Re: The Star

#21
I think you're right on track pen. Although Noblet, for instance, is from 1650ish, he certainly was copying a pattern that was a copy of a pattern, that was a copy of a pattern, etc.. going back many generations for probably 150-200 years! What's amazing is the amount of consitancy, it's the little changes that allow you to track things over time and place. As has been suggested by R. A. Hendley above, Noblet was most likely a craftsman, out to make a living, producing a popular deck of cards in response to demand. I think he would have cared about "craftsmanship".. to some level, and he would have been intimately familiar with the colours and lines, but I wouldn't think of most of these cardmakers as making any sort of "statement" in their artwork. With some cardmakers, I wouldn't even go that far, they were out to mass produce a product.

I think the critical thing to keep in mind about the time period is that we have to look at the early *remaining* TdMs from the point of view that they are the few, few chance survivors, and that they represent a miniscule number of the original decks, probably most with minor variations. I always keep this quote from Dummett in mind:

“A million is probably a highly conservative estimate for the number of Tarot packs produced in France during the seventeenth century; of those, no more than four have survived to us.”

So, out of a million, in France, in the 1600s, four remain. Of those, we have the Noblet, and possibly the Chosson as Tarot de Marseille, and the Vieville if we'd like to include it because of its obvious relationship. I always try to keep in mind how small our "sample" is for our research.

That said, the bird appearing or disappearing is exactly the type of thing that interests me as it helps to show relationships. Sometimes, clear copying errors can be seen by comparing and contrasting. Sometime, perhaps some invention. Certainly, comparing the Tarot de Marseille I and II is absolutely fascinating to see what they have in common and how they differ. Even comparing decks like the Chosson and the Conver, which on the surface seem like duplicates, show many little differences in the lines. Many, many enjoyable hours can be spent studying these things, and it's probably what I enjoy most about the cards.
The Tarot will lose all its vitality for one who allows himself to be side-tracked by its pedantry. - Aleister Crowley

Re: The Star

#22
R.A. Hendley wrote:No doubt the Marseille image is nymph-esqe. Of course during the period this deck was manufactured, biblical themes were often depicted in rather 'pagan' ways. Pagan? Jewish? Christian? Heck, I haven't got a clue. :( It must have been a 'known' theme, to have appeared in a popular game. I guess it is just a matter digging through loads of obscure period art and literature to find something similar that could have inspired the card maker.
How classical pagan elements mixed with Christian symbols is an interesting and complex subject. The similarity between the Star card in the Christian allegory of Tarot de Marseille / Cary Sheet Tarot and the classical Venus of the pseudo-Mantegna series is noteworthy. I think the only book I have read that speaks of how Christian and pagan imagery and symbols intermixed is Seznec. Today on the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera there is an article about a new book, which reminded me of this thread:
"Corpi gloriosi" by Fumagalli Beonio Brocchieri and Guidorizzi

Google translation of some of the page:
Saint Brendan of Ireland sailed to unknown lands as Ulysses, moved by the desire to know; Gregory the Great as Oedipus hides in his heart the shame of incest; Magdalene as Elena appears irresistibly seductive. St. George defeats the dragon like Perseus: in stories and legends about medieval saints revived the myth of ancient heroes.
Even the Christian heroes intervene in favor of the people, fighting injustice, civilizing new lands. They face hardships with superhuman courage. Like the Greek heroes are mortal and endowed with extraordinary powers: they can perform wonders or miracles, stopping monsters and plagues, in order to fight evil and ward off disasters.
In classical imagery, the obvious interpretation for a female figure representing a Star is Venus (the Leber deck and the all-trumps Folengo sonnet confirm this in a Tarot context). We also know that the star is associated to the birth of Christ. This is why a star appears on the shoulder of Mary in the images posted by Steve and myself (and a star appears on the shoulder of the Cary Sheet star). Nicoletto's engraving places the star in a context in which also the Sun and the Moon appear. The “Stella Matutina” image features the rising Sun, a bird on a tree, water, a defeated Devil in the background and a textual reference: Apocalypse 22:16 “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star”. In classical terms, the morning star is Venus. In Christian terms, the morning star is the hope in a new day after the night of death and sin.

Re: The Star

#23
I hope it's OK to put this here, as it seems 'grounding'.

Luke: 21.25 - 28, King James Bible
25. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26. Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: The Star

#24
Pen wrote:I hope it's OK to put this here, as it seems 'grounding'.

Luke: 21.25 - 28, King James Bible
25. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26. Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.



This is a very significant verse. It is the Gospel for the Mass for the first Sunday of Advent(1). It would have been sang on the Sunday and at the Masses the following week(2), if there was not a Saint's Day, which would have it's own Gospel. It would have also been the topic of the homily. So every person in Latin Rite Christendom, literate or not, would have known this verse.



(1)Advent is the beginning of the Liturgical year, and would have been, in those days, a period of serious fasting, prayer and penance, so the Church started her year, and this period, with a gentle reminder of "the End Times."

(2)Your average Catholic in the 15th century didn't read the Bible, they listened to it sang at Mass everyday. Every Sunday and feast day would have featured a different short Gospel section, and a short Epistle (which sometimes would be an Old Testament section, and not a Epistle proper). This was on a yearly cycle, unlike the modern "Vatican II" three year cycle instituted in 1965. The average Catholic was thus exposed to roughly half the New Testament, and a tiny bit of the Old Testament. The selections however were the most important and significant parts of the Bible, and being repeated each year, were well known and took on a seasonal significants. The homily and various prayers that accompanied these Bible sections helped put them clearly into the context of the liturgical cycle and Church doctrine. We might say the old Latin Rite was more about quality and clarity, than quantity.
When a clock is hungry, it goes back four seconds.

Re: The Star

#25
Hi, RAH, Pen,

Pen used the term "grounding", which seems exactly right. This "signs in the Heavens" motif seems to be the most fundamental significance of the three celestial cards.
R.A. Hendley wrote:This is a very significant verse. It is the Gospel for the Mass for the first Sunday of Advent(1). It would have been sang on the Sunday and at the Masses the following week(2), if there was not a Saint's Day, which would have it's own Gospel. It would have also been the topic of the homily. So every person in Latin Rite Christendom, literate or not, would have known this verse.
Exactly.

In Revelation there are two great triumphs, over the Devil and over Death. In a lot of art, the Devil and Death were shown being trampled by a resurrected Christ or by Christ in Judgment. In the highest section of the trumps, the lowest card is the Devil who is immediately destroyed by fire from heaven. (Rev. 20) The signs in the heavens indicate the second coming, and the highest cards show the Last Resurrection and the New World. And, of course, there are all sorts of variations, including the Florentine Triumph of Fame.

There are assorted illustrations of the signa coeli, often with Jesus explaining the signs to the Evangelists as in Luke 21. Here are a few at the British Museum.

Signs in the Heavens
Signs in the Heavens
Signs in the Heavens
Signs in the Heavens
Signs in the Heavens
Signs in the Heavens
Signs in the Heavens
Signs in the Heavens
Signs in the Heavens

This is probably the underlying significance of the subjects in their sequence. Each card then has a secondary meaning conflated with it, like Diogenes and Alexander for the Sun. Diogenes is irrelevant for the sequential meaning, but an obvious subject for a Sun card. The three Wise Men, often shown on the Star, along with the fact that the card was known as the Star rather than Stars, suggest that this card was being conflated with the symbol of the First Advent at the same time that the larger context referred to the Second Advent. So the secondary meaning of the subject might be completely irrelevant or obliquely related, rather than directly connected as we might prefer.

Signa Coeli is the simplest generic explanation that I've come up with, although each particular deck must be considered in terms of specific iconography and ordering.

Best regards,
Michael

P.S. For those wishing to invent an Ur Tarot scenario, it is worth taking into account that the motifs described above, both Christ triumphing over figures of the Devil and death and the illustrations of the signa coeli shown at the British Museum, are mainly German. Combine that observation with the recently publicized information about German and Dutch artists in Florence, and the earliest references to Tarot coming from Florence. These add to the larger scenario that Ross has assembled for a "Southern" (Bologna or Florence) origin story.
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.

Re: The Star

#26
I agree that the "signa coeli" are the better framework for understanding the Star, Moon, Sun sequence. Let's call this the "eschatological interpretation". I think that also Fire from Heaven (i.e. The Tower) could be included: it is not mentioned in Luke 21, but of course it appears in the Book of Revelation.

A slightly different (and largely compatible) interpretation is the cosmological one, that is well exemplified in the Anonymous Discourse: "we rise with our eyes and intellects to the Heavens, the Star, the Moon and the Sun, the supernatural creatures of God".

I think the two interpretations are compatible because the eschatological narrations in the bible are modelled on the creation as narrated in the Genesis, which is modelled on the cosmological structure of the universe. The cosmological interpretation says something like: “the order of the universe is a proof of the existence and power of God”.

Now I wonder if this cosmological point of view, in particular as presented in Job 38, could be related to the interpretation of the Tarot de Marseille Star card:
“1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: 2 "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

15 The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. 16 "Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? 17 Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death ?

25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, 26 to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, 27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? 28 Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? 29 From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens 30 when the waters become hard as stone, when the surface of the deep is frozen? 31 "Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? 32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? 33 Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up [God's] dominion over the earth? 34 "Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? 35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'? 36 Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind ? 37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens 38 when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? 39 Will you hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions 40 when they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait? 41 Who provides for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat”
I have come to this passage through the reference to the Pleiades and the “water jars of the heavens” (I am not sure these “jars” were in the vulgata). Apparently, the Pleiades were astrologically connected to heavy rains: " By heaven’s law Jove had drawn the Pleiads' stormy constellation down from the firmament as he rolled the earth upon its everlasting course, and straightway rain streams everywhere" Valerius Flaccus, Argonautica 2. 357

So, this could provide some thin support to the constellation of the Pleiades appearing in the Star card. With a good amount of wishful thinking, the raven in 38:41 could also be a candidate for the bird at the top of the tree.


Another even more far fetched candidate as a constellation for the star card is Virgo, because it is somehow related to Virgin Mary and the birth of Jesus:


"We have in the first decade the Sign of the Virgin, following the most ancient tradition of thePersians, the Chaldeans, the Egyptians, Hermes and Æsculapius, a young woman called in thePersian language, Seclinidos de Darzama; in the Arabic, Aderenedesa —that is to say, a chaste, pure, immaculate virgin, suckling an infant, which some nations call Jesus (i. e., Saviour), but which we in Greek call Christ." (Abulmazer)

"In the first decade of the Virgin, rises a maid, called in Arabic, 'Aderenedesa,' that is: 'pure immaculate virgin,' graceful in person, charming in countenance, modest in habit, with loosened hair, holding in her hands two ears of wheat, sitting upon an embroidered throne, nursing a boy, and rightly feeding him in the place called Hebraea. A boy, I say, names Iessus by certain nations,which signifies Issa, whom they also call Christ in Greek." (Kircher, OEdipus AEgyptiacus. Tom. III. cap. v. p. 203)

“A maiden wrapped in a cloak, and wearing worn out clothes, with a jug in her hand, and she stands in myrtle, and she wants to go to her father's house.” (Ibn-Ezra, first decanate of the Virgin, quoted in “Scion's guide to the Decans”).


But the common iconography has Virgo holding an ear of grain, not a child or a jug.


I think that these hypotheses are too complex and uncommon to appear in the tarot sequence. If one really wants to go for an astrological secondary meaning to match the obviously astrological crab in the Moon card, in my opinion Aquarius and Venus remain the most reasonable candidates.

Re: The Star

#27
marco wrote: I have come to this passage through the reference to the Pleiades and the “water jars of the heavens” (I am not sure these “jars” were in the vulgata).
Right. The Vulgate has -

"quis enarravit caelorum rationem et concentum caeli quis dormire faciet"

which the Douay-Rheims translates as -

"Who can declare the order of the heavens, or who can make the harmony of heaven to sleep?"

http://www.latinvulgate.com/verse.aspx?t=0&b=20&c=38

For what it's worth, the LXX has "And who is he that numbers the clouds in wisdom, and has bowed the heaven down to the earth?"

(trans. Lancelot Brenton)

It seems there is a confusion in the tradition of the second part of this verse.
Image

Re: The Star

#28
Wow, I simple can't keep up with all the information generated on this thread. I REALLY want to dig into all the Christian connections. And I did not know the illustrations of the signa coeli (again wow)

But I feel committed to undo some misunderstandings that I've created. So, for now, I will focus on my original Tarot de Marseille Star issue.
R.A. Hendley wrote
I'm not convinced that the Tarot de Marseille has a unifying symbolism, as you stated above.
Well Hendley, I swear I can communicate better in Portuguese. Lol.

Let me explain myself. When you analyse a card inside the Tarot tradition, there are two main ways available:
1) to see how it fits with the other cards on the same deck on family of decks.
2) to see how it fits with the same card on other decks

I just don't do (1) much. Maybe there was a story behind the 22 major arcane on the very earliest decks. Maybe not. But I don't think that "Jean Noblet, maitre-cartier (master cardmaker), living at Saint Germaine-des Prés, rue Sainte Marguerite, paroisse (parish) Sainte Suplice in Paris" was a keeper of mystic secrets. He was an artist, trying to enjoy his own creativity while making money. And probably contributed to destroy the original deck-as-a-whole meaning, if it ever have one.

But I was talking about (2). If you take all the Star cards up to early XVIII century and try to discover a common underline symbolism behind every one of them, you will find "star(s)". Nothing more. But all Tarot de Marseille cardmakers tried to copy each other (manly because the product was relatively cheap to produce and pleased their customers). But they were also artists, so they probably tried to understand each other while making contributions. This is what I meant about a "unifying symbolism" on Tarot de Marseille. I should, at least, have explained that I think there is a unifying symbolism between all Tarot de Marseille's Stars up to Nicolas Conver. Sorry.
Pen wrote:
So we know that much, but without more - for example that he belonged to a particular society that would indicate certain interests - trying to work out what was in his mind is pretty much impossible.
I disagree Pen. I don't know if Jean Noblet was the original creator of the Tarot de Marseille style. Maybe he was just copping a unknown card marker named Jos Bleau that died in misery, cursing Noblet for stealing his clients, and none of his decks or registers survived. Tragic as it would be, it does not matter much. Jean Noblet/Jos Bleau was, unlike Jean Dodal, Nicolas Conver etc, a very original artist. He was creating a new style. It would be very nice if we have his personal diary, but it is not impossible to understand him. It is just darn hard and very risky to mess with and get things wrong. But that's the fun of Science.

We have some of the decks he could have seen. We know the Tarot' general tradition at time. We have access to French paintings at time. Really, we have a lot of sources and data.

The scientific method is simple. First: we collect all data available. Second: an apple fall on our head and we have a creative theory. Third: we test, as hard as we can: (a) if it does not contradict some reliable evidence, (b) if this theory fits better than others available and (c) if it has good explanatory power. If a theory passes all tests we, on provisional basis, accept it and reject the others.

I've tried to test my Tarot de Marseille star theory the best I can and:
(a) I did not find any contradictions with the information available. But I still can, if new information is available to me.
(b) It has less holes than all alternatives I've collected. But I am still trying to find alternatives.
(c) I came with the Pleiades theory first and I managed to use it to explain the bird that was not on Jean Noblet's and therefore was not built in the original theory. So the theory demonstrated, up to now, good explanatory power

The funny thing about the scientific method is that the true scientist does not try to proof his theory right. This is impossible, even on Physics. He asks the world to prove his theory wrong and, if no one can, he (provisionally) embraces it. I've put my theory to the best group I know on Tarot history. This is as hard to try to prove me wrong as I can think of.
Pen wrote:
Carelessness and misunderstanding in copying the images could account for anything from gender reversal to the sudden appearance of the bird in the bush, who might even have sprung into being as a misinterpreted ink speck on an old deck of cards that was being copied.
I very much agree. I try to avoid "ink speck" theory because, well, I don't like it. lol. But misunderstanding is certainly important on Tarot de Marseille creation and evolution. It is only more interesting when I can create a story behind the misunderstanding that fits the theory as a whole. Like the mixing Alcyones angle causing the bird. The difference is that the "ink speck" is an ad-hoc hypotheses that just dismiss the data, but the "mixing Alcyones" uses the existing theory and extends consistently it to new data.

Of course I can be completely wrong. But Einstein proved that Newton was wrong and Newton's theory was and is still useful. That's all I can hope for.

I know I write a lot. I am sorry. I really try not to be boring but it is on my nature. lol

Tomorrow is Easter, so, even if you are atheistic or have other religion, I wish you all Peace in Christ, :ymhug:
What the heck was on the Tarot de Marseille original creator mind ?

Re: The Star

#29
marco wrote:
I have come to this passage through the reference to the Pleiades and the “water jars of the heavens” (I am not sure these “jars” were in the vulgata).
Marco, I love the book of Job, but I am not very attentive on details. So I am ashamed to confess that I've missed completely this Pleiades and the “water jars of the heavens” reference. I thank you a lot.

But, for interpretation of the Tarot de Marseille Star, I don't think that the Vulgata is the ultimate reference. I very much doubt that the original book on Aramaic or Hebrew used the name Pleiades anyway. But what matters is what Jean Noblet used to hear when he went to the Church. French translations on the Bible were available at least from 1530. And his Father could use Pleiades and “water jars of the heavens” during his the homily. Most of the mass was in Latin but the homily was for people understanding.

My favorite (modern) Portuguese translation use both:
Ave Maria Bible in Portuguese:
31. És tu que atas os laços das Plêiades, ou que desatas as correntes do Órion?
32. És tu que fazes sair a seu tempo as constelações, e conduzes a grande Ursa com seus filhinhos?
33. Conheces as leis do céu, regulas sua influência sobre a terra?
34. Levantarás a tua voz até as nuvens, e o dilúvio te obedecerá?
35. Tua ordem fará os relâmpagos surgirem, e dir-te-ão eles: Eis-nos aqui?
36. Quem pôs a sabedoria nas nuvens, e a inteligência no meteoro?
37. Quem pode enumerar as nuvens, e inclinar as urnas do céu,
Does anyone know what the French translations of the Bible used to say on middle XVII century?

This could provide some Catholic motivation for Noblet's use of the Pleiades. I agree that it is a thin support by itself, but it builds up with the rest. Greek-Roman pictures where in fashion. Noblet could have used the connection Star-Job-Pleiades Constelation-Nynph iconography. He was an artist and that is the kind of thing an artist do.

But I agree with you that the explanation of the bird with the raven in 38:41 is overusing the biblical connection. Dodal created the bird 50 years later. He had Noblet's card as a model. It is reasonable that he could be aware of the Pleiades meaning. But I think that suppose he would be also aware of the Job connection is too much.

Thank you again for the connection!
What the heck was on the Tarot de Marseille original creator mind ?

Re: The Star

#30
Catholic wrote:Dodal created the bird 50 years later. He had Noblet's card as a model.
Did he?

I think it far more likely that Dodal knew nothing of Noblet at all. Noblet seems an anomaly, there is only one other existing deck like it in the world that I know if, and that's the Francois Heri TdB. Of course, the Noblet and Dodal share a lot of genetic similarities. Dodal seems to have been a much more common pattern, or at least, again, it has more remaining relatives with similar genes. They are both part of a family, but it's a pretty large family with many, many distant relatives who would never have met each other.

I think it pretty likely that Noblet and Dodal are both based off earlier models going all the way back to a common ancestor. We should remember that just because we only have a few decks remaining from the period, that that number is extremely tiny compared to how many hundreds of thousands of decks were in production.

That said, I think it is possible that the cardmaker Jean Noblet redrew a deck in the 1650s, it's also possible that he simply copied an already existing pattern, which would have been much easier and was clearly a common practice. We don't know. Dodal seems to me to very likely have simply copied an existing pattern, rather than to have "created" anything at all, just because we have cards like the Sforza Castle World card which, at least to me, indicate the type of model.

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

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