A Tripartite Ranks of Man

#1
In a thread about the meaning of the Magician, I posted the following analysis:
To put the figure in a Christian-societal context, there are assorted devotional prints which use a tripartite division of Mankind. The images typically include 1) a pope and ranked representatives of Sacerdotum near the bottom on one side, 2) an emperor and ranked representatives of Imperium near the bottom on the other side, and 3) sinners burning in Hell, centered at the very bottom of the page. If one were to make an allegorical cycle from these images, to serve as the lowest cards in a game, one could not do better than to personify the leaders and their subjects as sponsa and sponsus, creating an empress and popess for the brides, and using a fool and deceiver to symbolize the enticing folly and deception of this world which lead to damnation.

Sponsa and Sponsus
http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... tcount=340
It seems worthwhile to show some examples of that motif. First, however, Mary and Huck have recently been exploring one of my favorite resources, the British Museum database. It has a great many allegorical and religious prints of interest to Tarot enthusiasts, as well as numerous decks of playing cards, Ghisi Labyrinth prints, E-Series prints, and so on. It is well worth exploring. Two especially noteworthy items are fortune-telling sheets from the 18th Century. I was going to post about them back in 2010, shortly after I posted about some depictions of fortune-telling from the same era, but I thought someone else should do so -- putting them in context better than I could. At this point I don't think that they've been posted about yet, so I'll mention them in passing:

Cartomancie, Ou L'art de tirer les cartes (circa 1780s)
http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/s ... 2&partid=1

Nouvelle Maniere de Tirer les Cartes Invente en 1792
http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/s ... 2&partid=1

In terms of the tripartite societal analysis mentioned the other day, the British Museum has a devotional print with the Man of Sorrows and a monstrance (like an Ace of Cups) being adored by such a grouping. In this detail from the print I've highlighted parallels with the lowest trumps.



Man of Sorrows Devotional with Ranks of Man
http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/s ... 2&partid=1

The next one is my favorite, (although it comes from a different image database), partly because the secular ranks of man clearly includes a peasant, with his scythe and flail, holding a soft hat like the prop shown on the table in the V-S Bagatto card. I have highlighted the rulers (sponsus) of Church and State to emphasize the distinction from their subjects (sponsa).



Monogram of Christ Devotional with Ranks of Man
http://www.virtuelles-kupferstichkabine ... tWerk=3065

There are many Rosary prints, including ones with the Fifteen Mysteries of the Rosary, which show an emperor and pope as part of a ranks of man motif. There are a few which also show sinners in Hell, the motif in question here. Here is one in a detail from a British Museum print.



The Great Rosary
http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/s ... 7&partid=1
http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/s ... 7&partid=1

Best regards,
Michael

P.S. I have posted 1600px versions of the two cartomancy prints.

La Crédulité Sans Réflexion
http://pre-gebelin.blogspot.com/2012/01 ... exion.html

P.P.S. I corrected the sponsus/groom/ruler and sponsa/bride/subjects references, which I had reversed.
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: A Tripartite Ranks of Man

#2
Hi Michael,

Thanks for posting the images and links, these are some great finds.

Regarding the Man of Sorrows print, how confident are you that a Popess and an Empress are being shown?

The Popess looks masculine enough to be a bishop to me, it's hard to say. The women with the rulers seem extremely femine, but maybe just nobles or royalty? I guess I'm unsure of my confidence about the popess and empress in this image, but I'm likely to be missing something obvious.

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

Re: A Tripartite Ranks of Man

#3
robert wrote:Hi Michael,

Thanks for posting the images and links, these are some great finds.

Regarding the Man of Sorrows print, how confident are you that a Popess and an Empress are being shown?

The Popess looks masculine enough to be a bishop to me, it's hard to say. The women with the rulers seem extremely femine, but maybe just nobles or royalty? I guess I'm unsure of my confidence about the popess and empress in this image, but I'm likely to be missing something obvious.

cheers!
robert
I think Michael is not claiming that the Popess and Empress are literally in the crowd; it's just the thematic, threefold, division he is pointing out, and overlaying the Tarot "ranks of man" on top.

From the "sponsa-sponsus" (bride-bridegroom) quote from the post he mentions, the important concept here is "the leaders and their subjects... an Empress and Popess for the brides" - in other words, the subjects of the Emperor and Pope - shown in the print as a multitude - are, Michael suggests, personified as female abstractions in the Tarot. In the print they are "spelled out"; in the Tarot, they are personified.The Popess is the body of the faithful, the Church, clergy, doctors and lawyers, etc.; the Empress represents the other, common and secular, professions, grouped behind the Emperor. So together, in this reading, the Pope-Popess and Emperor-Empress represent the Ecclesiastical and Secular arms of Christendom.
Image

Re: A Tripartite Ranks of Man

#4
Hi, Ross, Robert,
Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
robert wrote:Regarding the Man of Sorrows print, how confident are you that a Popess and an Empress are being shown? ... I'm likely to be missing something obvious.
I think Michael is not claiming that the Popess and Empress are literally in the crowd; it's just the thematic, threefold, division he is pointing out, and overlaying the Tarot "ranks of man" on top. From the "sponsa-sponsus" (bride-bridegroom) quote from the post he mentions, the important concept here is "the leaders and their subjects... an Empress and Popess for the brides" - in other words, the subjects of the Emperor and Pope - shown in the print as a multitude - are, Michael suggests, personified as female abstractions in the Tarot. In the print they are "spelled out"; in the Tarot, they are personified.The Popess is the body of the faithful, the Church, clergy, doctors and lawyers, etc.; the Empress represents the other, common and secular, professions, grouped behind the Emperor. So together, in this reading, the Pope-Popess and Emperor-Empress represent the Ecclesiastical and Secular arms of Christendom.
Exactly right, as I spelled out in my original post on the "Origin of the word Bagat" thread and repeated here. It's not that the Empress and Popess are in the crowd -- they ARE the crowd. They are allegorical figures. As such, they represent something other than a literal empress or popess, and my argument is that they represent the most obvious subject matter, which also happens to be the most appropriate subject matter.

In other words, these prints show what the lowest trump subjects would look like if not reduced to the allegorical avatars of Empress and Popess. This is nothing new, Robert, but the same story I've been telling for over a decade now. R.A. Hendley coined the term Team Christendom to refer to the four figures, and the idea that they represent Church and State is discussed in many places. Ross found and posted a great picture of Church and State together back in 2008.

If the trump cycle is a systematic moral allegory of some sort, then there is no doubt that the Pope and Emperor, and figures lower than them, represent the same thing as do the pope and emperor (and usually lesser figures as well) in hundreds of other moral allegories, i.e., Mankind. The reason for selecting the Emperor and Pope is obvious -- they convey the subject matter more conventionally than any other subjects. The open question about the lowest trumps is, why were these other figures chosen and used as they were? What do the Empress and Popess represent? The Bagatto? The Fool?

The main problem with interpreting the Popess and Empress as Church and State is that they seem to be inclusive categories. So what do the two "other" figures represent, Matto and Bagatto, and why are they not included in within the two allegorical subjects? What distinction is being drawn which alienates them from the entirety of Church and State so that they are present as separate subjects in the cycle? My solution has always been that there is a secondary meaning overlaid, another distinction being drawn. The primary distinctions are between Church and State and between rulers and subjects. Because of the deeply negative connotations that are integral to the ambiguous Matto and Bagatto, I concluded that the secondary distinction was between the saved and the damned.

Thus, Team Christendom collectively represents the corporation of the faithful, noble souls if you will, represented by crowned monarchs. Whether taken as representatives of frivolity, (fools and magicians being emblematic of vanities and illusion), or as allegories of Folly and Deception, the other two figures lead to damnation. The function of Carnivalesque play and travesty is to emphasize the proper order which is reaffirmed at Lent. Vanities were routinely indulged but also ritualistically burned. The phrase "honored in the breach" comes to mind, as do Friar's Club roasts where the guest of honor is dishonored in the extreme. Also, Mikhail Bakhtin's Rabelais and His World offers some interesting insights into period-appropriate understanding of travesty, but now I'm rambling....

While this analysis makes good sense in a period context, and explains the six subjects beautifully as a complex, comprehensive, and somewhat subtle representation of Mankind, it is always best to find confirmation of the topos in a period work of art or literature. Many scenes of the Last Judgment have groupings which include spiritual and temporal ranks of man along with sinners going to Hell, but none in which the groups are quite so clearly delineated as these prints. Thus, they illustrate precisely the same analysis of Mankind into groups as I suggest the designer of Tarot had in mind.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: A Tripartite Ranks of Man

#5
Thanks guys. Of course I'm familiar with the identification of Popess and Empress with Church and State, I just misread the thread this morning and thought that this image specifically showed them.

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

Re: A Tripartite Ranks of Man

#6
Hi, Robert,
robert wrote:Thanks guys. Of course I'm familiar with the identification of Popess and Empress with Church and State, I just misread the thread this morning and thought that this image specifically showed them.
Let me try a bit more heavy-handed emphasis.



Man of Sorrows Devotional with Ranks of Man
http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/s ... 2&partid=1

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: A Tripartite Ranks of Man

#7
There are countless examples in which an emperor and pope are shown with their respective subordinates, and a few in which there is another group explicitly representing those outside, in opposition to Team Christendom. Perhaps the most famous such example is the 14th-century fresco by Andrea da Firenze. This blurb is from the Web Gallery of Art page.
In the foreground, in front of the side wall of the Cathedral of Florence, we can see the hierarchic order of the medieval society: the Pope, at his left the Emperor and King, a prince, at his right the Dominican general and a bishop. Before them are the friars at the left and laymen at the right; then noblemen and knights, merchant, scholar, finally women and the lower ranks of the society. The basilica in the background is the symbol of the Church. On the right side of the picture St Dominic is preaching, St Thomas Aquino debating the heretics, Martyr St. Peter signalling the dogs (symbolizing the Dominican friars, "Domini canes") to tear the heretics to pieces.
As in the lowest trumps, we see the two groups comprising Team Christendom and the third group in opposition.
andrea-firenza-way-of-salvation.jpg
(243 KiB) Downloaded 498 times
The three pairs are parallel in their relationship. That is, just as the rulers of Church and State lead their subjects, Deceivers mislead Fools.

Best regards,
Michael
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: A Tripartite Ranks of Man

#8
The Popess as the Church also provides an explanation as to why the Popess is lower than the Pope. As from Michael's quote from St.Paul "Let women be subject to their husbands"...

I just found this page with Latin and English text, "on the dress of the prelates":

"Episcopus semper defert anulum, insigne fidei et coniunctionis nuptialis cum Ecclesia sponsa sua"

The Bishop always wears the ring, the symbol of fidelity and nuptial bond with the Church, his spouse

Re: A Tripartite Ranks of Man

#9
Above I posted examples of this tripartite division in devotional prints about the Host and Man of Sorrows, about the Monogram of Christ, about the Rosary, and in a Florentine fresco about the Church Militant. Here is another example from the online British Library database. This one that is a very straightforward image of the Last Judgment.



The Last Judgment with Ranks of Man
http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/s ... 9&partid=1

The point of these varied subjects is that the tripartite division was a generic Christian motif. It could be used in any number of contexts to represent Mankind, illustrating divisions between rulers and subjects, spiritual and temporal orders, and between the saved and the damned.

Best regards,
Michael

P.S. Here are a couple more examples from Wikipedia, with Team Christendom going to their reward while others are off to eternal punishment.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... a-1460.jpg
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File: ... n-1504.jpg
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

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