Now, I'm no expert in this family of cards, and I'm almost certain to make mistakes when talking about it, but hopefully those wiser and better informed than I will correct my errors.
I remember the first time I saw a "Tarot of Bologna", it was the LS version marketed under that name, a late, Tarot de Marseille based card deck that did little to thrill me, yet I thought it was quite nice. The version commonly sold under this name is by Giacomo Zoni, and was created in 1780.
But that's not the deck that I'm talking about. The deck that I'm referring to isn't really in print anymore, and I'm not sure a complete version even exists. I'm talking about the tarot that was used in Italy before the Tarot de Marseille became the standard hundreds of years later, and which can still be seen today in modified, double-headed decks with reduced numbers of cards. The deck in reduced form (ross??) is usually referred to as the "Tarocchi Bolognese"
I remember the first time I saw some images of the "Bologna" tarot, I was struck immediately that they looked old; that they had no titles on them; that the numbers looked added on; and that the images seemed.... well... "authentic" to me. I don't really know how to describe it but I thought to myself "AH HA! This is the real thing!"
These images from a mid-17th century Tarocco Bolognese as shown on Ross's site show 8 trumps from Dummett's book "Il Mondo e l'Angelo":
One of the most striking features of the Bologna is that the group we usually call the Popess, Empress, Emperor, and Pope are here called simply "Papi", and all are of equal value. Later, these four cards were replaced with the "Moors".
Here are two sites that talk about the early ordering of tarot decks:
So the order of the Bologna pattern is known as "Southern" or "Type III" or "A". It goes:
the four Papi/Moors (of equal rank)
Love (the Lovers)
Old Man / Hermit
Lightning / Tower
and the Fool
You'll notice that in this order the three virtues are not split up like in other orders, but are together right after the Chariot. You'll also notice that the Hermit is later in the series than we are used to seeing in the common Tarot de Marseille order.
What I find interesting is that in this order, the virtues don't interrupt the flow of the cards in the "middle" section... for me, they flow more easily:
Wheel of Fortune>Hermit>Traitor>Death>Devil>Lighting(Tower)>Star>Moon>Sun>World>Angel(Judgement).
Obviously, another difference in the Bologna is that the World and Judgement are "reversed" as compared to the Tarot de Marseille.
The more I look at this order, the more I like it. Frankly, if I could change one thing it would be to move the virtues back to before Love and then have a completely unbroken chain through the rest of the cards, but as far as I know, that order has never been recorded, and it is just whimsy on my part.
There are also early sheets of uncut cards from Kaplan's Encyclopaedia which also display the Bologna pattern, here are some for comparison (Ross, are these still Bologna?):
Another deck from Bologna worth mentioning and that will probably come up is the Mitelli tarot from 1660-65, what I consider to be one of the most beautiful decks in the world:
http://www.tarothistory.com/2008/06/20/ ... the-world/
Even though the Mitelli is clearly a new and novel redrawing of the older pattern, it is good to keep in mind that it is contemporary with the oldest existing Tarot de Marseille the Noblet, and also a deck that I think will certainly come up in this discussion... the Vieville.
So there is lots to talk about here. We have the four Papi all of the same rank and the possible ramifications of what that could mean. We have the Virtues grouped together. We have the order of World>Angel. We also have some very interesting iconography on the cards themselves, and some obvious relationships to other decks that need some explaining.
So, let's talk about the tarot from Bologna!