Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#121
Actually, Menestrier attributed Tarot to German invention.

...

(Claude-François Menestrier (1631-1705), Bibliothèque curieuse et instructive de divers Ouvrages Anciens & Modernes, de Littérature & des Arts (Trevoux, 1704), vol. II, pp. 178-180.)

Menestrier doesn't ever mention the so-called "Charles VI" cards. They were in the private possession of Roger de Gaignières, who only donated them to the Royal Library in his will of 1711.
Ah, big thanks for the correction, my memory sorted the things wrong.
So I've to repair a few things.

This takes a part of my argument away, but not the whole context.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: What is the point?

#122
debra wrote:The elephant in the room is "Why care?"

Tarot history might be just a wacky hobby. Unless it throws light on something important, or deep, it's just a pastime no better or dumber than any other.
Huck wrote:Naturally the "library of images" the designers were limited to their local and contemporary situation, I don't doubt that. ... But for this specific situation we have in our situation only limited access, especially as the date and the place of the "TDMish" style is rather unknown and floats according the opinion of specific researchers through 5 centuries and more and from France to Italy ...
There is perhaps something deep to be found in a pedestrian history of the Tarot de Marseille.
  • Games often begin with framing metaphors. Monopoly is metaphoric real estate; chess metaphoric war. Innumeable card games begin as novelties with framing metaphors. Huck cites early Trionfi games as in this class, and rightly says that their framing metaphors were probably very idiosyncratic and only looslely connected.
  • But long lasting games tend to move from semantics to syntax, They lose their framing metaphors and become purely formal endeavors of mental skill and calculable chance. Game tokens become standardized and abstract, like backgammon counters, chess and drafts pieces, dominos, and normal playing cards.
  • This happened to the competitive modern game of tarot and German Tarock, where the card ID info is standard, although there is a small decorative center area left for the printer to individualize the decks. The pictorial info on these gaming tarots is not so much semantic as decorative. People can pay attention while shuffling or admiring the workmanship of the deck, but during the game, they don't pay attention to it. There is no reason whatsoever for such decorative insets to be standardized
  • Now you have the Tarot de Marseille tarot designs, being used for at least 200 years (1650 to 1850), and probably for a 100 years before that, in regular card play. They have a standardized design that is neither decorative, nor formal, nor novelty seeking; but rather one that faithfully conserves a semantic scheme purportedly unknown to the players and card makers themselves.
  • This oddity has previously been used as the entry point for highly fanciful intepretations; but I am interested in a prosaic "thighbone is connected to the hipbone" explanation for it. Why did card makers and card players over these centuries act so conservatively? Why would a set of images that are meaningless to the makers and players, and useless to the play, be preserved so faithfully?
  • To my mind, the only thing that makes any sense is that there were meanings. That is, there were one or more folk meanings to the Tarot de Marseille iconography and order that were extant among card players and card makers; that were important to them; and that are now lost. These meanings must have been seen as an integral to the card play.
  • They were probably not based on the virtue or soul journey schemes that were among the framing metaphors for early trionfi games, nor the hermetic scheme of later occult decks. I'm guessing perhaps something more like the many amoral folktales of a fool getting lucky. These framing tales would be regarded as an essential part of the verbal accompaniment to the game: "Who will be the lucky fool tonight?"
  • So maybe it's not all that deep; but it does means the tarot was a decidedly unusual game, that did not follow the normal course of game development. Discovering the nuts and bolts reasons for its semantic conservatism may tell us something more general about human nature.
  • And If indeed the cards remained meaningful to players, from their origin as a renaissance game of acquiring virtues, via an early modern lucky fool scheme, to their end as an occult compendium for 19th century romantics; it would be very amusing to know in detail all the twists and turns of it
I apologize for having been so obscure in my points; they are still developing in my mind. I hope I've been clearer now. You can see I'm not centrally interested in a single point in time, or in the usual historical questions of when and where specific features of the tarot arose. Instead, I'm interested in this very conservative card playing tradition. Is there a single or a few repeated patterns of settings, motivations, and interactions that cause this conservatism, or is it itself like a tarot game, a fool's journey of random lucky breaks strung together?

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#123
A quick update. I experimented holding about 18 to 20 cards from Flornoy's Noblet and Dodal reconstructions in dim light (in the belief that these would be fairly close to what period players would have seen). According to sources, prior to reversible and indexed cards in the 19th century, players are illustrated as holding the cards in two hands, passing them from one to the other to identify them. I followed this procedure and here are my observations:
  • The key to recognizing cards quickly is how small of a vertical section, from left to right or right to left, one has to uncover to recognize them
  • Trumps are the quickest to be recognizable, with only about a 1/4 to 1/3 of the left or right side needing to be uncovered
  • Sword and stave pips are all labelled on both sides, so quickly readable. The cup and coin pips are haphazardly labelled and some of the unlabelled one need to be uncovered half way to identify them.
  • The court cards are handed. A right handed person, passing the cards from left to right and unvcovering the left side of each card first, will have an easier time, since the kings and queens are holding their suit signs in their right hands. The valets and knights are trickier, but once one is familiar with them they ID fast in either direction. About 1/3 uncovered for right handers and 1/2 uncovered for inexperienced left handers
  • The names at the base of the courts and trumps are remarkably useless for quick identification; so their correct spelling is moot. The numbers on the trumps would not come into play for anyone halfway familiar with them, since they can be IDed before a centrally placed number becomes visible
  • It would be impossible to see all the cards at a glance, even for ten cards, prior to indexing; so a good memory was more of a factor for the early players
This is a negative result. The need for easy recognition would be no more of a reason to change an established single sided, full card trump design than any of the other kinds of early playing cards, pips or courts. From the standpoint of card player convenience, the Tarot de Marseille standardization can just as readily be the freezing of an arbitrary syntactic and formal design as the conservation of a meaningful one. Sadly, without contrary evidence of continued semantic uses of the cards, that would be the Occam's razor hypothesis.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#124
Huck wrote:
Actually, Menestrier attributed Tarot to German invention.

...

(Claude-François Menestrier (1631-1705), Bibliothèque curieuse et instructive de divers Ouvrages Anciens & Modernes, de Littérature & des Arts (Trevoux, 1704), vol. II, pp. 178-180.)

Menestrier doesn't ever mention the so-called "Charles VI" cards. They were in the private possession of Roger de Gaignières, who only donated them to the Royal Library in his will of 1711.
Ah, big thanks for the correction, my memory sorted the things wrong.
So I've to repair a few things.

This takes a part of my argument away, but not the whole context.
Here is the original text in two versions, the original - hardly legible in places in the Google Books scan - and a transcription by Augustin Calmet ("Dom Calmet", 1672-1757), posthumously published in 1876.

Menestrier, 1704

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http://books.google.fr/books?id=7dcFAAA ... &q&f=false

Augustin (Dom) Calmet, "Publication des oeuvres inédites de Dom Calmet... 2° De l'origine du jeu de cartes", Bulletin de la Société philomatique vosgienne, 2 (1876), p. 195:

Image


http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k3 ... =vosgienne

My translation again, for comparison (since it is on another page) -

"As it was the Germans who first invented woodcut impression, they were also the first to print playing Cards. It is true that they made many extravagant figures, very different from ours, since they showed God, Angels, the Devil, the Pope, the Popess, Kings, Fools etc., and to make them more practical without being easily dirtied or recognized by the backs, they covered them with criss-crossing lines in the form of a Mesh ["Rezeüil"=reseau] which gave them the name Tarcuits and Cards Tarautées. Because the word Tare, flaw, waste, or stain, is properly a hole, of which the Etymology is the Greek word τερέιν, Terebro, torno, vulnero τερηδων Teredo, the worm that eats wood, Terebra Tariere to pierce, Terere to crumple, worn off from rubbing. Tare is thus any sort of stain, flaw, or waste; a work taré, is a work punctured, used, scratched, from which was formed the word Tarif for a sheet of paper or a table divided by lines and by squares, to mark the duty on Foodstuffs and Merchandise to pay at the Customs desk, and the tablets on which were marked the price and estimation of payment according to their additions and subtractions. Also in Blazon one says a “casque tarre” [helmet “tarre”], that is to say one which has a meshed (or slotted) visor."
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Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#125
Claude-François Ménestrier (1631-1705) is an important negative witness to the existence of an interest in Tarot trump symbolism in the 17th century.
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude-Fra ... A9nestrier

He was born and spent the first half of his life in Lyon, the most important playing card manufacturing city in France (perhaps not so in his lifetime, I'm not sure of the numbers). He spent the second half of his life based in Paris, which of course was another very large manufacturing centre of playing cards. This includes Dodal (Lyon), Noblet and Vieville (Paris).

He wrote very many books about symbolism - heraldic, emblematic, enigmatic. He wrote about divination systems and games. He invented a game of cards - a heraldic teaching game. Except for the remark about the "extravagant" German Tarot figures, he said nothing at all about Tarot trumps.

This sounds promising -
La Philosophie des images, composée d'un ample recueil de devises, Paris, de La Caille, 1682
http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k68227q.pdf
No cards, no Tarot cards.

This might have something, anything -
La Philosophie des images énigmatiques, où il est amplement traité des énigmes, hiéroglyphiques, oracles, prophéties, sorts, divinations, loteries, talismans, songes…, Lyon, Jaques Lions, 1694
http://books.google.fr/books?id=MsttAAA ... &q&f=false
Nope. Nothing again. Not a single word about Tarot cards, or playing cards.

For a man born in the middle of Tarot card production in France, and who showed a huge interest in symbolism in general, this game's symbolic potential did not interest him in the slightest.

I interpret this to mean that in the 17th century, the meaning of the trump images was so commonplace that it did not inspire comment. Enigmas, hieroglyphics, the prophecies of Nostradamus, the hundreds of ways of divination, Cabala - all of that was interesting to him, but not this common deck of cards.
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Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#126
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:I interpret this to mean that in the 17th century, the meaning of the trump images was so commonplace that it did not inspire comment. Enigmas, hieroglyphics, the prophecies of Nostradamus, the hundreds of ways of divination, Cabala - all of that was interesting to him, but not this common deck of cards.
Another possibility is a lack of interest in common things, in folklore, nostalgie de la boue, peasant wisdom, demotic customs, etc. How low class wasTarot game play at that time?

The French are actually very precocious in this, with Perrault collecting fairy tales in the late 1600s, while in other countries, folklore is not an object of interest until the late 1700s with the rise of romanticism. But for Menestrier to be interested in Tarot would have been exceedingly precocious, since he is an older contemporary of Perrault.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#127
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
I interpret this to mean that in the 17th century, the meaning of the trump images was so commonplace that it did not inspire comment.
I presume you mean, the trumps were so commonplace that no one looked into their meaning? I doubt the 'meaning' of them was a commonplace, but rather something overlooked in something so commonplace (lacking in mystery).
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#128
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:Claude-François Ménestrier(1631-1705) is an important negative witness to the existence of an interest in Tarot trump symbolism in the 17th century.
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude-Fra ... A9nestrier
Marolles (considerable elder than Menestrier, published in 1657 his autobiographical work and in this text, in which also referred to the Tarot rules scene of 1637, he also presents a ballet with a battle between French playing cards and Tarot cards. The French playing cards win.
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=751&p=10705&hilit=ballet#p10705

Marolles himself must likely have been a friend of Tarot, likely also Mazzarin (Italian, still in function 1657 as ruling minister) and the king's mother possibly also (one honored with a sort of female Tarot scheme).
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=729
But the indication, that the Tarot cards lose the battle against the French suited playing cards, might mean, that the young king, still not ruling, might have other interests.

But France is in this time time still not ready with its internal wars ... there's trouble around the city of Marseille, with a climax just in the 1659:
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaspard_de ... _Niozelles
http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Saint ... rseille%29
Marseille loses some of its independence.

These events form the interesting question, if Marseille in 1657-1659 was already important for Tarot card production, so, that the ballet of Tarot of Marolles in 1657 with is negative statement against Tarot cards already could address with it the rebellious conditions in Marseille.

What we actually get in 1659, is, that the text of the "Maison Academique des Jeux" - likely under some control of the French regime - places a relevant long description of Tarot inside the book (and the first edition of 1654 hadn't a description). So this should be a sign of "peace between Tarot card and French playing cards".
Perhaps this peace was offered, after Marseille was gotten under control?

According worldcat ...
http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=Maison ... umber_link
... there were these editions
1654 Edition without Tarot ... PARIS
--- (5 years) .... time of Tarot Ballet and Marseille is conquered
1659 Edition with "Taros" ... PARIS
--- (7 years)
1666 Edition LYON
--- (2 years)
1668 Edition PARIS
-------- 1668 .... End of the short war of Devolution (1667-68) Franche Comte) / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_Devolution
--- (6 years)
1674 Edition LYON
-------- 1674 ... Besancon (Franche Comté is taken in Franco-Dutch war (1672 - 78 / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-Dutch_War
--- (23 years)
-------- in this period a lot of war activities, especially against Huguenottes; Strasbourg is taken
1697 edition LYON
-------- same year: peace treaty arranged in LA HAYE (= Den Haag)
--- (5 years)
1702 LA HAYE (in Den Haag, the place of the peace treaty)
-------- 1704 Menestrier writes about playing cards
--- (16 years)
1718 Edition PARIS
--- (21 years)
1739 Edition PARIS
--- (21 years)
1760 Edition AMSTERDAM
--- (17 years)
1777 Edition AMSTERDAM
If one analyses these dates, one gets, that the text was produced from 1654-1668 and then much later again 1718-1739 in PARIS. In the period 1666-1697 we see productions in LYON (which is much nearer to Switzerland and to regions, where Tarot was long played). From 1702 - 1777 we've editions in Dutch countries.
Perhaps one can say, that the interest in Tarot in Paris died with the wars in Franche-Comté (1667-1678). The period with very much wars in France has the side-effect, that the text isn't produced. The new production starts just in the peace-treaty-year 1697, likely a connected date (a book for games runs likely better in times of peace). It's rather curious, that a new production in 1702 outside of France just is arranged in Den Haag, where the peace-treaty 5 years before had been arranged.

Menestrier arrived near to the court end of 1650s, when Marolles wrote his Tarot Ballet.

I would assume, that the use of Tarot in Northern France suffered by the political conditions. Menestrier didn't write about Tarot, because it wasn't opportune to write about this theme.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#129
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: I think the Tarot de Marseille C order was invented in France (perhaps in Lyon) and stayed in France (until the 18th century anyway), and that the C order of Alciato, Susio and Viéville (Hermit above Fortune; position of Chariot and Love, or Fortitude and Justice, unstable) is another, perhaps older, French C order that invaded Milan with Louis XII’s armies and immigrants. Louis XII’s explicit policy seems to have been to make Milan the Italian Lyon. In any case Milanese merchants were granted all the privileges of Lyonnais ones...

...For the invasion theory (page 407), Dummett summarizes: “The period of the French incursions into Italy, from 1494 to 1525, may therefore well have been the time when the game of Tarot first entered France.”

We know now that this time-frame must be considerably shortened, since packs and woodblocks of the cards were already being exported from Avignon to Pinerolo (near Turin) in 1505.

So the argument must become “The period of the French incursions into Italy, from 1494 to before 1505, may well be when the game of Tarot first entered France.”
...

That Louis XII and Francis I fought for Milan is absolutely true; but nothing could be further from the truth in the case of Charles VIII, which considerably shortens the period for which Tarot must have entered France, on this theory, to between the end of 1499 and 1505.

Also, the period “1494-1525” is a misleadingly solid 32 years inclusive (although Dummett does go to the trouble to narrate the turmoil of the period 1512-1525); in fact Charles’ army was in Italy only from September 1494 to July 1495. They were only in Lombardy for 3 weeks inclusive (both invading and retreating), constantly marching. They never “fought for possession” of Milan, and never had any intention of doing so.

This is obviously not enough time to pick up the C order, and take it home. Since they spent November, December and January marching from the coast of Tuscany to Naples, and remained there until May – in all, eight months in central and southern Italy, including the march in June -, the game the army would have become acquainted with, if they did at all, was the southern game and A order, the only order known in Tuscany and southern Italy.

So we have to dismiss the first part of the French invasion theory, and with it the years 1494-1499.

The second one didn’t happen until 1499, when Louis XII, with a valid claim to Milan, took it easily, and a French regime administered it until 1512. This makes it a very short amount of time before Avignon is exporting Tarot cards to Italian-speaking Piemonte, an unlikely scenario, if Lombardy had been making enough cards for a Tarok-kartenspiel-invasion of France only a few years before. What happened to the local industry?
As I understand it, it was during the period of the french control of the Duchy of Milan that the french silk trade became established in Lyon and Avignon, exploiting the resources and expertise of Milan. Compared to the establishment of a silk manufacturing base in this period, that of card manufacture, which may entail nothing but relocation of some woodblocks and engravers, pales into insignificance and by contrast seems far less unlikely than you allow. We know too that silk traders also traded in playing cards, so perhaps with the movement of one so went the other.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#130
SteveM wrote: It was during the period of the french control of the Duchy of Milan that the french silk trade became established in Lyon and Avignon, exploiting the resources and expertise of Milan. Compared to the establishment of a silk manufacturing base in this period, that of card manufacture, which may entail nothing but relocation of some woodblocks and engravers, pales into insignificance and by contrast is far less unlikely than you make it seem. We know too that silk traders also traded in playing cards, so perhaps with the movement of one so went the other.
I don't know about the silk industry in Avignon and Lyon - can you give me some bibliography, names, and dates?

On this analogy, then, one would be led to believe that silk manufacture in Avignon and Lyon began after October 1499, and within 5 years was of such high repute that a Piemontese city like Pinerolo would prefer to import from Avignon (500km over mountains) then buy Milanese silks (120km over a plain).

I think it makes more sense to think that both Milan and Pinerolo were importing cards from over the alps in 1505.

Of course we don't know that Pinerolo didn't buy Milanese cards in 1505; we only know that they did buy Tarots made in Avignon in 1505.
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