If necessary there can be a thread on that topic, Milan-"Marseille" cards as hieroglyphs. I don't have such thoughts about cards elsewhere (or the CY), one way or the other. I think there is a thread on something like that topic, although not limited to Milanese-French, on Aeclectic, started by Ross; I haven't contributed. I will look at it and see if there is anything I can add.
Well, I did read the thread on Aeclectic about tarot as hieroglyphs, and yes, I had things to add. Ross's initial 2008 post, http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... ostcount=1, is quite interesting, about the use of the word "hieroglyph" as a descriptor in tarot literature before de Mellet, in the "Anonymous Discourse" and elsewhere. Then there is Kwaw's (SteveM's) post two after that, about the use of the word to describe other games and also emblems. After that, the thread is uneven in interest, regards the main topic. After debating with myself on whether to post a reply on a new thread here or on that Aeclectic thread, I decided that Okham's Razor dictated that I not create new threads unnecessarily. After Ross's and Kwaw's initial posts, I don't think it is required to read the rest: I quoted what is most relevant in my first post (link below). It took two postings on Aeclectic (in about 4500 words) to say what I needed to say.
http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... stcount=43, and the one immediately after,
http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... stcount=44.
Here I think I can manage to state the essence of what I was trying to say there. For a more thorough treatment, go to these posts on Aeclectic.
The key quote for the 15th century understanding of hieroglyphs is in Albert's De Re Aedicifatario. He says:
The Egyptians employed the following sign language: a god was represented by an eye, nature by a vulture, a king by a bee, time by a circle, peace by an ox, and so on. They maintained that each nation knew only its own alphabet, and that eventually all knowledge of it would be lost—as has happened with our own Etruscan: we have sepulchers uncovered in city ruins and cemeteries throughout Etruria inscribed with an alphabet universally acknowledged to be Etruscan, their letters look not unlike Greek, or even Latin, yet no one understands what they mean. The same, the Egyptians claimed, should happen to all other alphabets, whereas the method of writing they used could be understood easily by expert men all over the world, to whom alone noble matters should be communicated...(On the art of building in ten books, trans. Rykwert, Leach, and Tavernor, p. 256.)
This book was not published until 1486, but manuscript copies, which may or may not have included this passage, had circulated since 1452. The basic idea is already in his 1430s essays "Veiled Sayings" and "Rings," and also in his device of the "winged eye," which appears in documents by 1438. In Ferrara, this style affects medallion reverses, especially a series done by Pisanello in 1443 ; Alberti, in Florence until 1437, spent that year in Bologna, and in 1438 went to Ferrara (both places for the Papal Council). He remained in Ferrara during most of the 1440s, with Leonello his chief patron. Grafton (Leon Battista Alberti) details hiseffect there (Chapter VI, "The Artist at Court").
In Milan, one of Alberti's early colleagues, Filelfo, had moved there in 1440 and stayed until 1474. In addition, Alberti had a devoted follower there in Felarate, Francesco Sforza's architect (on loan from Cosimo). Filarere wrote his own treatise on architecture, in the footsteps of Alberti's, finished by 1462. Besides praising Alberti (on p. 152 of Skelton's translation), Skelton documents at least 40 uncited references to the earlier work and many to other of Alberti's works. Filarete also designed his own version of Alberti's "winged eye" device, a drawing that included a swarm of winged eyes and ears. He quotes Diodorus often (a major ancient source on hieroglyphics), probably in Pogio's translation, and credits Filelfo in a reference that most scholars (Giehlow, Dempsey, Curran) have thought shows that Filelfo had a copy of Horapollo's [i]Hieroglyphica[i].
Thus the idea expressed in the above quote--of pictures whose most important meanings could be discerned by the few no matter where, but not understood by the many anywhere--reached all the major cities of the tarot, and most especially Milan, where its effect on the PMB is evident compared to the CY, where the Cary Sheet is downright Egyptianate (see my posts on the "Cary Sheet" thread here), and from where the same understanding spread to France.