Re: Pratesi Oct. 2016: tarot origins

I want to say something about Moakley's 1956 suggestion, that each Petrarchan triumph corresponded not to one card but to a group, in order but excluding Fame from the list, except in minchiate (presented by Franco at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1092&start=20#p17714). The Triumph of Love would include all the cards up to Love. Then Chastity would apply to the second group, up to the Hanged Man. Death would apply to the next five, Time to the Hermit, and Eternity to the last five, as in the following chart ( ... ge=II-I.en).

Now for my comments. To include all these various cards, the concept of "love" must be somewhat broader than it is in Petrarch, to include love of God (Pope, Popess), love of family and the social hierarchy(emperor, empress), perhaps love of the bizarre or, if the Bateleur is offering the shell game, riches. In that way he triumphs over the Fool, if that card was originally number 1. Either or both (or a hybrid) can triumph over--i.e. get the better of--Kings and so, while being the lowest of their suit, higher than any of the regular suit cards.

For Chastity, the idea of including a variety of virtues gets some support in the poem itself, where Chastity is not alone but has other virtues with her (see section 1 above). But Justice is not one of them, nor Temperance or Fortitude. In Petrarch, is specifically the virtues that have a particular relation to sexual morality: modesty, shame, fear of infamy. But Temperance, i.e. self-control, is also related to Chastity, and so is Fortitude. To include Justice as well, we have to go beyond sex, to Virtue. We need not be faithful to Petrarch; but the deck is getting further from the poems.

Moakley suggested that the celestials belong with Eternity, whereas Huck put them with Time. Well, in Petrarch, the Star is in both Fame (as an "amorous star", an object of love by those that desire her) and Eternity. And Time is the whirling of the heavens, with the Sun his main image. Eternity is the end of all that Yet it creates everything (including Fame, Chastity, and Love, I think) in a new form (( ... ge=VI-I.en):
...If all things
That are beneath the heavens are to fail,
How, after many circlings, will they end?

So ran my thought; and as I pondered it
More and more deeply, I at last beheld
A world made new and changeless and eternaL
I saw the sun, the heavens, and the stars
And land and sea unmade, and made again
More beauteous and more joyous than before.
Past, present, future: these I saw combined
In a single term, and that unchangeable:
No swiftness now, as there had been before.
The sun no more will pause in the Bull or the Fish,...
So apparently the celestials exist in a new form after the end of time, without whirling. But in that case, as I have said earlier in this thread, they lose their special relationship to the triumph in which they appear. So I think Moakley is wrong, at least in the sense of not fitting the poem. The celestials belong to Petrarchan Time. On the other hand, Petrarchan Time can be modified to fit the celestials: in the ancient pagan world it was thought that the celestials were "eternal, but in time". It is a non-biblical concept of Time. Then we avoid the awkward predicament of having three cards representing Time in one place, and 1 card representing Time in another.

In medieval symbolism, the celestials did sometimes represent time. If so, the Old Man's hourglass is either a relic of times gone by, when it did represent Petrarchan Time, or it never did represent the whirlings after death, but only those before death. Either way, his position before Death is a modification of Petrarch. But if we can modify Love and Chastity, why not also Time?

We are left with Fame and Eternity. In minchiate, there is a Fama card, the card ordinarily then called Angel and later Judgment. In Petrarch, Judgment is associated only with the triumph of Eternity:
No secret shall be covered or be hid,
And every conscience, be it clear or dark,
Will then be open before all the world.
There will be One whose judgment will be sure,
And we shall see each sinner go his way
Like a driven beast seeking a forest cave.

Since Eternity is also the last Petrarchan triumph, it makes sense that the Angel of Judgment should be associated with Eternity. However the Angel is also associated with Fama, in the sense of "eternal glory" and also by the trumpet. Y Either is plausible.

Then there is the question of what to do with the card called the World. Is it part of the "Eternity" group? If so, then it represents the transcendence of the World, in the sense of the material world. Maybe a figure standing on a circle representing the world can count as such, especially if it is part of group and so doesn't have to be last, as in the A order. In the B order, it could represent Eternity easily, since it is after the Angel of Judgment and God's Justice.

But in the A order cards it also has attributes of Fame: the Boccaccian globe and sword, and the circle containing the world. If so, the figure on top of the world would be "on top of the world", in the sense of being master of it. There is also the question of the PMB World card: is it the Fame of Sforza's remodeled city, or the New Jerusalem, which looks rather like Sforza's program?

Yet some, historically, seem to have felt uncomfortable about its being Fame, especially when in the B and C orders, where it is at the end of the sequence and has no particular attributes of Fame. So Alciati calls the 14th card Fama and has no Temperance card. And Vieville gives the lady pouring from one vessel to another with the words "FAMA SOL".

I also wonder whether the Star card might be considered Fame. Another candidate might be the Tower card; the tower of Babel, according to the vulgate, was built to "make our name famous:
venite faciamus nobis civitatem et turrem cuius culmen pertingat ad caelum et celebremus nomen nostrum...

(...let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous.)
The card would be a moral lesson about the evil of working for earthly fame.

To sum up: Moakley's idea has the virtue of including all the cards. However to fit any existing order, Petrarchan concepts, including their order, have to be adjusted considerably. And even then it is not clear which cards go where, or if one or more triumph simply doesn't fit.

This is not to say that something like Moakley's thinking didn't affect the order and make-up of the 22 triumphs. For Love, the generalized idea does fit. For Chastity, the B order fits best, since Fortitude and Temperance are not hard to relate to Chastity, whereas Justice fits more easily with Eternity and the Last Judgment. If the concept of Chastity is further generalized to include Virtue generally, then the A order fits best.

However this result must be qualified: even Milan has a good claim to fit Petrarch, however not in the 16th century C order but earlier, because in the Cary-Yale all but one of the Petrarchans are represented, and that one, Time, is represented in the PMB. In that case, however, the Petrarchans apply not to groups but only to those specific cards, and whether they fit the Petrarchan order is not clear. For the 5 that have survived, following the order suggested by the Beinecke suit-assignments, they in fact do, as can be seen by the titles in all capitals that I reproduced before.

From this perspective, that Temperance follows Death is not a change from a pre-existing order where it preceded Death (as in A and B), but rather a property of an even earlier order in Milan

Re: Pratesi Oct. 2016: tarot origins

I want to emphasize, vis a vis Phaeded, that to get 14 cards out of the three groups Imperatori (2 cards), Petrarchans (6 cards), and Virtues (7 cards), one of these 15 has to either be eliminated or conflated with another. It does not matter which it is, and there are various possibilities, e.g.. Fame conflated with Prudence in the World card (or one of these eliminated), Chastity with Fame in the Chariot card (or one eliminated), Prudence with Time in the Old Man card (the same), Fame and Eternity in the Angel or World card, etc. It does not matter to the hypotheses which of these it is, or even something else. Also, the elimination/conflation hypothesis applies chiefly to Ferrara and Bologna, where all the 14 card evidence, ambiguous as it is, is located. In Florence and Milan, the 16 of minchiate is a more likely intermediate step, forgotten or refigured when the 22 standard cards are reached. Deciding which cards derive from which of the three basic groups is not important to the thesis, as long as there is at least one plausible way of doing it. If there is more than one, so be it.

Re: Pratesi Oct. 2016: tarot origins

mikeh wrote:I want to emphasize, vis a vis Phaeded, that to get 14 cards out of the three groups Imperatori (2 cards), Petrarchans (6 cards), and Virtues (7 cards), one of these 15 has to either be eliminated or conflated with another.
Or there is a single literary source that readily offers 14/21 subjects, without recourse to an act of bricolage in which three sources are selected for reasons that are beyond obscure. I appreciate that you are you working at the evidence first and then finding something that explains it, but there is no self-evident rationale - motive, if you will - that compelled someone to squeeze parts of the Imperatori, Petrarchan triumphs and Virtues into a new series. Its an explanation, but one without meaning.

There is no reason to combine the triumphs and the Virtues (did anyone ever do this?). But the weakest link is the Imperatori, as the prototype for the Emperor, Caesar, is first named in Petrarch's Triumph of Love, so why would he be elevated outside of that Triumph, upsetting the whole hierarchy of the triumphal series itself?
Some of his captives die forthwith; and some
More pitilessly ruled, live out their lives
Under a thousand chains and a thousand keys.
He who so lordly and so proud appears,
First of us all, is Caesar, whom in Egypt
Cleopatra bound, amid the flowers and grass.
Now over him there is triumph; and 'tis well,
Since he, though conqueror of the world, was vanquished,
That Love, who vanquished him, should have the glory.

Re: Pratesi Oct. 2016: tarot origins

It isn't the content of the poems that is important for the construction of the CY, just their titles and, at least for the most part, their order, for the idea of "triumphing over" something earlier in the series. The "love" on the card is not the same as the love in the poem, as I've said several times in connection with this hypothesis; indeed, I think you've said it, too. There is no mention of any emperor, or even emperor-"prototype" (not actual emperor, mind you), in the title "triumph of love".

Re: Pratesi Oct. 2016: tarot origins

I want to address myself to a passage from Dummett's Il Mondo e l'Angelo. I take it from viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1019&p=15162&hilit ... ogy#p15162 (up to the discussion of Moakley) and viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1019&p=15152&hilit ... dea#p15152 (Moakley), where the original Italian can also be found. It is at the end of his chapter 4:
The proof of Bolognese origin is very weak. In favor of an origin in Ferrara is the fact that the first documentary mention of the Tarot comes from Ferrara; but we know that the invention of tarot cards should be many years before this hint [accenno], and therefore the origin of the cue [accenno] is purely fortuitous. A more robust reason to suppose that Ferrara was the birthplace of the Tarot comes from the cultural environment of the Este court. However, the Marziano/Michelino deck provides direct evidence that Filippo Maria Visconti was interested from the beginning of his reign in experimenting with new types of playing cards; it is likely that his experiments culminate in the tarot deck as we know it. We do not have here a demonstration of the invention of tarot cards at the court of the Visconti of Milan; but pending further testing, this is the most likely hypothesis.

We can therefore draw up a provisional chronology, based of necessity on conjecture; the dates of course are approximate:

1428: Tarot cards were invented in the court of the Visconti.
1430: the Este court in Ferrara knows the tarot.
1435: tarot spread to Bologna.
1440: card makers begin to produce decks of tarot cards at a good price, printed by woodblock.
1442 tarot spread from Bologna to Florence.
1444: The composition of the tarot deck becomes standardized everywhere.

For now it is not possible to respond better to the question of when and where exactly the tarot was invented.

Before considering the scope of the invention, it is worth asking why the additional cards were called 'triumphs'.

Many have tried to explain the word "triumph", with the use of twenty-one trumps in the game, that is, as those that 'triumph' over the other cards; and we are not able to demonstrate the inaccuracy of this explanation. More striking, however, is a brilliant idea of Gertrude Moakley. The researcher believes that the name has nothing to do with the use of the cards, but only with what is shown: the set of trumps would represent a kind of triumphal procession. As documented by Burkhardt and Moakley, one of the favorite pastimes of the courts of the Italian Renaissance was just the preparation of these triumphal processions with floats decorated with figures derived from classical mythology or depicting abstractions such as Love, Death, and so on.: A metamorphosis of the triumph of a Roman emperor, general in an elegant allegorical entertainment. A common element of these Renaissance triumphs was the idea that is at the center of the poem I Trionfi [The Triumphs] of Petrarch, in which each abstraction personified a triumph, triumphing over the previous one; thus in the poem, love triumphs over gods and men, the chastity over love, death over chastity, fame over death, time over fame, and eternity over time. The hypothesis would be confirmed if it was possible to explain the subjects of the trumps of the tarot deck as part of a triumphal procession of this kind; but, despite the considerable efforts of Gertrude Moakley, supplemented later by those of Ronald Decker, such an explanation, though plausible in principle, is difficult to make convincing in detail. Nevertheless, in the absence of anything better, we can accept as probable, though not as absolutely certain, that it was this association of ideas inspiring the use of the word " triumph " for additional cards of the tarot deck.
The main focus in this thread, at least my part in it, has been on the last paragraph of this passage, on how there is no need to look for the visual representations of all the cards in parades or the cassoni that were on display in a particular kind of parade, that accompanying marriage ceremonies. We look to the titles of the poems themselves, illustrated less in relation to the imagery in the poem and more in relation to how these subjects were conventionally illustrated and thought of--including but not limited to parades--and also allowing that just 6 of the cards instead of 22 were influenced by Petrarch, even though these cards may also have influenced how the whole group of 22 was seen.

I want to focus now on the earlier part, the chronology. Notice especially that he has already discounted as fortuitous the 1442 information from Ferrara: the "accenno", reference. Other considerations come to the fore, chiefly Marziano. So what needs to be updated, in view of what is now known? I repeat the chronology under consideration:
1428: Tarot cards were invented in the court of the Visconti.
1430: the Este court in Ferrara knows the tarot.
1435: tarot spread to Bologna.
1440: card makers begin to produce decks of tarot cards at a good price, printed by woodblock.
1442 tarot spread from Bologna to Florence.
1444: The composition of the tarot deck becomes standardized everywhere.
Obviously we must replace "Ferrara" with "Florence", given the prior evidence in Florence and the re-attribution of many early cards to that city, the proliferation of skilled craftsmen there, and the documentation of much tarot production there later on. So we have:

1428: the tarot was invented in the court of the Visconti.
1430: Florence knows the tarot.
1435: tarot spread to Bologna.
1440: card makers begin to produce decks of tarot cards at a good price, printed by woodblock.
1442: tarot spread from Bologna to Ferrara.
1444: the composition of the tarot deck becomes standardized everywhere.

Franco's research shows that 1440 is too late for cheap decks. Perhaps 1435-1439 would be better. [Note added later: Phaeded rightly objects to these two sentences. Actually, we have no idea, except that "naibi a trionfi" seems not to be an unfamiliar or new expression in Giusti's diary.] Also, and this is may be an important point, 1430 seems too early for Florence, given their facility in the minor arts. We would expect evidence from there earlier than 1440. So 1430-1436, and maybe even until 1440, small production at most. There is also the question of how they would have got to Florence from Milan. Soldiers seems a good bet, but trade still existed, especially by means of parties not of either city. If tarot spreads to one city, why not others, in limited amounts? Finally, can we assume that Milan invented the game? Bologna is also a possibility.

Also, would the third city be Bologna or Ferrara, and when? On the one hand, Bologna's fortunes were rather tied up with Milan's, usually in opposition to each other, until the rule of Sante Bentivoglio, 1442, who came from Florence. That would suggest changing the 1442 entry, so that it reads ""tarot spread from Florence to Bologna". Also,1442 appears too late for Ferrara, because of the "14 figures" in 1440. We also have, it seems to me, a distinction between hand-painted vs. woodblock production, and expensive vs. cheap or at least cheaper, that needs to be carried through more systematically. It seems to me that if Milan was first, then hand-panted would also be first, and small production. I mean by my date-ranges not when the events indicated happened, over time, but a range of time that seems reasonable for the date when it first occurred.

1425-1428: Tarot cards were in the court of the Visconti, in a small way, perhaps from some other city, but changed to fit the Marziano structure, or perhaps invented there.
1430-1436: Spreads to other cities, including, most likely, Florence, in a small way.
1437-1439: Florentine card makers begin to produce decks at a good price, printed by woodblock, by 1440 resulting in a great increase in popularity of the game.
1430-1440: tarot spreads from Milan to Ferrara, in a small way (but not as likely as Florence, for which see below), or, by 1442, cheaper production, from Florence or Bologna.
1440-42: cheaper tarot spreads from Florence to Bologna and perhaps Ferrara, unless already in either place in a small way.
1440-1450. Cheaper tarot spreads from Florence to Milan.
1444-1460: The composition of the tarot deck becomes standardized everywhere, although survivals of earlier forms may continue as well for the next 50 years.

Well, I suppose that is not much of a hypothesis, given all the alternatives built into it. A more precise version would be something intermediate between the middle formulation than this last one. What I mainly want to emphasize is the distinction between large and small production as a complicating factor suggested by the evidence, still a factor to be reckoned with. And also that given Florentine record keeping, we would expect there to be records earlier than 1440 if cheap decks started there much before 1438. To that extent Ross's comments about the origin of tarot is right, and if much earlier, then the players of the game must have been very limited indeed, or else playing-card producers would have jumped on it. Perhaps around 1435 there were changes in the rules that made it more popular. That is another consideration worth emphasizing.

Re: Pratesi Oct. 2016: tarot origins

Mike -

"And also that given Florentine record keeping, we would expect there to be records earlier than 1440 if cheap decks started there much before 1438."

Exactly, and long a part of my argument.

"To that extent Ross's comments about the origin of tarot is right, and if much earlier, then the players of the game must have been very limited indeed, or else playing-card producers would have jumped on it."

You seem to be coming around to my stand, so maybe we are almost on the same page.

I am not sure how to interpret your "much earlier" in this context. I hold that it cannot be much earlier than 1440, given the absence of evidence where we could reasonably expect some.

I don't know that it is necessary that the game were very limited; two or three years without reference to the game, even if played by several hundred people, seems not implausible. There are many much longer gaps in the Ferrarese evidence (the second most abundant documentary source after Florence) during times that we know with certainty that the game was being played. The same in other places.

I do indeed think it more likely that the game of Triumphs was created by and for the "popular" market, by which I mean the artisan and merchant class, than by and for the princely class.

This is not to ignore Marziano's creation for Visconti. I take that to be an independent invention of the idea of triumphs. And, given that Fernando de la Torre studied at least two years in Florence (1432-1434) and later went on to create a special pack with one Emperor card, it could well be that the idea of a "power card" or cards was already being done in Florence by the early 1430s. But I think this is not the same as our game of Triumphs, and that there is no necessary organic or genetic relationship between packs with a card or cards with special powers and the Trionfi trump sequence we know. That is, I don't think it is necessary to posit a steady evolution from primitive to final forms of this idea. The author of the Trionfi card game probably knew of such games, if they existed, but his idea does not need to have whole chunks of the sequence present in other, earlier games, that he molded into a bigger sequence. His sequence of trumps is coherent and understandable as it is.

I take that sequence to be the A sequence, of course, specifically that version of it preserved in Bologna (the only difference would seem to be the placement of the Chariot).

"Perhaps around 1435 there were changes in the rules that made it more popular. That is another consideration worth emphasizing."

There seems to be little basis for conjecture on this consideration. There could have been games with wild cards with images of Fools and Performers (Bagatella, etc.), a card like an Emperor that trumped all others, or several Emperors (Imperatori?) and Popes (perhaps the "equal-papi" rule is a survival of such an independent group), or maybe Karnöffel=Imperatori and somebody made a Devil, Pope, Emperor, and Karnöffel cards for real instead of as merely colorful names for the special cards of the chosen suit. That's about it for my speculation.

I don't think the game of Triumphs necessarily introduced the "excuse" role for the Fool, nor the idea of the "contatore" or partial wild cards known in Bolognese Tarocchino.Especially not if packs with such cards existed. A special card has to have a role to play. Nor, perhaps, what became the "equal papi" rule, as well as the rules about special bonuses for sequences of cards. Any of these most likely existed in other, earlier games than the game of Trionfi (there are others that I've thought of that I can't remember off-hand).

I think that the Trionfi trump sequence of 21 ranked cards and an unranked Fool was invented all at once, along with the name itself for the game. The main innovation with all those trumps would have been that at least 18 of them were "empty" - they counted for no points in themselves. Their main use is to capture the court cards, which count. An equally important use is making sequences, the longer the better. But now I am talking about a specific tradition, the Bolognese, and here I talk to myself.

Re: Pratesi Oct. 2016: tarot origins


Hi Ross

I heard you talking to yourself ... smile

You wrote :

I think that the Trionfi trump sequence of 21 ranked cards and an unranked Fool was invented all at once, along with the name itself for the game.

Well, from another point of view, the hypothetical atirhmological structure that sequences the Triomphes in 1+4+7+10 =22, it's an hypothesis much more coherent than a progressive one - semantic coherence and mathematical coherence.
Yet I have no evidence...
Have you? ... Biographie

Re: Pratesi Oct. 2016: tarot origins

On the transmission Florence to Milan question, I think the game went from Florence through Bologna to Milan. A good time to look for it would be during Visconti's administration of Bologna 1438-1441. Plenty of all Milanese classes would have encountered the game during that time.

I would imagine that Filippo Maria Visconti himself, who we know liked card games, and co-invented one, saw one of the luxury Florentine productions, like the one commissioned by Giusto Giusi for Sigismondo Malatesta, and decided to have one made for himself, and he tried to go one better with the Cary Yale.

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