Re: The Hanged Man

I had a look through some facsimiles of the decks that use the non-subtractive method throughout (some use 1111, and thereafter the subtractive). This limited selection seems to indicate that convention was to add the 1s on the right. I guess one could go through Kaplan 1 and 11 making notes, but... (%)

Bologna, XV111 Century, il Meneghello facsimile: All 1s on right.

Marsiglia 1804: 9 of swords = 1111V; batons, all 1s on right; cups & coins not numbered.

Minchiate All Leone, Bologna: All 1s on right; pips not numbered.

Sola Busca: all 1s on right.

Rhenan (Ignez Krebs), pre- 1800, Fribourg: Le Pendu = 11X; all other 1s on right; coins not numbered.

Dodal: 6s and 7s of both swords and batons = 1V and 11V; Le Pandu = 11X; all other 1s on the right.

Hopefully I haven't missed anything, but it was very late last night...

He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: The Hanged Man

Wow, bravo!
I've never seen any use of Roman numerals in which the placement of the digits was irrelevant or arbitrary. Maybe the earliest additive systems of this sort, I don't know.

But we do know that card images are regularly reversed left to right, and this having something to do with production (carving woodblocks, or photoreproduction, or whatever else). I just posted an example of this involving a 1925 Beghi printing of a Lombardy/della Rocca deck at the Tarot Collectors Forum, in fact; I'll put it somewhere here as well :)

We also see the regular reversal of the Hanged Man. In fact, I've seen a lot of e-bay listings where the blurry cell-phone photo of cards laid out on someone's carpet show the Hanged Man reversed. People seem to want him head up.

So I think it's likely that the seemingly screwed-up numbering is part of "everything facing the wrong direction."

Re: The Hanged Man


This picture of Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff (1494) might remember the Italian "Hanging Man" on Trionfi cards. From the text it's clear, that the Fool is interpreted in the accompanying poem as "falling from the tree", when attempting to steal eggs of birds.

Re: The Hanged Man

Huck's fool in the tree might be related to the "Epigram of the Hermaphrodite," quoted by Jung in paragraph 89 of Mysterium Coniunctionis and attributed by him to Mathieu de Vendome (ca. 1150). He found it in Lorichius, Aenigmatum libri III, fol. 23r, Frankfurt 1545:
When my pregnant mother bore me in her womb,
they said she asked the gods what she wuold bear.
A boy, said Phoebus, a girl, said Mars, neither, said Juno.
And when I was born, I was a hermaphrodite.
Asked how I was to meet my end, the goddess replied: By arms;
Mars: on the cross; Phoebus: By water. All were right.
A tree overshadowed the waters, I climbed it;
the sword I had with me slipped, and I with it.
My foot caught in the branches, my head hung down in the stream;
And I--male, female, and neither--suffered by water, weapon, and cross.
Since it the poem has to do with the hermaphrodite, it is considered by O'Neill (following Fabricius, Alchemy, p. 102) an alchemical poem. O'Neill (Tarot Symbolism p. 281) relates it to the Hanged Man:
The tarot image is definitely related to the Epigram of the Hermaphrodite, an alchemical allegory of about 1150.
After summarizing the poem, he concludes that what is represented on the card, from an alchemical perspective--and considering more alchemical references than just this one--is "the intensification of the blackening stage which began with the Hermit. The glory of the first coniunctio has faded into darkness and despair...Now at last he is ready for the total surrender which is implied in the Hanged Man. ... The Hanged Man is the stage of surrender which prepares the alchemist for the mystical death which follows" (p. 282).

Given the image in Brandt, we might also say that the image represents a particularly macabre episode in the Fool's Journey to Hell. I see some symbolism to this effect in the Brandt drawing. Streams sometimes represent the division between this world and the next (e.g. Bosch's 2nd "Wayfarer" painting). So we have a stream here, with a pleasant town on the other side, and no bridge. Another thing is the birds. Some are actually upside-down. That was a frequent image in alchemical images, I'm not exactly sure what they represented: volatility, perhaps. Brandt's Fool is a victim of his own inflation. So we have Judas.

However the alchemical poem is more ambiguous: dying on the cross is suggested, perhaps a reference to St. Peter's crucifixion, or even Jesus's. The cross was sometimes called a tree. And the alchemist's Mercury was the elixir, the drink of eternal life. Wasn't it Jesus who said "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"? That fits O'Neill's Jungian reading of the card, as an imitatio Christi, including despair and rejection as one step along the way.

Re: The Hanged Man

I don't know, what the artist had in mind ... not each picture really refers to the text ... but ... :-) ... The ghost of Sebastian Brant definitely says NO to any alchemical relation ...


Man spuert wol in der alchemy
Und in des wynes artzeny
Was falsch und bschiss uff erden sey
Betrüger sint und falscher vil
Die toenen recht zum Narren spiel
Falsch lieb, falsch rot, falsch frünt, falsch gelt
Voll untruw ist yetz gantz die Welt

bschiss = Beschiss = rather strong word meaning "Cheating"

falsch = wrong

Also I think, that it is wrong to use the Narrenschiff in connection to the romantic "Journey of the Fool". The texts of the Narrenschiff are very similar to the style of modern "Büttenrede" during Carnival.

That's a Büttenrede in the "Mainz style" ... the text isn't very deciding. The form has rhymed text and the music presents after passages a "Ta" or a "Ta-Taa", if the public loves the text very much "Ta-Taa, Ta-Taa, Ta-Taa". Another repeating ritual is the music at begin.


The Cologne Carnival luckily has overcome the rhymed form ... :-) ... also there's a young critical form:


This was about the recent sharp critique against the Catholic church about sexual behavior of priests. It got itself a very sharp critique of the local church ... :-)


This was about writing errors in a negative love-letter.

Re: The Hanged Man

well, no, I wasn't trying to say that Brandt was a fan of alchemy. His fool in the tree conveys a very different message from the earlier hermaphrodite in the tree. I was trying to suggest that Brandt may have been using an alchemical motif for his own anti-alchemical purpose. I was also suggesting that the Hanged Man himself may relate more to the alchemical version than to Brandt's. The green leggings on the PMB hanged man, as well as his hanging over a hole, as though for planting, suggest a vegetation motif. As in John 12:24-25 (Douay-Rheims): "[24] Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, [25] Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (

Re: The Hanged Man

I forgot to thank you for the U-tube videos, Huck. They very much gives the type of setting for those Narr poems. I'm impressed.

Here are a couple of alchemical hanged men. The first is rather like Brandt's. These are from Johann Daniel Mylius's Opus medico-chymicum, 1618 Frankfurt. O'Neill cites them in his chapter on alchemy in Tarot Symbolism. The second one might be falling rather than hanging.


De Rola translates the words in the circles in his Golden Game, p. 152. He has the first motto as "This knowledge requires a true Philosopher not a foolish one." The one in the tree is apparently the foolish one. The second is, "It is not for Man's industry alone, but in God's hands, to will and encompass All in All." Not all ladders provided by angels lead to heaven,

Re: The Hanged Man

The Ship of Fool book was written and published in Basel. One has to assume for this time (1494) a generally increasing interest in carnival.
The Carnival of Basel (German: Basler Fasnacht) is the biggest carnival in Switzerland and takes place annually between February and March in Basel. It has been listed as one of the top fifty local festivities in Europe.
It remains unclear exactly why Carnival starts one week later in Basel than elsewhere in Switzerland or Germany.

The common explanation is that after the Reformation in 1520, Basel continued celebrating its Fasnacht, while the other regions officially stopped. It is said, that in order to differ from the Catholic customs, Fasnacht was scheduled one week later starting in 1529. There are no documents from this era supporting this theory, and the resolutions from 1529 were not quoted until 200 years later.

Historians note that the Catholic carnival date was rescheduled six days earlier in 1091 in the Council of Benevent, because the Sundays were excluded from the 40-day fasting period before Easter, making Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent. From then until the 16th century, the two carnival dates existed. The first one, ending on Ash Wednesday, was known as the Herren- or Pfaffenfasnacht (lords' or priests' carnival) and was observed by those members of the higher echelons of society. The second, one week later at the old time, was known as the Bauernfasnacht (farmers' carnival). Afterwards, only this second carnival was celebrated in Basel.

Today, the Carnival of Basel is said to be "the only Protestant carnival in the world".
Basel became of very great importance in the period of early printing industry ... and of reformation.

Numbers of the Wiegendrucke:
Venice 4347
Rome 2277
Milan 1206
Florence 1066
Bologna 638
Pavia 360
Brescia 342
Neapel 332
Padova 175
Vicenza 130
Ferrara 129
Treviso 116

Paris 3796
Lyon 1608
Rouen 235
Toulouse 131
Poitiers 117

Cologne 1752
Leipzig 1526
Strassburg 1368
Augsburg 1348
Nurremberg 1155
Basel 937
Ulm 432
Mainz 418
Speyer 358
Luebeck 301
Reutlingen 258
Bamberg 168
Memmingen 161
Magdeburg 139
Erfurt 134
Wuerzburg 111

Deventer 706
Antwerpen 547
Loewen 291
Delft 165
Zwolle 164
Gouda 129

Sevilla 186
Salamanca 174
Barcelona 146
Zaragossa 123
Burgos 111
Valencia 107

Westminster 219
London 159

Genf 129

Wien 111


In one big list it looks this way:

Venice 4347
Paris 3796
Rome 2277
Cologne 1752
Lyon 1608
Leipzig 1526
Strassburg 1368
Augsburg 1348
Milan 1206
Nurremberg 1155
Florence 1066
Basel 937
Deventer 706
Bologna 638
Antwerpen 547
Ulm 432
Mainz 418
Freiburg 49
Strassburg (130 km distance), Freiburg (70 km distance) and Basel (all three living with close connections) have together more book productions till 1500 than Rome. Especially Basel is extending at the begin of 16th century (Erasmus lives here, also others).
Das Konzil von Basel, das 1439 den Gegenpapst Felix V. wählte (→ Papstwahl am Basler Münster), tagte von 1431 bis 1449 in der Stadt. Um 1433 begann die Papierfabrikation in Basel. Ein eidgenössisches Kontingent unterlag 1444 in der Schlacht bei St. Jakob einem französischen Söldnerheer. Die Universität, die erste im Gebiet der heutigen Schweiz, wurde 1460 durch Papst Pius II. gestiftet. 1471 verlieh Kaiser Friedrich III. der Stadt das Messeprivileg. Um diese Zeit wurde in Basel auch der Buchdruck eingeführt. In der Folge kam es zu einem kulturellen Aufschwung: Neben dem Humanisten Erasmus von Rotterdam weilten auch Paracelsus, Sebastian Brant und Hans Holbein der Jüngere in Basel.

Im Schwaben- bzw. Schweizerkrieg 1499 wandte sich Basel der Eidgenossenschaft zu, der es am 13. Juli 1501 als 11. Ort beitrat. Eine Änderung in der Ratsverfassung, die den Zünften die Vormachtstellung sicherte, erfolgte 1521. Nach einem Zunftaufstand trat Basel 1529 zur Reformation über. Am 12. Mai 1529 siedelten die Domherren und Kapläne, welche nicht zur Reformation wechselten oder auf ihre Nebenpfründen zogen, nach Freiburg im Breisgau um. Am 28. August 1529 schloss das Domkapitel mit der Stadt Freiburg einen Vertrag über die rechtlichen und steuerlichen Belange, den Erwerb von Häusern, Kapitel- und Amtshaus sowie über die Benützung des Münsters. Damit war Basel nicht mehr der Sitz des Bischofs und auch nicht mehr des Domkapitels und wurde es auch nie wieder.
1433 Paper production in Basel
1439 Felix is chosen as anti-Pope
1460 new University
1471 trade fair
1501 Basel goes to Switzerland
1529 Basel goes to the reformation party
Nowadays Basel has 170.000 inhabitants ... that's small. In contrast to earlier times: Basel was very important then. The Italy-Rhine route went via Basel and Strassburg.
The council of Basel 1431-1449 endured much longer than the council of Ferrara and Florence. As we know, this council of Ferrara-Florence was of very high importance for the development of the Italian Trionfi movement ... with triumphal processions, festivities and as a small side product also Trionfi cards.

Now ... with Basel and its Ship of the Fools and its Fastnacht we naturally have a counter product AGAINST Italian influences ... inclusive reformation (1529) and revolution (1499/1501) against the Empire.

The Ship of Fools is from 1494 ... then Basel was still part of the Empire. In 1493 we have a new promising Emperor Maximilian and short time later 1493/94 we have then a marriage between Maximilian and an Italian princess (Bianca Maria Sforza), which is especially fond of (Italian) playing cards.
The entourage of the princess does NOT go via Basel, but took another way across the Alps.

... :-) we should expect some critical distance in the Basel region ...


Well, the Basel carnival is different. You have the rather consequent use of full-face-masks (often made of wood and often very worthwhile, used more than once) ... groups often have the same mask, that's often very uniform

... :-) ... so much discipline and group binding you don't find in Cologne Carnival usually.



... :-) best you forget about the alchemical context. The first, who fall from heaven, was the genital of Uranos. Then came Hephaistos and then Phaeton and Ikarus, and that was all mainly mythology and not alchemical experiments.

Alchemical pictures used general ideas, not vice versa.


Köln Rosenmontagszug: 1.000.000 visitors, a lot of further persons see the show at TV
... very much other Rosenmontagszüge in other cities at the same day
... a lot of other Carnival processions in the same period of 6 days of Carnival, mostly Sunday

The Rosenmontagszug Köln alone (7 km in length - the participants walk or drive 6.5 km; it takes 4 hours):
Der Rosenmontagzug in Zahlen

Länge des Zuges ca. 7 Kilometer, Länge des Zugweges ca. 6,5 Kilometer, Vorbeimarschzeit ca. 4 Stunden, 99 Fest-, Prunk-, Persiflagewagen und Kutschen, 87 Traktoren, 78 Bagagewagen (diese führen das Wurfmaterial mit), 10.200 Teilnehmer, 124 Musikkapellen und 440 Pferde. Etwa 800 Wagenbegleiter sorgen dafür, dass während des Zuges niemand "unter die Räder" kommt.

Wurfmaterial: 150 Tonnen Süßigkeiten, über 700.000 Tafeln Schokolade, über 220.000 Schachteln Pralinen, über 300.000 Strüßjer (kleine Blumensträuße), Tausende Stoffpuppen und weitere kleinere Präsente.

Verwendetes Material für den Bau der Wagen, Großfiguren etc: 4.000 Meter Dachlatten, 15.000 Meter Bindedraht, 1.500 Quadratmeter Maschendraht, 320 Quadratmeter Hartfaser-/Span- und Tischlerplatten, 1.800 Kilogramm Nägel, Schrauben und sonstige Kleinteile, 2.000 Kilogramm Farbe, 2.000 Kilogramm Kleber/Kleister, 120 Quadratmeter Schaumstoff, 40 Kubikmeter Styropor, 720 Kilogramm Papier.

That's a typical "hanging man" during the carnival season (which starts at 11.11.). He's called the "Nubbel" (earlier "Zacheies") in Cologne ... he's "hanging around" at many places and burnt in the night of Karnevals-Dienstag (Veilchendienstag), English known as Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday. Well, Karneval is over then.

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