The Devil runs for office

This is another in the Tarocchi Goes West series on individual trumps.

This post is not about Sun, Moon, and Star, but I have been collecting images of the Cancer Zodiac sign from Books of Hours, and I concede now that the crustacean on the Cary card (and Noblet's card) looks very much like the Cancer Zodiac sign in Books of Hours. The earliest Cancer signs from before 1300 are often fat like a crab, but later they look more and more like lobsters. The latest dates of the Books of Hours come close to Noblet's date of 1659. So I am a convert to the Zodiac theory that the Cary sheet artist, and/or Noblet, put Zodiac images on all three cards: Aquarius for Star, Cancer for Moon, and Gemini for Sun.
BnF MS Latin 1175 Can RL.jpg
BnF MS Latin 1175 Can RL.jpg (172.85 KiB) Viewed 384 times
Rotated 90° ... s/f19.item

Cary sheet tarot; Moon Clip RH.jpg
Cary sheet tarot; Moon Clip RH.jpg (228.3 KiB) Viewed 384 times ... c1500..jpg

However, this is not my posting about Sun, Moon, and Star. I do want to talk a little about the Cary sheet compared with Noblet, and about which source was first. The Cary SUN, in the very plausible reconstruction due to Andy Pollett, shows a walking naked boy holding a banner; it is not at all like a Gemini. So if Cary sheet was first, Noblet copied the Star and Moon cards, but he must have independently decided to have Gemini for Sun. He might have done so, if he recognized the Cary Star and Moon cards as Zodiac signs. But if he had recognized them as such, he would not have made his Aquarius female. He added dogs to his Moon card, which makes sense if he saw the card as a beach scene under a full moon (dogs howl at the moon), but if he saw the card as indicating the meaning "The Zodiac sign of Cancer," then putting in dogs just gets in the way. Even less does it make sense that Cary copied Noblet.
Andy Pollett SUN reconstruction :

But this post is about the Devil. Here is the Devil card of the Cary sheet,
Cary sheet tarot; Devil RS595.jpg
Cary sheet tarot; Devil RS595.jpg (294.94 KiB) Viewed 384 times
Cary sheet : ... c1500..jpg

And here are the Devils of Viéville, and Noblet. Certainly for the Devil card, neither of the Paris twins copies from Cary.
VievNob.png (707.33 KiB) Viewed 384 times
Jacques Viéville :
Jean Noblet :

Not one of the fine handmade XVth century decks preserves a Devil card; perhaps it was unlucky. We can try to guess at an early Devil by looking at those we do have:
RosBudOrf RW597.png
RosBudOrf RW597.png (417.22 KiB) Viewed 384 times
Rosenwald : ... 41321.html
Budapest :
Orfeo minchiate :

Here are some non-Tarot Devil images of the time, or earlier.
nonTarotDs RW597.png
nonTarotDs RW597.png (422.33 KiB) Viewed 381 times
Boy peeing :
tail grab :
Memling : ... vation.jpg

Devils have typically: lizard feet, wings, a face in their crotch, and horns. They carry either a trident or a rake. They are engaged in tossing sinners into the gaping open mouth of Hell. The Geofroy Devil is lost, but here is the Anonymous Parisian's: Devil, and I have also included a tarocchino Devil.
AP alla torre.PNG
AP alla torre.PNG (610.86 KiB) Viewed 381 times
Anonymous Parisien :
Alla Torre :

In the above two cards, one shows the curved-tine rake with crossbar, and the other has a trident; all devils with a weapon carry either the one, or the other.

AP's Devil is typical; typical of tarot Devils and typical of the Devil images of its time. The rake has a crossbar and three curved teeth. The chains are unique among tarot cards, but the image above of the naughty boy standing on a book and peeing on the table, shows how chains are used to bind sinners. The Orfeo minchiate's Devil has a feature unique to minchiate (and found in all minchiate), four or five snake tails. What are the features of the ur-tarot devil? By the ur-tarot Devil, I mean, possibly, the Devil of the very first tarot, but in any case an image from which all later cards could plausibly have come; a card with the common factors of the known cards.

I think the ur-tarot Devil has these properties:
  • 1) lizard feet (never hoofs, cloven or otherwise; occasionally lion-like paws),
  • 2) bat wings,
  • 3) a face in his crotch (Satan has three faces in Dante, but all on his head),
  • 4) horns, curved but not branching, thin but sturdy
  • 5) a trident or a rake,
  • 6) no attendants.
  • Also perhaps 7) a protruding tongue,
  • and 8) a striding profile posture; both of these are common, but not universal.
  • The ur-Devil likely had: 9) a tail; in those cases where no tail is visible, it might just be behind his body.
  • Also likely: 10) pointy ears.
  • It may be just coincidence, but they all share this feature: 11) that while mostly naked, they do not show an exposed penis.
I do not include the multiple snake tails in the ur-tarot Devil, because only the minchiate has them. Many of the features which are common to Devil cards in tarot, are features common to most devil images of the time.

Neither Dante's Lucifer, nor the Devils I've found in images before 1650, looks like a reigning royal king. I expect I have still to find such images, or descriptions in literature, but I haven't yet. The Devils on tarot cards do not look like or behave like kings.

The AP's Devil could have been derived from some NW Italian card that derived from the ur-Tarot, or the AP could also have drawn it simply from the idea of what a devil was, current in Paris at the time. Then Viéville's Devil is quite like the AP's, except that Viéville's devil does not carry anything.

Besides AP's Devil card (Geofroy's is lost), there are devils to consider on the Tower cards. We have a Tower card for both Geofroy and the AP, and both have at least one devil. Geofroy's devil is a standard devil, but the devil on AP's Tower card has a more human body than most. The AP can make a standard devil when he wants to: the devil on his Devil card is entirely a standard devil.

Compared to this consensus, the Noblet Devil is quite different.
Devil RH597.jpg
Devil RH597.jpg (197.61 KiB) Viewed 381 times
Jean Noblet :

He seems to be standing on some sort of pedestal, which is itself on some sort of platform. At the front and center of this platform is some sort of boss, from which come two ropes going to the necks of the two imps. All three figures are full face, and all have starkly exposed sex organs. I don't understand what that is on top of the devil's head. Is that some sort of hat? Are those feather-like things on all three heads, horns? They don't look very threatening.

This devil looks like he is looking right at you, and one hand is raised. Is he waving? If not, what is he doing? His weapon is held upright like a scepter. It is neither a rake, which has tines that curve back toward the handle for raking in sinners, nor is it a trident for jabbing them. The attendants are not human sinners, since they have pointy ears and tails; so are they imps? Imps don't ordinarily require to be tied up.

This devil is standing on a pedestal, on a platform, with one hand raised, as if waving. What is he doing? You stand on a platform to address a crowd; and you wave to acknowledge their cheers. The devil, who is the lord of Hell, looks like he's accepting the cheers of the populace.

Where have we seen something like this before? Well, here's a place:
Chariot.jpg (58.66 KiB) Viewed 381 times ... 4f/f1.item

Here is someone standing on a pedestal, on a platform, accepting the cheers of the crowd. Two figures are tied to the front of that platform. The composition is full face. Noblet might have seen the above card (it is from "dit de Charles VI" deck, and is now in Paris, but I don't know if that deck was known in 1659). Here are two chariots which Noblet almost certainly saw.
grab.PNG (294.45 KiB) Viewed 381 times
Cary sheet : ... c1500..jpg
Viéville :

Both have the boss, front and center of the platform. Note the similarity of the front legs: in both cases, the center two legs are straight, the outer two legs are bent. In both cases the bodies are mirror images, but all four faces look to the viewer's right. The tops of the sphinxes' heads, mirror the tops of the horses' heads. The sphinxes' collar things with the red borders, mirror the chest straps on the horses.

Here by the way is a sphinx from a manuscript of the late 13th century, this one is being killed by Oedipus, naturally:
Add MS 15268 sphinx Clip.png
Add MS 15268 sphinx Clip.png (253.48 KiB) Viewed 381 times ... 5268_f077v

While I don't think that card makers were scholars, I am seeing similarities between manuscript illuminations, and cards, so I can well believe that Viéville (or the artists he employed) knew what a sphinx looked like.

The Cary sheet chariot recalls closely the Cary-Yale chariot
Chariot middle.jpg
Chariot middle.jpg (183.39 KiB) Viewed 381 times
(middle only)

The base of the pillars, the fact that the rider is standing on the platform, and the locations of the horses' straps are all similar in this card and the Cary card. (the Visconti horses are pulling using a chariot pole between them; you can just see the tip. The Cary horses have the straps the same, but no pole, an arrangement I don't think will work. The dit de Charles VI chariot also lacks a pole.). ... t&tbm=isch

So a derivation of the Cary sheet chariot from a plausible ur-tarot chariot, (which would be the Cary-Yale chariot, pretty much), makes sense. It is plausible also, that the chariot card from the printer of the Cary sheet, was seen and copied by Viéville. The Geofroy chariot and the AP's chariot are quite different and seem not to have influenced Viéville – but this post is not about chariots, so I won't show them.

Noblet made many choices which indicate he saw the Devil as a prince of Hell, rather than one of the working imps who labored to rake in souls. Princes were quite often seen by cheering crowds while in a procession rather than stationary, and it is possible that Noblet intends his two imps, tied to the platform by their necks, as pulling the Devil's platform. There are no visible wheels on Noblet's platform, but there are none (or hardly any) on Viéville's chariot either. The ropes from the platform's central boss to the imps' necks, would then be for pulling the platform, rather than to keep them from running away.

These points connect Noblet's Devil with a prince waving to a crowd, or with the Cary sheet chariot card, or with other chariot cards:
  • 1) Standing on a pedestal, which is on a platform,
    2) Waving. Standing straight and tall in the posture of a prince. (See how the other Devils stand).
    3) Holding his stick as you would a scepter, rather than jabbing someone with it.
    4) The stick does not look like a rake, and not like a trident either.
    5) The two imps mirror the two horses.
    6) The main character is full face, looking straight at the viewer.
    7) The imps are tied to the platform, mirroring the horses with ropes going from the wheeled platform to their necks.
    8) The imps may be pulling the platform.
So that is my theory of how Noblet derived his image for his Devil card, one of the five trumps for which Noblet looks nothing like Viéville. Wherever Noblet got this image for the Devil, he produced something unlike any tarot Devil card before, and unlike the Devil images in illuminated manuscripts, and unlike the Devils in the cheap woodblock religious sheets that peddlers sold in the markets. This new Devil was an image fitted to its time. Satan harangues a crowd of fallen angels in Milton's Paradise Lost, published in 1667. Noblet's date in the BnF is 1659.

Re: The Devil runs for office

sandyh wrote:
30 Nov 2018, 00:41

The chains are unique among tarot cards, but the image above of the naughty boy standing on a book and peeing on the table, shows how chains are used to bind sinners.

See here for another example of a man with chain linked to a collar, being taken to hell's mouth by a demon:

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, from the Gospel of Luke: ... tory-ready

By the Maître des heures de Pontbriand, 1490-1500, N.France. From the Book of hours of the Pontbriand family.

Here is another with the collared and chained rich man on his way to hell:

The posture/attitude of the Vieville is somewhat like that of the Devil arguing with God (re: The Book of Job) here: ... llID=10973

Here are some images of hellmouth as entrance to a fiery tower (a connection between both the Hellmouth and fiery Tower images of Tarot?), pertinent to remember perhaps that an alternative name for this Trump was The House of the Devil :

Most images of the Devil with a Basket of Souls on his back I have seen (which aren't that many, about 6 or 7) are also connected with the taking of sinners to Hellmouth, as here for example: ... ques_6.JPG

This one is part of a procession of demons on their way to hellmouth with their collection of souls, included among the procession are also demons playing musical instruments (pipes and drums), though they are not shown on this page: ... rrows.html

The Devil standing on an anvil is connected somehow perhaps to him being the forger of chains ?

Not the Devil, but a forger standing by an anvil and pulling a man by chains from an alchemical text: ... 3&partId=1
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: The Devil runs for office

SteveM wrote:
02 Dec 2018, 12:37
The Devil standing on an anvil is connected somehow perhaps to him being the forger of chains ?

Not the Devil, but a forger standing by an anvil and pulling a man by chains from an alchemical text: ... 3&partId=1
In His Moralia On Job, St Gregory wrote:

Mor. 34.6.11 (2: 1741). Rightly therefore was this Leviathan compared to an anvil, because we are built up by his attacks, but he himself is always struck, and is never changed into a useful vessel. We abandon him to eternal beating, and we, having been beaten by the heavenly hand of the Artist in his temptation, through him turn into as it were shaped vessels. For on him we are beaten, but it is in order that we might come into the use of the heavenly house. *

Recte ergo Leuiathan iste incudi comparatus est, quia nos illo persequente componimur, ipse autem et semper percutitur, et in uas utile numquam mutatur. Aetemae illum percussioni relinquimus; et nos superni artificis manu in eius temptatione percussi, per illum quasi uascula formata transimus. In ipso enim tundimur, sed ut ad usumdomus supernae ueniamus.

Translated by Charlotte Emily Kingston in her Phd thesis:

The Devil in the Writings and Thought of Pope Gregory the Great (590-604), University of York, 2011
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: The Devil runs for office

thanks for all these wonderful images, and most particularly, for the one from the museum in Rennes, which was not on my list of museums with worthwhile online manuscript collections, but will be. In Livre d'heures de Jean de Montauban (I think) I found a last Judgment where Christ is standing on a globe, only my second,
Britany Christ.jpg
Britany Christ.jpg (166.58 KiB) Viewed 345 times
Here's another few from this rich trove:
Britany Circimcision panel.jpg
Britany Circimcision panel.jpg (98.84 KiB) Viewed 345 times

Britany Hellmouth.jpg
Britany Hellmouth.jpg (232.02 KiB) Viewed 345 times
I like this one because of the rakes used by the devils to catch the fleeing sinner at the bottom

Brittany Devil RH595.jpg
Brittany Devil RH595.jpg (277.31 KiB) Viewed 345 times
I like the Devil's shawl.
It is called -- "After being expelled from the earthly paradise, Adam and Eve do penance in the Tigris."
Not sure what is a penance about it. Maybe they didn't like baths.

Sorry no references but the index stopped working. Maybe I broke it.

Re: The Devil runs for office

With regards to the anvil, I don't think it is an anvil, at least not in Noblet. But it is not an objection to the idea that it is an anvil, that it is not the modern familiar anvil shape. In looking for Hellmouths, I've seen a few of the tortures inside them, and one is being laid on an anvil and hammered. Except for having a flat top, the anvils of Hell come in any shape.

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