Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:I agree Robert. I think it would be worthwhile for someone who has all these details about the various extra-Italian (Tarot de Marseille-like) decks to put them on a chronological/geographical chart, and with the telling details mapped with arrows - perhaps something might be found. I think you could do it - it might take a whole wall in your study, however.
Thanks for the vote of confidence Ross.
I'll put my cards on the table. I never paid much attention to the Tarot de Marseille until I started hearing many others discussing the Tarot de Marseille as "THE
Tarot", as if it was the original
tarot, and the one that defined all other tarots. The general idea was that the Visconti tarot decks were an anomaly - luxury items created for the wealthy, based on the Tarot de Marseille, but lacking the inherent truth and vitality that allowed the Tarot de Marseille to stand out as unique among its peers.
So I started looking at the Tarot de Marseille as if it were the "Ur" tarot and would reveal the "true" origins of the tarot.
Instead, the more I studied the Tarot de Marseille versions, and other similar decks, the more I came to believe that the Tarot de Marseille was just another version of many versions of a developing and changing Tarot; and that even within the group, several different "families" could be identified. The "Compare and Contrast"
threads at AT were started by Jean-Michel and myself to take a look at the differences between the Tarot de Marseille styles and see what we as a group could determine. The studies were never completed, but I did walk away with a strong sense that the Tarot de Marseille I was most likely the oldest version, and that it had spread into various regions. I also was aware that it was very difficult to exclude the Tarot de Marseille II from the discussion as it seemed to ALSO reflect some earlier traditions, perhaps just as old as those in the Tarot de Marseille I.
So I sat, with about 20 different versions of the early decks in front of me and tried to make some sense of it. I think the only way to get a broad understanding of the different types of decks is to ground yourself in what differentiates the Tarot de Marseille I and the Tarot de Marseille II, and then when you see those attributes in other decks you can sort of place them in context. Perhaps the best way to go about this is to start a new thread comparing the Tarot de Marseille I and Tarot de Marseille II, and explore it together as a group, so that we have a ground to build upon, and then
consider the Belgian, Besançon, and Italian versions? I'll be happy to set up an area just for this purpose, as, it is my favourite aspect of exploring these early decks and, I think, can lead to a greater understanding of the designs of individual cards in later versions. Of course, to discuss these differences, several early decks, especially the Vieville, Noblet, Dodal, and Chosson/Conver need to be taken into consideration, as well as the early sheets, as a means of trying to trace some sort of ancestry.