The tarot from Bologna

#1
Ross and I were chatting the other day about the tarot from Bologna. This pattern and order are rarely discussed on tarot forums; but I think it's time to change that.

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":
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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:
http://it.geocities.com/a_pollett/cards26.htm
http://www.tarothermit.com/ordering.htm

So the order of the Bologna pattern is known as "Southern" or "Type III" or "A". It goes:
Conjurer

the four Papi/Moors (of equal rank)

Love (the Lovers)
the Chariot
Temperance
Justice
Fortitude
Fortune
Old Man / Hermit
the Traitor
Death
the Devil
Lightning / Tower
the Star
Moon
Sun
World
Angel (Judgement)

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?):
http://www.tarothistory.com/images/encyclopedia1.jpg
http://www.tarothistory.com/images/encyclopedia2.jpg

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!
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The tarot from Bologna

#2
Great topic Robert! Another aspect of the Bolognese tradition is that it is the earliest recorded divinatory system with a tarot, which is pure cartomancy and doesn't involve esotericism. They don't use the whole deck though.
robert wrote:The deck in reduced form (ross??) is usually referred to as the "Tarocchi Bolognese"
"Tarocchino" (little tarot) is the old name, revived by the Accademia del Tarocchino Bolognese -
http://www.tarocchinobolognese.it/
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".
Yes, in 1725. The cardmaker Montieri published a "geographical" Tarocchino which listed countries and cities, and for Bologna he described the goverment style as "mixed" - partly Papal, partly the old senatorial system. This angered the papal legate, who demonstrated his power by having Montieri and his distributors arrested and his cards burned. Popular sentiment turned against this move within days, and the legate was forced to let his prisoners go - with certain conditions. The conditions were that cardmakers would henceforth replace the Papi with moorish satraps, and the Angel with "a Lady".

Bolognese cardmakers followed the first, but not the second requirement.
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?):
http://www.tarothistory.com/images/encyclopedia1.jpg
http://www.tarothistory.com/images/encyclopedia2.jpg
Yes, still Bologna. There is no reason to think otherwise, given the similarity with later Bolognese cards. Thierry Depaulis once raised an eyebrow at the Fleur-de-Lys on the Chariot, suspecting it might indicate Florentine provenance, but the emblem is not unknown in Bologna and the weight of the evidence is otherwise overwhelmingly 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!
For my part, I think this is very close to the primitive Bolognese design, shown on the Beaux-Arts/Rothschild sheets. I could only wish that the Papi were shown there.

If the circa 1500 pack's Papi looked anything like the 17th century ones, which I am sure they did, then we might as well believe that the original Bolognese design is faithfully reflected in the sheets and the BnF cards. If we speculate that Bologna is the original home of Tarot, then the designs of the two Popes shows where the Popess might have come from -

Since the four Papi are "equal" (not ranked in lists of trumps nor play, the last played to a trick winning other Papi and lower cards), they need some way to be distinguished in play, probably so that the pile doesn't become confused and cause arguments. The solution in the BnF cards (as Robert shows above) was to give one Pope a pair of keys and giving a blessing, and the other Pope a cross and a book. The tiaras (triregno) look a little different too. And both Popes look a little ambiguous in their gender. Mitelli adds beards to both of his Popes, which might indicate he knew of the "Popess" in other decks, and wanted to avoid ambiguity. In fact however, Popes did not wear beards in his day, and had not for some time (Secular Roman clergy are still partial to the shaved face).

In this scenario then, the Popess is just a further extension of the distinguishing among the Papi. Adding gender also created the various sub-orders of these four cards, since the ranking of a religious female image created issues (Empress (secular female) is always lower than both religious and secular males, but the religious female occupies every possible position below the Pope (religious male) in extant orders and above the Bagatto).

Ross
Image

Re: The tarot from Bologna

#3
They may have been called 'four papi' (or four moors) but the image Robert shows above has always appeared to me that this is a mis-appelation:

Cards three and four have, as in the standard Tarot de Marseille, IMPERIAL, NOT papal, crowns, and are thus Empress and Emperor (or at worst, two emperors, which I doubt).

One aspect I personally especially like are the pips - especially the way in which the swords are accurately represented.
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&
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association.tarotstudies.org

Re: The tarot from Bologna

#4
jmd wrote:They may have been called 'four papi' (or four moors) but the image Robert shows above has always appeared to me that this is a mis-appelation:

Cards three and four have, as in the standard Tarot de Marseille, IMPERIAL, NOT papal, crowns, and are thus Empress and Emperor (or at worst, two emperors, which I doubt).
The word "papi" seems to have transcended its literal meaning for Bolognese and Florentine cardplayers. The Minchiate calls the first five cards "Papi" as well - "Papa Uno" is the Bagatto, and "Papa Cinque" is Love (see e.g. Dummett and McLeod, History of Games Played with the Tarot Pack, 319).

I remember reading that the four cards are sometimes called "Papots" in Savoy, but I can't find the reference at the moment.

So I don't think it's fair to call the cardplayers' usage a mis-appellation - it's THEIR usage and they can define it any way they want.
Image

Re: The tarot from Bologna

#6
I think "Papi" does imply a way of looking at the four as a special set, and while it is misleading in that only two of them are really "papi".. so to speak, it shows that they considered the four as equal and somewhat interchangeable.

Like Ross, I suspect that the four were originally two popes and two emperors. Perhaps the term might have implied "four fathers"?
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The tarot from Bologna

#7
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:So I don't think it's fair to call the cardplayers' usage a mis-appellation - it's THEIR usage and they can define it any way they want.
It matters when you wish to derive from THIER usage some symbolic meaning relevant to historical intent or precedence.
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: The tarot from Bologna

#8
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: If the circa 1500 pack's Papi looked anything like the 17th century ones, which I am sure they did, then we might as well believe that the original Bolognese design is faithfully reflected in the sheets and the BnF cards. If we speculate that Bologna is the original home of Tarot, then the designs of the two Popes shows where the Popess might have come from -
The early painted cards show gender pairing was important to the 'scheme' from early on; I think it more probable the other way round, a misunderstood or offensive popesse was turned into a second pope.
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: The tarot from Bologna

#9
SteveM wrote: The early painted cards show gender pairing was important to the 'scheme' from early on; I think it more probable the other way round, a misunderstood or offensive popesse was turned into a second pope.
Sure gender pairing was important from early on. Arguing which way of development was more probable is tricky.

Personally I can't see how having two popes is less problematic than a - possibly - allegorical figure of "The Church". Two Popes suggests schism. I further can't see how having a rule that allows any other of those three cards to trump the Pope is supposed to lessen the putative offense to the Pope.

A further question arises with the Empress - did she offend the Bolognese too, necessitating making her into another Emperor?

How are you measuring probability?
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A little speculation!

#10
The female/male version of our little quartet seems to 'fit' better with the overall structure of the Trump allegory, so I favor it as the original version.

From the top down:



:(( Evil Stuff>>>>>>>>>A moving center<<<<<<<Good Stuff :)


:ymdevil: Devil/Tower........................Celestials..............Judgement/Heaven O:-)

8-x Death/Dishonor................Time/Fortune................Honor/Love :x

8-} Folly/Deception*..............Church/State.........Defenders of Christendom :ympray:



Obviously only the female versions can be allegorical of Church & State. A somewhat subjective interpretation of course. /:)

* Folly & Deception being the Detractors of Christendom. If we follow the pattern, each 'flank' is opposite the other. So, we could say the Emperor and the Pope could be allegories of Honesty and Wisdom, the opposites of Deception and Folly.
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