collection (1500-1700)
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=807

My (partly "our") German collection (c. 1700 - 1750 - 1770)
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=821

Well, not naturally complete, just the attempt to get the chaos under control. And in development, they are not finished.

Mary Greer's collection might be useful (not naturally updated for the current moment)
http://www.tarotpassages.com/mkgtimeline.htm
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#24
Huck, we seem to be talking past each other.

Here is my basic research question
  • The Tarot de Marseille patterns have much in common with late 1400s patterns, e.g. as shown in the Cary Yale sheet
  • They also have much in common with the various occult tarots that have developed since 1800
  • This population of decks, which is very conservative in its preservation of earlier deck features, is the source of widespread contemporary fascination for those in search of some sort of uplift or other, including myself
  • Question: Are there formal elements, i,e, either structural or iconographic, in this population of TDMish decks that help make it a source of fascination? Do these formal elements, and their conservation, have a history? Or is the fascination entirely due to people believing myths and pseudo-psychology about the decks' history and powers, without any regard to its actual iconography or pattern?
The questions I'm asking are incompatible with the nihilism with which you approach connections between earlier and later decks. My questions presuppose that when a given population of decks do have features in common, that there are causal connections that explain these common features. Your approach to tarot history seems to deny this as a matter of method; and requires instead that each deck must be explained on its own, without considering prior or subsequent decks. Only when such an isolated reconstruction of a deck demonstrates common features to other decks are these common features real.

This method may sound very objective; but it produces some results that seem bizarre to me: hypothetical decks, decks with fewer or more trumps, trumps associated with suits or not, trumps that reflect chess men, dancing moors, or the politics and fads of the day. The a priori denial of constraining connections within the sequence of tarot decks seems to permit a happy hunt for all the arbitrary and independent events that could conceivably be connected to any particular deck, even if the features being explained by the independent events can be just as easily explained by referring to prior or subsequent decks. This seems to me to be nominalism gone overboard.

For instance: the decorative tarocks that became popular in Germanophone areas after 1750 are not each an independent event, despite each having a unique design. Instead there is a single event, a decision by the card buying market that the traditional iconography does not matter, and that a standard iconography is unnecessary. This single decision in the market place underlies all these decks; despite it being invisible to the actual design of any of them.

The card players who used the Tarot de Marseille patterned decks between 1500 and 1800 never made this decision, and instead insisted on buying decks with the tradtional iconography. How can it not be a legitimate question to ask why this was so?

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#26
Hi Huck- I hope you had a good Holiay!
As to your question-There appears not to be available, an answer as to why the CY sheet was given the dating that seems to be accepted as late 1500/early 1600 - except that the cards were unnumbered or titled. The word 'probably'
seems to crop up and I do not know why anyone can even come up with 'probably'. I never been able to find out the provenance of the sheet- where it was found, except that it was with three other uncut sheets. There does not appear to be other Museum sheets that correlate as coming from the same woodblock or even single cards. Why even 'Milan' has no explanation that I can find.
HI Jim
The card players who used the Tarot de Marseille patterned decks between 1500 and 1800 never made this decision, and instead insisted on buying decks with the tradtional iconography. How can it not be a legitimate question to ask why this was so?
Maybe it is more about availability. Looking ahead some 500 years I went to purchase a Tarot deck and I had the choice of two. Now the seller went with what was been sold elsewhere in the world, and came up with the most popular at the time- that is from what was the most sold. So the spiral continues- the printer gets asked to repeat, what is most popular due to what is sold....and so it goes.
Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#27
To me, the no alternative production theory does not make sense. High quality TDMII engraved decks were produced by Swiss cardmakers well into the 19th century. Slightly altered high quality designs like the Soprafino were made in Italy until the end of the 19th century. If there was no demand for conservatively designed decks, these printers had all the means necessary to make only novelty Tarocks.

Another possibility is that the design became a purely conventional habit, like chess players insisting on the Staunton pattern for serious games; not because those designs mean anything, but because it allows them to play their best game when the stakes were high. It should be noted that the Staunton pattern became the standard in the 1850s, when professional chess took off, and when even amateur players started joining clubs and leagues. I have not heard of high stakes tarot play, so this reason for design conservatism seems unlikely.

Gebelin was conservative in his designs, just adding a few symbolic chachkes to the Tarot de Marseille designs, because he imagined Egyptian mysteries in these cards. Perhaps French, Swiss and Italian card players saw something else that was meaningful in the cards, a piece of folk-culture perhaps; and this made them conservative?

Going backward from French occultism, the current fascination with the Tarot raises three very specific historical questions (in addition to all the contemporary reasons for the fascination). These are 1) why was the the Tarot de Marseille design conserved in the 17th and 18th centuries 2) why did it become dominant in the 17th and probably the 16th century outside Italy, and 3) how did it develop in Italy the late 15th and perhaps early 16th centuries.

This is a story with information that we don't have. When an apprentice asked why a card was colored or designed in a certain way; he was given an answer. When a player asked why the Hermit trumped Justie and not vice versa, she was given a reason. Stable designs do not necessarily mean that these questions were always answered in the same way; but they suggest that there was indeed some sort of tradition to the way the cards were understood that made for the preservation of their designs.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#28
No alternative production can also mean protectionism from each country.
For example, Italy closed it's borders to printed matter for long periods of time to give protection to guilds (well really Italian states) The church also tried to have control and there was nearly a hundred years of a commission to inspect every printed matter crossing between France and Italy. That is two generations of card players that have to buy local. The Soldiers that transcrossed countries- for example Swiss Mercenaries that fought in Italy may have had conservative Swiss cards- had to replenish in Italy. There was language barriers and conservative design was most likely appreciated. There was also that patriotic sense of each soldier, or sailor for that matter, using their own designs. Japan has it's own variation of Portuguese playing cards for example. I play Canasta with exactly the same decks that my grandfather played with- but cards bought 80 years later.
I was also agreeing with you over Chess variation Staunton pieces- that also applied to woodblocks that were assets to protect and often went with the printer when they shifted country.
I am reading something between your lines (that may well not be there) that you have a theory as to seeing something meaningful that was worth preserving in the Tarot de Marseille (aside from the occult). I can't quite grasp what that is-but fresh eyes have great import......
~Lorredan
The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#29
hi Lorredan,

Kaplan II, p. 285-287, speaks of "mid-16th-century", for Dummett, p. XII, I see ...

Image


... a "late 15th century", which makes something of 40-80 years difference.

******

Hi Jim

... :-) ... it seems plausible to speak of a relation between Marseille Tarot deck type style and Cary-Yale Sheet style, it seems to me, however, highly implausible to speak of the Cary-Yale-Sheet as a Tarot-de-Marseille deck. As far I'm informed, Marseille got the allowance to produce Tarot decks in 1630. Then we have a dating for Vievil of c. 1650 (Paris) and a Noblet (Paris) of c. 1660, and a Chosson as earliest Marseille deck style in 1672, but there seem to be differences in the opinions, cause some think, that 1672 might be 1772, cause that, what one can, is somehow a 1c72 (Kaplan II p. 312, the critical card is at the right bottom).

Here's a discussion:
http://www.tarotforum.net/archive/index ... 39349.html

The next sure Marseille deck is a few decades later, I think 1709 (Madinie)

I personally accept, that the Noblet is a forerunner to the Marseille deck type, but the Vievil has more similarity to that, what followed later as variants in Rouen and Belgium (so somehow a Northern France development).

I think, that Tarot had a "better French home" in the period between 1574 (begin of Henry III) and 1661 (Mazarin died, an Italian with great influence as ruler of the state), but after it, it turned bad for Tarot in France (this time knew 2 Italian queens in France ... which naturally had the result of Italian influence in France). I think, that the young Louis XIV (started to reign 1661 till 1714) favored French playing cards and not Italian/German import ... and so we have, that the trend of the time went "against Tarot".

This political motivated trend got a change, when in 1700 France got chances to become heir of the Spanish Empire. The political situation evolved in a war (war of Spanish succession, 1701-1714) ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_the ... Succession

... and in this situation - likely motivated by the wish to gain sympathies of the population in possibly New Spanish-French countries especially in Italy - the trend against Tarot was changed and some production was allowed and possibly used politically (likely late in the war time).

[Various maps to the start and the results of the war]
http://www.emersonkent.com/map_archive/europe_1713.htm

It didn't really work, as Spanish possessions in Italy were lost. And France had been in the late war in a "critical state", so somehow "desperate".

Well, and it doesn't mean, that Tarot returned to Paris - still around 1780 it was more or less unknown and still addressed as "German" or "Swiss" in dictionaries.

For Strassbourg, an insecure city, which recently had become France (occupied 1681, legalized as France in 1699), we have the following development:
1687: A cardmaker Antoine Joly, originally born in Lyons, who had worked in Montbeliard (earlier Mömpelgard) arrived 6 years after the French occupation of Strassburg (so 1687 ?) in Strassburg. Then, so says Depaulis, no cardmaker had been in the town or a longer time. "There is no evidence of any cardmaker in other places [in Alsace], even in Colmar, before the mid 18th century."
More: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=821&p=11900&hilit= ... eis#p11900

Since 1707: Louis de Laboisse (from Paris) since 1707, Pierre Lachapelle (from Lyons) (1714-44), David Benoist (1717-1761) appear as cardmakers in Strassburg. Depaulis declared, that in this development Tarot decks with so-called Besancon-style, appeared.
"Indeed we have at least one pack from each of the aforementioned masters .... They are all, save one, of the 'Besancon' variant of the Tarot de Marseille, with Juno and Jupiter. The one exception is a Tarot pack made by Louis de Laboisse, 'A la la Perle Orientale', where the two problematic cards ... have been replaced by 'Le Printemps' and 'L'Hyver'".

Depaulis suggests, that the decks called "Tarot de Besancon" actually are Tarots from Strasbourg. He suggests a dating for the deck with "Le Printemps' and 'L'Hyver' instead of Pope and Popess of c. 1710.
More: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=821&p=11900&hilit= ... eis#p11900

1713: Francois Isnard (engraver) arrives in Strasbourg.
The engraver sign of this possibly earliest deck with Pope-Popess changes signs with "J.N." - different to "F.I.", which stands for Francois Isnard, who is called by Depaulis ... well, Depaulis himself explains it better:

Image

More: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=821&p=11900&hilit= ... eis#p11900

1720-35: Radau takes the SEBASTIAN IOIA deck in Besancon style (Kaplan II, p. 324) as from 1720/25. IN VERLAG BEY SEBASTIAN HEINRICH IOIA IN AUGSPURG WUNHAFFT BEY DER SCHWAHL MYHL. Depaulis notes, that Sebastian Heinrich Joja is documented from 1720-33, referring to S. Radau & G. Matthes, Deutsche Spielkarten 1650-1900, Nuremberg, GNM, 2001, no. 18.
Kaplan has the cardmaker Sebastian IOIA as active from 1720 - 1785 (father and son ?).

etc.
from my own report : viewtopic.php?f=11&t=821&p=11693#p11693

If we put the dates of early Marseille Tarot decks to it (without the Chosson): Madinie 1709, Payen 1713 ... then we see, that somehow in mid of the Spanish succession war the idea was born to use the Tarot again.
These dates follow the 1704 text of playing card researcher Menestrier (long time close to the highest French court, his opinion was of great importance in heraldic questions and playin cards belong to the category heraldic) who spend some attention on Tarot, and found, that "the first Tarot was made in 1392 by the FRENCH card maker Gringonneur for the FRENCH king Charles VI" and he even had some of the cards as evidence (the famous Charles VI deck), where he could point to.
[LATER ADDED: I had a memory error here.
Ross explained the real context at ...
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=845&start=119
... Menestrier noted the Gringonneur document, but didn't draw a connection to the Charles VI deck.]

So, if I understand this correctly, from then on Tarot "somehow" was officially a French product and not "German, Swiss or Italian" and so - NATURALLY - one could use it, without any blasphemy against the French monarchy. So Tarot, what before 1704 looked like propaganda for the German Empire (which often had been the political foe), cause Tarot contained an Emperor and not a French king, suddenly was quite acceptable.

... :-) ... well, calling the Cary-Yale sheet a Marseille Tarot, looks to me like a blasphemy against all serious Tarot history work, but assuming, that the Marseille Tarot has descended "somehow" from a game tradition, which also was responsible for the Cary-Yale Sheet, seems quite acceptable.

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

... :-) ... the attribute "Nihilism" as description for my research methods I politely discard as "polemical defense" ... I just attempt to look carefully at given conditions.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#30
A Set:
-- label "TDMish designs":
-- elemets in the set: tarot card decks with a certain hallmarks in their design.
-- Some specific decks that are elements in this set the Cary-Yale sheet, the various TDMs from Noblet on, the various French occult decks, the similar Sforza castel fragments, the similar Swisss designs, the similar North Italian designs. And lots more decks I do not know about. The included decks are sufficient to establish the commonalities that define the member decks
-- This set is a matter of definition, not of research. Decks are either part of this set or not

I define the set in this way because I think this set shows a striking degree of internal continuity. That many decorative card decks (i.e. not members of this set) were made, going from the Sola Busca to the tarot of the Master, stengthens this point. There is a a "trunk-line" of conservative TDMish designs, along with offshoot decorative decks that are unicums and do not create a tradition. Clearly this trunk line shows systematic regional variations, but I want to be a lumper here, and insist on the design conservatism of the overall set.

Since decorative decks were produced in all parts of Europe throughout this period, production constraints as a cause for the conservatism is hard to sustain. Also, since the TDMish designs are unsuitable for card play when compared to modern designs with double sided figures and large labels on the corners (like modern tarots or the decorative tarocks), anchoring these designs in the requirements of card play is difficult to sustain.

I am left with the idea that people preferred these cards for reasons not connected with the actual game itself. Lorredan's idea that cards are primarily the pastime of travelers, soldiers and refugees, who would want to maintain a design that reminds them of home has a lot going for it. It creates an oddly sentimental image of prosperous Germans sitting at their well appointed Stammtische unwrapping a novel Tarock deck every Thursday; while the fleabitten wanderers huddled in the corners are nursing along worn out Marseilles style cards preserved from a long lost home.

On the vaguer question of what I see in these cards. There is what I persoanlly see; and my wonder at what others saw or see.
-- I personally see traces of a late medieval/early renaissance virtue ethic that was incorporated into a card game. These elements were neither hidden in the game as in the occult interpretations of the cards, nor were they meant to be edifying or educational as they probably were in the Mantegna deck. Instead they were conversation pieces, designed to let players sparkle as they played cards by letting them comment knowingly on the cultured or trendy matters depicted in the cards. If the design tradition is conservative, then over time, the purely trendy matters fall away, and the cultured matters stay, albeit subject to continuous reinterpretation.
-- On what others see: Think of the series of Tarot de Marseille design decks in analogy to the series of revivals of a well known play. Each new deck design is a newly staged play based on the same script, and only loosely connected to previous revivals/decks. Each particular deck design is analogous to a new staging of, say, Lear in the UK or Death of a Salesman in the US. Using this analogy, the question becomes what it is about the Tarot de Marseille "script" that makes it worth staging over and over again.

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