Re: Torah and Talmud imagery in the Tarot de Marseilles

#12
Well I am learning more and more that when it comes to Tarot history I know very little.

Two messages I would like the Tarot history community to know:

1) In the Tarot de Marseilles, especially the Noblet, it is possible to glean a tremendous amount of Talmudic imagery, that, to me, is far beyond mere coincidence.

2) In the 1500s Ferrara was the European center of Jewish literary and printing activism against the Inquisition and the church's continual efforts to ban and destroy the Talmud.

How to fit the pieces together beyond that .... ?

Re: Torah and Talmud imagery in the Tarot de Marseilles

#13
Fascinating website - thank you! A question though, and one which I've tried to answer by searching google, but with no definite results.

Why Daniel and not Samson for the Strength card? It seems that Samson was a mythological figure and (as far as I can
tell ) not exactly regarded as an ideal role model in the Talmud, but he did 'rend' the lion in Judges 14:5 - the text of which was presumably based on the older texts and stories.
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Torah and Talmud imagery in the Tarot de Marseilles

#14
Interesting question regarding the lion in Daniel's Den versus Sampson.

Three possible reasons:

1) Sampson is remembered as a great hero, but he's far from a paragon of virtue. While he kills a lot of Philistines, he also gets into trouble due to his habit of visiting prostitutes. (judges 16)

2) The story of Daniel is especially relevant to the Jews of the 1500s experiencing the inquisition. Daniel lived in Babylon as a religious minority and he was attacked by his rivals because of his religious faith. (Just like the story of Esther and Mordechai which also figures prominently in the Tarot de Marseille.) Sampson on the other hand was a fighting hero in the proper Land of Israel in a much earlier time. His story is far less relevant to the Marrano Jewish experience.

3) And a third reason which is highly speculative but will resonate with students of Jewish history: Dona Garcia Nasi who is remembered as the hero of Marrano Jews in the 1500s. She was a crypto Jew from Portugal who inherited a trade and banking firm that made her one of the wealthiest people in Europe in the 1500s. She gave gifts and substantial loans to the Duke of Ferrara and many other heads of state and monarchs in Europe. And she also spent her fortune on projects to support Jewish refugees, Marrano Jewish education and Sephardic Jewish literature. For a while she lived in Ferrara but she eventually moved to Constantinople where she could live openly Jewish. (She had to keep a Christian persona in order to maintain her trade network in Europe.) All of the Jewish literature published in Ferrara contain prefaces of thanks to Dona Gracia. Example Samuel Usque writing about Dona Garcia Nasi from Ferrara in 1550: "Has anyone ever seen a woman risk her life to save her brethren, as if she inherited Miriam's innate compassion, or govern her people with Deborah's remarkable prudence or aid the persecuted with Esther's boundless virtue? ... "

Of course there is still an unexplained hop skip and jump from Ferrara to the Tarot Tarot de Marseille - but it is interesting to see the the artists of the Tarot de Marseille pushing for the inclusion of a feminine presence at the precise time when the leader of the Marranos Jews was a very strong woman.

Re: Torah and Talmud imagery in the Tarot de Marseilles

#15
Of course there is still an unexplained hop skip and jump from Ferrara to the Tarot Tarot de Marseille - but it is interesting to see the the artists of the Tarot de Marseille pushing for the inclusion of a feminine presence at the precise time when the leader of the Marranos Jews was a very strong woman.
An interesting reason, StavAppel, but I can't help questioning the assumed agenda of the artists in your last paragraph. I've always thought that the most logical explanation for the fact that the Tarot de Marseille Strength/Force card depicts a woman is that earlier images of Samson on tarot cards were mistaken for a woman due to depictions of a pre-Deliah, long-haired Samson in early illuminations.

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/fovchik/sam ... n/?lp=true
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Torah and Talmud imagery in the Tarot de Marseilles

#17
The tarot has the magical potential to be all things to all people - well, not quite, but that's one of the things that keeps the fascination alive.
Your explanations for the oddities of the Noblet Bateleur and Hermit seem an extraordinary coincidence and otherwise almost inexplicable (although I'm pretty sure some here have their own theories).
He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy...

Re: Torah and Talmud imagery in the Tarot de Marseilles

#18
Thanks for your clarification. What you say is not impossible, at least as far as modifications in the tarot to accommodate the . ideas of "secret Jews." Also, it strikes me that "secret Jews", practicing both Judaism and Catholicism, would be acutely aware of hidden affinities, or imagined affinities, between the two, for example regarding the Trinity. Which of course brings us to the Kabbalah, which some Christians, i.e. Pico, saw as formulating Christian ideas in Jewish terms, or else getting to an understanding that transcended both. In that way the "secret Jews" would not be betraying their religion in adopting the practices and language of Catholicism. Some converts to Christianity who translated Hebrew Kabbalah into Latin might be in that category, such as Paolo Ricci and Flavius Mithridites. I can see certain Christians and Jews collaborating, just as Pico and Yohanan Alemanno collaborated for a short time, without thereby giving up their own religion (on this see the thread on "Jewish-Christian interactions" here). And the tarot could then be for the use of both Christians and Jews who knew the references. My own speculations on this point are at http://latinsefiroth.blogspot.com/.

Besides Ferrara, another important place for Jews was Padua, which at the beginning of the 15th century had opened its doors to Jewish medical students. This would have attracted Jewish rabbis, butchers, etc., to serve such students. Padua is of course quite close to Ferrara, and even closer to Venice.

The period between 1500 and Noblet is rather sparse for preserved cards, but there are a few. Mostly they build on a style that developed in Florence, seen in the "Rosenwald Sheet", the "Rothschild Sheet", and "Musee des Beaux Arts," plus what can be inferred from later decks of minchiate (an expanded tarot originally from Florence with 40 triumphs plus the Fool) and tarocchini (a Bolognese varient that omits some of the number cards). All these, however, are rather different from the type of deck you call the "deck from Ferrara."

For that "Ferrarese" type, plus a type more directly connected to the Noblet called the "Cary Sheet", c. 1500, you should look at the chapter in Kaplan's Encyclopedia of Tarot, vol. 2, Chapter XIV, on "fifteenth to seventeenth century tarot cards". These are mostly on sheets that never were cut up into cards but used instead as filler in book binding.

After those, for antecedents to Noblet, you have to go to other French decks. The Catelin Geoffroy, 1557 Lyon (see http://cards.old.no/1557-geofroy/) for the Hanged Man actually has what appears to be a Jew, at least according to some, hung upside down but with both feet tied to the rope. It strikes me that it could also be Jesus, whom the Talmud (Book of Sanhedrin) says was "hung from a pole", or some other heretic from Judaism. There is also, on the same website, the "Anonymous" tarot of Paris, which looks to some as though it were influenced by Ferrara, before tarot ceased being played there, in the late 15th century when the Papacy took Ferrara over. And finally there is the "Vieville" tarot, which has more affinity with the Cary Sheet than the Noblet. And after the Noblet the tarots of Dodal and Payen have more affinities with the Noblet than what came later.

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