Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#91
Thank you Huck.
I have come to the conclusion that Tarot is the 'Portland Vase' of card games.
The Portland Vase is much older than Tarot/Trionfi/Trumps/Tarocchi and considered a visual trope of which is said.......
The meaning of the images on the vase is unclear and controversial. Interpretations of the portrayals have included that of a marine setting (due to the presence of a ketos or sea-snake), and of a marriage theme/context (i.e. as a wedding gift). Many scholars have concluded that the figures do not fit into a single iconographic set.
I think I will go take a diploma in the variations and measurements of bubbles from various bubble pipes available in Disneyland.
~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

#92
Lorredan wrote:Thank you Huck.
I have come to the conclusion that Tarot is the 'Portland Vase' of card games.
The Portland Vase is much older than Tarot/Trionfi/Trumps/Tarocchi and considered a visual trope of which is said.......
The meaning of the images on the vase is unclear and controversial. Interpretations of the portrayals have included that of a marine setting (due to the presence of a ketos or sea-snake), and of a marriage theme/context (i.e. as a wedding gift). Many scholars have concluded that the figures do not fit into a single iconographic set.
I think I will go take a diploma in the variations and measurements of bubbles from various bubble pipes available in Disneyland.
~Lorredan
We have had at begin of 14th century in Italy about 300 different states. Well, US-America has only 50 or 532 something like this and it is much bigger.
In the course of 14th century this number was considerably reduced by fights, treacherous acts, murder inside families and just by paying money. Nonetheless we had during 15th century still enough states, to make the case rather complicated. It wasn't simply Italy, it were a lot of local differences with fights, animosities, alliances, arrangements, marriages, treacherous actions, unreliable treaties, different idioms, with old hate between neighbors ... well, we know, that they had a lot of wars.
Shall we expect now from this situation the early Italian outcry: "we all want to play with the same Tarocchi cards and with the same rules!" NOOOO! That's not realistic. Still in modern times we have rivalry between different locations in Italy, I would assume more than in other modern states. Northern Italy versus Southern Italy is for instance still a theme.

It's much more probable, that one state, when he noted that another made good business with Trionfi cards, somehow imitated the successful operation, but also attempted to make something different.

This was also so in Germany, when the states after the 30-years-war were split in many units. Many different card decks.

For the triumphal celebrations, about which we have knowledge we observe a great creativity and none is like the other. I don't expect the same creativity for the the cards, but that there were simply a good part of different models is actually probable.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#93
mikeh wrote: Now I have a question I've been meaning to ask for a while, about the famous artisan in Bologna who was worried about his livelihood after Bernardino's bonfires. Iris Origo, in The world of San Bernardino, 1962, speaks of "the beautiful hand painted playing-cards, called tarocchi, which were a specialty of their city." I would be very surprised if they were called tarocchi then, and I would be tempted to write this comment off as a confusion based on a later Life, except that she gives a specific reference, with a page number. Here is what she says (pp. 188f), which is followed by a footnote:
According to one of the most charming stories told about him by his first biographer, Barnabo da Siena, it was this design [meaning the YHS] that Fra Bernardino himself drew on a rough card for a poor little artisan of Bologna called Valesio, who had come to him in tears after the day on which the Bolognese, at the preacher's behest, had cast into a great bonfire, which they called 'the Devil's castle,' not only their gaming-boards and diece, but also the beautiful painted playing-cards, called tarocchi, which were a specialty of their city.
So Bernardino gives him the YHS to paint instead, and he "never lacked bread again," Origo paraphrases.

The footnote is to Barnabo da Siena, AASS, p. 743. AASS is "the Acta Sanctorum (these include the Lives of San Bernardino by Barnabo da Siena, Maffeo Veglio and Ludovico di Vicenza)." Barnabo's seems to be vol. iv, pp. 739-746.

Dummett appears to have discussed something very much like this statement that she is quoting--dice, gaming boards, and naibi rather than tarocchi--but it is by a different author, and a different page, p. 257, and apparently vol. v (I am using the discussion of Dummett by Vitali at http://www.associazioneletarot.it/page.aspx?id=227).

My question is, what does Barnabo actually say in vol. iv, p. 743? Anything pertaining to the subject of cards, in any city (e.g. Siena)? (I am allowing for te possibility that her reference might be of interest, even if her quotation of it is wrong. Vitali and Dummett don't seem to mention this page at all.)
Thierry Depaulis and I looked into this story in 2005 - it is apocryphal, or, perhaps better said, legendary.

But first, Origo's citation cannot be right. The volumes of the AASS (Acta Sanctorum) are usually cited by month and volume within the month. For instance, January has two volumes, February 3, and May 7 volumes (even though one of them is divided between two physical volumes, it is counted as one). It's true that Dummett (GoT p. 142) cites "Acta Sanctorum vol. XVI", but this is unconventional, and he adds the correct means of citation immediately afterward "May vol. 5".

Bernardino of Siena's day is May 20, which is volume 5 of May, pages 257-325. This is the 16th volume of the series, counting the first volume of January as volume 1, as Dummett did.

I believe the Bollandist Acta Sanctorum project is not yet complete - insofar as it ever can be completed, since new saints are made all the time - but you can see most of the public domain ones here in PDF -
http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/2 ... torum.html

So - Origo's "vol. iv" means either the general "volume IV", which means volume 2 of the month of February, or volume 4 of the Month of May. You can see both at the Documenta Catholica Omnia site given above.

If it is the general "Volume IV", February tome 2, then page 743 brings you to February 14, which is the end of the entry for Saint Valentine, and the beginning of the entry for Saints Vitale, Felicula and Zenobia. Therefore it is not this volume that Origo refers to.

Volume 4 for May only has 631 pages (not counting the index), so it cannot be this volume either.

Therefore, I conclude that Origo's citation is mistaken here, or that you have mistakenly represented it.

In fact, the three Vitae of Bernardino of Siena are in May, tome/volume 5. That of Barnabo of Siena occupies pages 277-284. The episode cited by Origo and many others is not described as such here, the closest to it is on page 281, left column, where Bernabo describes an undated bonfire of the vanities in Siena, including naibes and other games.

None of the lives in the Acta Sanctorum is the source of this story. It is another Vita that was only published in 1635 (although written in the late 15th century). This anonymous Vitaplaces it only in "oppidum quoddam" (a certain town), and says that Bernardino was confronted by a maker of "tabulas lusorias" - backgammon boards - and complained about his livelihood, Bernardino then giving him the YHS to make, his business prospering, etc.

There is nothing about cards here.

The Bolognese historian Cherubino Ghirardacci, who died in 1598, had the second part of his Della historia di Bologna published over a half century later in 1657. It is there that we first encounter the name "Valesio" and the transformation of his business into that of a cardmaker, rather than making board games (page 644).
(I thought that it was online, but it looks like I'll have to copy out the passage.)
Ghirardacci's own source was Carlo Sigonio (Sigonius), who recounted the story without naming the cardmaker, but saying he made "tabellas lusorias", i.e. a variation of the Anonymous Vita's account. Thierry concluded that Ghirardacci must have been reporting a local legend that had been embellished over time, in order to account for the name "Valesio", and that he perhaps translated Sigonio's description ""faber quidam tabellas lusorias pingere" as "un certo huomo chiamato Valesio, dipingendo le carte da giuocare", perhaps because playing cards are the normal "painted" thing that people think of, not backgammon boards.

Note that the legend becomes further embellished over time - in 1935, Arthur Hind repeated the story from Bernardino's French biographer Paul Thureau-Dangin (1896), but he added that the cardmaker began to "cut the Sacred Monogram" (i.e. woodcut), whereas Thureau-Dangin only says that the cardmaker "painted" the image.

Origo adds yet another embellishment, that I had not heard until you posted it, that the cards were "tarocchi".

This is an illustration of how legends grow.
Image

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#94
Huck wrote:hi Jim,

you are new here ... so I just inform you about some conditions. I try to keep it simple, in reality it's really complicated. ...
Thank you for this very helpful summary. I am much to new to suggest any solutions; I was hoping to see if there were any potential new sources of records that would limit the image inventories used by printers and copyists/illustrators.

My first thought on hearing trumps started out as a fifth suit of equal length was as a player of bridge, and occasionally whist or skat -- 20% is too few trumps to draw them and then maintain control; a fifth suit would also lower the value of establishing long cards in suits, since people would have long suits more rarely, and undrawn trumps would be lurking about more frequently. The play of each hand would mostly devolve into cashing out ones high cards as fast as possible. Even the oldest Tarot rules provide a much more strategic experience. Therefore, gamblers' would be inclined to increase the number of trumps. If you found rules in which a second suit can be declared trump, a deck with five suits of equal card number would make much more gambling sense

But it looks like the hypothesis mostly has these earlier decks used in didactic and novelty games, rather than gambling ones. This would mean the hypothesized five by X Triumph decks would be part of the early 16th century inventory you mention, with its games of planets, gods, and Petrarchian triumphs etc. Didactic and novelty games can develop into gambling or competitive ones, we have tournament monopoly and scrabble now; but is this common?

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#95
Jim, You give good reasons for why, when adults started playing with each other, the deck would have expanded. I don't know if it was common, or even how important that is.

Just to be clear: I don't identify myself with all of Huck's theories about tarot origin, just the part about 22 trumps not being the original form and that a likely precursor was something with a structure like the 16 trump Cary-Yale as Huck outlines. I don't know what to make of the 14 figures in Ferrara 1440. For the 70 card deck in 1457, I appreciate what Franco writes in the article I linked to earlier, an article I like in general. I don't have an opinion on how late the standard 22 trumps became dominant.

Thanks very much, Ross, for the full discussion of Bernardino. It's as I suspected. Now I have something else.

Ross wrote
There are no luxury cards from Bologna, and very few printed cards from their version of Tarocchi from the 16th and 17th centuries. Yet the game has been played there continuously, by a devoted core of players, since the 15th century.
What do you make of Dummett's remark, quoted by Andrea Vitali in "The Order of the Triumphs" (http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=221), speaking of tarot in Bologna:
"Anche se ancora esistenti nel 1588, la vecchia forma e il mazzo completo erano stati completamente dimenticati alla metà del XVII secolo, benché persistesse il nome di Tarocchino"
("Although still in existence in 1588, the old form and complete pack had been completely forgotten in mid seventeenth century, although the name Tarocchino persisted".)
Michael Dummett, Il Mondo e l’Angelo, Naples, 1993, pag. 224.

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#96
mikeh wrote: Ross wrote
There are no luxury cards from Bologna, and very few printed cards from their version of Tarocchi from the 16th and 17th centuries. Yet the game has been played there continuously, by a devoted core of players, since the 15th century.
What do you make of Dummett's remark, quoted by Andrea Vitali in "The Order of the Triumphs" (http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=221), speaking of tarot in Bologna:
"Anche se ancora esistenti nel 1588, la vecchia forma e il mazzo completo erano stati completamente dimenticati alla metà del XVII secolo, benché persistesse il nome di Tarocchino"
("Although still in existence in 1588, the old form and complete pack had been completely forgotten in mid seventeenth century, although the name Tarocchino persisted".)
Michael Dummett, Il Mondo e l’Angelo, Naples, 1993, pag. 224.
I'm not sure what you're getting at, but Dummett is referring to when the 78 card pack - taroochi - might have stopped being made in Bologna, and when the 62 card tarocchino might have become the only kind of Bolognese Tarot pack. He notes that in 1588 Achille Pinamonti was granted the income from taxing Primiera cards at 5 soldi and Tarocchi at 10; therefore it is strongly implied that Tarocchi still had double the amount of cards as Primiera (40 in Primiera). Therefore the 78 card pack and game was still being made and played with in 1588.

At some point after that then, the production of Tarocchi/Tarocchino packs with the pips 2-5 of each suit removed became the norm; Primiera, which has the same pattern as the Tarocchi, has instead the Queens and pips 8-10 removed. These packs subsequently diverged in production, whereas before to play Primiera with a Tarocchi pack all one had to do was remove the Queens and pips 8-10 (and of course pay for the Tarocchi, which is why the different packs were made in the first place, since the players of the one game are not typically the players of the other). Nowadays the only difference notable between the Tarocchi and the Primiera (for instance, in the those made by Dal Negro), is that the King of Cups is completely clean shaven in the Primiera, whereas in the Tarocco he has a "D'Artignan" style beard - chin goatee and moustache. Dal Negro's Tarocco lines seems cruder than their Primiera, but otherwise, identical size and backs, so if you want to have the pips 2-5 in the Tarocco just take them from a Primiera.

Dummett notes that the name "Tarocchino" was not used in Bologna since the end of the 19th century, but that it has been revived by the Accademia del Tarocchino Bolognese. Both Dal Negro and Modiano's cards are called "Tarocco Bolognese".
Image

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#97
Jim Schulman wrote: My first thought on hearing trumps started out as a fifth suit of equal length was as a player of bridge, and occasionally whist or skat -- 20% is too few trumps to draw them and then maintain control; a fifth suit would also lower the value of establishing long cards in suits, since people would have long suits more rarely, and undrawn trumps would be lurking about more frequently. The play of each hand would mostly devolve into cashing out ones high cards as fast as possible. Even the oldest Tarot rules provide a much more strategic experience. Therefore, gamblers' would be inclined to increase the number of trumps. If you found rules in which a second suit can be declared trump, a deck with five suits of equal card number would make much more gambling sense
... :-) ... nice to hear, that you understand something of card playing, that's not too often between Tarot researchers. You even know Skat ... are you of German descend?

Old game rules are rare and often "strange". I don't think, that such a detailed conclusion as yours ("20% is too few trumps") makes sense in the given situation. Taking Skat, you've 4 of 32 cards (12.5%) totally in the Grand game. Bridge has 13, if you play a suit game ... that's 25%, not so much more.
The description of the Ingold games 1432 looks, as if 8 trumps (Ober and Unter) of 52 cards were used. Karnöffel might ave had 7 or 8 trumps.

Trump games generally seem to fall in 3 categories: Bridge (and other games) count tricks, the Tarot counting is a mix of trick-counting and card values and occasionally also giving value to combinations, Skat is based o card values alone, the number of tricks has no influence on the result. In Skat, where the point value of Ace (11) and 10 (10) is very high, it's of influence, that one occasionally can capture them with trumps. So your ratio "trumps must be more than 20%" makes sense there, but not so naturally in Tarot games. And we've in Tarot some different conditions. You MUST trump, if you can't serve the suit. This creates a big difference in the common strategy. And there are a lot of special conditions in Tarot, which variate the usual trick-taking-game-logic.

I would say, it's difficult to judge "old games" from the common gamer perspective, as the rules - if they exist, and that's rare - are often rather difficult to interpret. If you see a description, there are often open question, it's difficult to be sure, that you understand them. Often given solutions are just only "interpretation" and "reconstruction".
But it looks like the hypothesis mostly has these earlier decks used in didactic and novelty games, rather than gambling ones. This would mean the hypothesized five by X Triumph decks would be part of the early 16th century inventory you mention, with its games of planets, gods, and Petrarchian triumphs etc. Didactic and novelty games can develop into gambling or competitive ones, we have tournament monopoly and scrabble now; but is this common?
I believe in a strong influence of chess in the development of Tarot. Chess was very popular in 14th century and still on a successful march in 15th century and of special value for the nobility and their "knight" traditions (it's a war game ... and all, what the documents say, these nobility circles were of importance in the genesis of Tarot). The general research says, that men in nobility circles men played chess, but women preferred cards ... just as a jnterpretation of the many documents with "women with playing cards".
This relation is relative concrete with "16 gods in a chess allegory" of Evrart de Conty (Eschecs amoureux) from 1398, and "16 gods as trumps" in the Michelino deck.

For MikeH:
mikeh wrote: Just to be clear: I don't identify myself with all of Huck's theories about tarot origin, just the part about 22 trumps not being the original form and that a likely precursor was something with a structure like the 16 trump Cary-Yale as Huck outlines. I don't know what to make of the 14 figures in Ferrara 1440. For the 70 card deck in 1457, I appreciate what Franco writes in the article I linked to earlier, an article I like in general. I don't have an opinion on how late the standard 22 trumps became dominant.
Yes, of course, but I wished to give a simplified version of the situation, so I reduced details. ... .-) ... anyway we have to make the jungle a little more transparent ... :-)
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#98
What I was getting at, Ross, was that from Dummett's remark it sounded like the original game in Bologna had died out by the 17th century. Hence the Bolognese players weren't playing the same game continuously all that time. From your account it appears that changes were quite minor, merely removing a few of the pips. Thanks. I still am not sure what Dummett meant by "the old form", if it was anything more than the truncated deck.

Jim: an important reason for using the form of a "novelty game" with allegorical figures for the virtues and Petrarchan triumphs would have been to give the Church a reason for exempting the game, as it did for chess, from local strictures against gambling: it still had the appearance of an educational game. And for some, I suspect that it actually did continue to be educational, even part of people's spiritual exercises, whether traditional Christian or, later in the century, Renaissance Neoplatonist. I have been reading Hadot. He speaks of ancient Neoplatonism in that context. I don't see why the same wouldn't have been true in the Renaissance. For some, their contemplation would serve the same function as, say, Ficino's singing of Orphic hymns or some people's spiritual contemplation of alchemical sequences (with which the father and cousin of the Marchioness of Mantua (Marchioness from 1438 to 1481) had been involved, in relation to the alchemical Heilege Dreifaltigkeit; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buch_der_h ... faltigkeit, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John,_Marg ... g-Kulmbach).

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#99
Huck wrote:... :-) ... nice to hear, that you understand something of card playing, that's not too often between Tarot researchers. You even know Skat ... are you of German descend?
I grew up in downtown Munich; but it's been a long time since I played Skat.
... So your ratio "trumps must be more than 20%" makes sense there, but not so naturally in Tarot games. And we've in Tarot some different conditions. You MUST trump, if you can't serve the suit. This creates a big difference in the common strategy. And there are a lot of special conditions in Tarot, which variate the usual trick-taking-game-logic.
I haven't played "mental-games" with the "must trump" condition; that will change things when used in combination with capturing valuable cards rather than tricks: you can draw outstanding trumps by leading worthless cards in a long suit, forcing others to waste their trumps. That is a real game changer, similar to a running a squeeze in bridge, and would encourage strategic play. Is the "must trump" a feature in the earliest rules?

On a lighter note: Modern Skat and Tarot have misere declarations, an undertaking to lose all the tricks. I don't see these in early rules despite Il Miserio being a trump.

A note in chess. In the standard chess histories, the period from 1300 to 1500 was seen as the the death throes of the old game (with the limited queen and bishop). By 1500, the new rules have emerged in Spain and the game revives. We have records of professional chess in the 1300s. A match between two professionals would typically start on move 30 or so, since all the openings were so well known. Eventually, matches between top players always ended in draws. In effect, the Moorish rule game died because it had been completely decoded. Computer analysis of openings and midgames are rapidly doing that to the modern game now (or already have if you believe Fisher and Kasparov).

In this situation, you would expect a wild proliferation of different rules for chess (like "faerie chess" variants today). The professionals and top players would be open to a rule change, but only a change that preserved the strategic refinement of the old game. That only happens with the contemporary rules that empowered the queen and bishop, and turned the board into a far more rapidly lethal, but still fairly calculable, arena (you can look ahead a lot further playing in the old rules).

In the retrospective chess histories, it is the pros of each era who finally determine the rules of serious chess. Lucena is usually credited as the key professional to create modern chess; which is almost entirely a Spanish phenomena (since they inherited the Moorish pros)

Re: Tarot Origins and Early 15th Century Woodblock Printing

#100
Ross, thanks for pointing out the Rosenwald sheet, which has some of the restriction on design that I had in mind when starting the thread. The backgrounds are standardized, like in medieval figure drawings, and the main figures are fairly simple and schematic.

Unfortunately for my idea, the source of these designs seems to be the images found in the hand painted cards attributed to the Ferrara court. Also the Dick sheets seem to have the same design source but with greater elaboration.

As a microscopic version of my initial question: any speculation on the relations (if any) between Ferrarese hand painted cards, the Dick sheet, and the Rosenwald sheet?

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