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~~ Gallery 5 ~~
The Tarot and other Early Cards
· page II ·

REGIONAL TAROTS - 1
Bologna  ·  Sicily

part 2
Milan
Piedmont
part 3
Switzerland
France
part 4
Belgium

part 5
Germany & Austria
Hungary
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GALLERY INDEX










other pages

page I
classic
tarots
page III
trump card
arrangements
page IV
modern &
non-standard
page V
theMulûk
wa-Nuwwâb
page VI
the Visconti
Tarots
page VII
the tarots
of Ferrara
page VIII
the tarot
of Marseille
page IX
the Tarot
de Paris
page X
Viéville's
Tarot
page XI
the
Minchiate
page XII
Mitelli's
Tarocchino
page XIII
Mantegna's
Tarot
page XIV
the
Hofjagdspiel
page XV
the
Hofämsterspiel
page XVI
the deck by
Jost Amman
page XVII
the Italy 2
Moorish deck



I thank Maurizio Barilli for his valuable contribution to the notes about Bologna's tarot




THE BIRTH OF REGIONAL TAROTS

The very first tarot decks were painted or engraved by artists, and only the élite who could afford such luxury crafts played card games. When a new pack was produced, the subjects were likely borrowed from works such as paintings, illuminated books, cards, etc., which the author knew for having seen them locally or in other princely courts previously visited.
This is how different decks became graphically related to geographic regions or cities; the further was the distance between two areas, the greater might have been the differences between the playing cards locally manufactured. Furthermore, not only the graphic style varied, but also the rank or value of the trumps, thus their ordering, was subject to certain changes.

Tarot historian Michael Dummett has suggested that three main patterns should be considered as archetypes of the many varieties known, labelling them A, B and C. Another tarot expert and collector, Tom Tadfor Little, renamed the three groups according to the geographic areas where they developed:
  • The one from Milan's Visconti court (western pattern), gave origin to the French and Swiss tarots, and is probably the most well known; this group matches Dummett's type C.

  • The one from Ferrara's Este court (eastern pattern), did not go much further than Venice; this goup matches Dummett's type B.

  • The one born in Bologna, southern pattern, the most "popular" of the three, not being specifically related with any noble court, reached Florence (where it probably inspired the Minchiate) and later Sicily; this group matches Dummett's type A.

geographic relations between the regional patterns
Woodblock printing and stencil colouring techniques helped to keep the cost of tarot decks affordable: this enabled the game to spread across Europe in less than one century, not only in noble courts but also among the common people.
In several countries the tarot's illustrations underwent further changes, according to factors such as popular taste and local tradition. More consistent changes took place in tarots whose suits turned to the French standard (Diamonds, Spades, etc.), although this did not happen until the 19th century: the trumps, yet maintaining their numbering from 1 to 21, lost their traditional subjects, replaced by genre scenes.


ITALY


TAROCCO BOLOGNESE      all the cards shown are by Dal Negro (Italy)
the Fool and the Trivial Performer
The Tarocco Bolognese, from the city of Bologna, has 62 cards. It is called Tarocchino ("small tarot") as the Milanese pattern discussed in part 2, not for its dimensions, despite the slim size, but for the fewer number of cards.
Each suit has an ace, values from 6 to 10, and the four usual courts.
The rank and subjects of the 22 trumps are slightly different from those of the tarot of Marseille (see page III for the comparative table). Bologna's tarot also rejected the use of having the names of the subjects spelled on the relevant trump.

Instead, western numerals appeared in some of the cards, probably around the late 18th century, whereas in the Lombard pattern the trumps had long since been numbered with roman numerals.
The choice of using only numbers from 5 (Love) to 16 (the Star) is explained by the particular structure of the set of trumps in game played with this deck, by which only some of the subjects are "counted".
Furthermore, the apparent discrepancy in giving no.5 to Love, despite this is the sixth card, is also explained by the same hierarchic scheme in the Tarocchino game: the card usually considered the first trump, the Trivial Performer, in play groups with other subjects at the bottom of the series (see table below).
Fortitude and the Devil
Due to this shift, though, the numerals featured on the trumps apparently indicate a lower rank than the one these subjects really have.

The 22 trumps of Bologna's tarot are traditionally referred to by the players with names in dialect.

CARD No.

ll
l
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16

ll
ll
ll
ll
ll
DIALECT NAMES

Béghet
Murett
l'Amàur
al Car
la Virtò
la Giustézzia
la Forza
la Furtòuna
al Rumetta
al Traditàur
la Mort
al Dièvel
la Tarr
el Strel
Lòuna
Sàul
Mand
Anzel
Mat
ACTUAL MEANING

the Trivial Performer
Small Moors
(4 cards) [1]
Love
the Chariot
Virtue [2]
Justice
Fortitude/Strength
Fortune
the Hermit [3]
the Traitor
Death
the Devil
the Tower [4]
the Star
Moon
Sun
World
Angel
Fool

EQUIVALENT IN MARSEILLE'S TAROT
(according to Bologna's ordering)
the Trivial Performer
the Popess - the Empress - the Emperor - the Pope
the Lovers
the Chariot
Temperance
Justice
Fortitude/Strength
the Wheel of Fortune
the Hermit
the Hanged Man
Death
the Devil
the Tower
the Stars
the Moon
the Sun
the World
Judgement
the Fool

  • l - these cards are known as i Cuntadur ("the Counters");
  • l - these ones are known as el Ràssi ("the Red Cards");
  • l - this series is known as i Taruc ("the Tarots");
  • l - this series is known as la Grànda ("the Great");
  • l - the four Moors keep their name;
  • 5 ~ 16 - the series of trumps with numerals is called Nòmer ed Scavàzz (more or less "Breakneck Numbers", since an incomplete series of these cards is referred to as scavezzo = "breakneck", or "topping"), but each of them is also individually referred to with the relevant number.

  • [1] - The earlier name of these subjects was "the Popes"
  • [2] - Subject also referred to as "Temperance"
  • [3] - The earlier name of this subject was "the Old Man"
  • [4] - The earlier name of this subject was "Lightning"

Instead the 40 suit cards are referred to as pali, a word that shares the same root of the Spanish word palos, i.e. "suits".

A distinctive feature of this pattern is the group of four male characters of equal rank, into which the classic trumps Popess, Empress, Emperor and Pope were turned in early times.
Initially known as the Popes, they were renamed the Moors (also referred to as the Moorish Kings, or Small Moors), following the ban issued in 1725 by pope Benedict XIII upon the use of "the Pope" and "the Angel" as names for playing card subjects; the latter, though, was never changed nor dropped.
the modern Moors (the central one is repeated)
and (far right) a Moor from a 1850 edition
In 18th and 19th century editions they were four different personages, very similar though not identical, whose faces were brown, in accordance with the subject, but in the following century one of them was duplicated (i.e. three different, one of which double), and the tanned face detail was discontinued.


the Hermit
Bologna's tarot still show traces of the early subjects in 15th century decks. Since during the Renaissance no princely court was found in this city, unlike in Milan and Ferrara, this pattern did not develop from early hand-painted luxury decks belonging to local lords, therefore no specific deck acted as an archtype, for instance as the Visconti cards did in Milan. But comparing the illustrations still found in the modern editions to the hand-painted tarots known, the ones made in Ferrara and its surroundings, geographically closer to Bologna than to Milan, reveal some striking analogies. For instance, the Hermit has no lantern, but still wears wings, a detail derived from the ancient name of this card, Time (in fact, an elderly winged character was originally featured). After this detail, the nickname for the Hermit is l'Anzlaz (more or less "the cheaper or lesser angel"), whereas Love is nicknamed l'Anzlen ("the little angel"), after the picture of Cupid.

Also Fortitude (previously shown) features a figure standing by a column, a way of depicting this subject never found in Lombardy, and rather typical of north-eastern Italian tarots.

The Traitor is typically reminiscent of the archaic set of trumps, although only the name changed, as also in this case the featured subject is the well-known personage hanging head down from a scaffold.
The sixteenth trump (yet marked "15"), the Tower, was originally labelled as Lightning; in Bologna's pattern the collapsing square building on fire is still very similar to the stout tower cracked by a thunderbolt, featured in the so-called tarot of Charles VI (late 15th century).

The most evident analogy is the series of three cosmological subjects, namely the Star, the Moon and the Sun, which feature illustrations similar to the ones found in some early tarots from Ferrara: the last two feature a pair of astronomers and a woman with a long spindle, respectively. These subjects are discussed more in depth in the gallery dedicated to the tarot of J.Viéville.

the Tower

Tarot of Charles VI: Lightning
The Star, instead, features three personages wearing clothes and headgear that suggest their belonging to a high status, such as that of dignitaries; this iconography might be consistent with the subject of the uncut Rothschild sheet, in the Louvre Museum (Paris), whose interpretation of the allegory is based on the biblical three Wise Men (the Magi), led to Bethlehem by a comet.
Tarocco Bolognese: the Star, the Moon, the Sun
Finally, the World developed from the early image of a globe floating in the heavens, guarded by an archangel. In Bologna the latter was turned into Mercury, with a winged hat, winged feet and a medical staff, but the illustration has undoubtly remained very similar to the early representation.

the World

Despite this, Bologna's tarot was one of the first patterns in which double-headed subjects were used, already in the 19th century.

A rather ornate and fancy edition of Bologna's tarot, drawn by Giovanni Maria Mitelli in the late 17th century, featured very particular innovations (see Mitelli's Tarocchino).


sample suit cards from the Tarocco Bolognese:
ace and king of Coins, 10 of Cups, ace of Swords and queen of Batons
Bologna's regional pattern, the 40-card deck named Primiera Bolognese, shares with the Tarocco Bolognese the same style; it has three of the tarot's court cards (no queen), but the set of pip cards runs from 1 (ace) to 7, while the tarot lacks all values from 2 to 5.



Further reference to Bologna's Tarocchino can be found in the following pages:
  • Maurizio Barilli's Il Tarocco bolognese (composition of the deck and rules for several games, in Italian)
  • Accademia del Tarocchino Bolognese (historical notes and information about the deck and the game)
  • John McLeod's Ottocento page (rules for this game, in English)


  • TAROCCO SICILIANO      all the cards shown are by Modiano (Italy)
    The Sicilian regional tarot is the least common of the three Italian ones still in production.
    Probably sprung from Bologna's pattern, the Tarocco Siciliano is made of 64 cards, but its size is very similar to those of regional decks, i.e. much smaller than any other tarot pack.
    The trumps are 22, as usual: the numbered ones run from 1 to 20, featuring western numerals, while two non-standard ones named Miseria ("misery") and Fuggitivo ("Fugitive") have no number and rank at the two ends of the set.
    The full list of subjects is as follows (the different positions in the tarot of Marseille are shown in square brackets):

    the Trivial Performer
    CARD No.


    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    10
    11
    12
    13
    14
    15
    16
    17
    18
    19
    20

    LOCAL NAMES

    Miseria
    il Bagatto
    l'Imperatrice
    l'Imperatore
    la Costanza
    la Temperanza
    la Forza
    la Giustizia
    l'Amore
    il Carro
    la Ruota della Fortuna
    l'Appeso
    l'Eremita
    la Morte
    la Nave
    la Torre
    la Stella
    la Luna
    il Sole
    Atlante
    Giove
    il Fuggitivo
    ACTUAL MEANING

    Misery
    the Trivial Performer
    the Empress
    the Emperor
    Constancy
    Temperance
    Fortitude
    Justice
    Love
    the Chariot
    the Wheel of Fortune
    the Hanged Man
    the Hermit
    Death
    the Ship
    the Tower
    the Star
    the Moon
    the Sun
    Atlas
    Jupiter
    the Fugitive

    EQUIVALENT IN MARSEILLE'S TAROT
    (according to the Sicilian ordering)
    · · ·
    the Trivial Performer
    the Empress [III]
    the Emperor [IV]
    · · ·
    Temperance [XIIII]
    Fortitude [XI]
    Justice [VIII]
    the Lovers [VI]
    the Chariot [VII]
    the Wheel of Fortune
    the Hanged Man [XII]
    the Hermit [IX]
    Death
    · · ·   
    (replacement for the Devil )
    the Tower [XVI]
    the Star [XVII]
    the Moon [XVIII]
    the Sun [XIX]
    the World [XXI]
    Judgement [XX]
    · · ·   
    (replacement for the Fool )

    Misery and the Fugitive
    Most of these subjects are in common with other tarots, particularly with Bologna's own, but in the Tarocco Siciliano two standard ones are missing (namely the Popess and the Pope), while two more were replaced (the Ship for the Devil, and the Fugitive for the Fool). Two further non-standard subjects, Misery and Constancy, were added, so that the number of trumps remained 22. Many ranks are changed, as well, although for some of them this is only the effect of a shifted position due to the presence of Misery at the beginning of the list.
    The names of the subjects are not stated, except for Miseria, in which the word appears on a ribbon suspended above an old beggar in rags, almost as a part of the illustration.

    Among the non-standard subjects is Constancy, whose attitude is similar to Philosophy in Mantegna's tarot. It does not belong to any other pattern, as it is not included among the Cardinal Virtues, nor among the Theological Virtues (both present in the Minchiate set); nevertheless, it was placed just before Temperance, Force and Justice, almost as a sort of "introductory virtue".
    Other non-standard trumps reveal a close connection with standard ones: Atlas, no.19, on his shoulders bears the world, a clear allusion to this traditional subject. Also Jupiter, sitting on his throne and ready to strike a thunderbolt, is the pagan interpretation of a divine judgement, which in other patterns is announced by an angel.

    Constancy
    the Hanged Man and the Ship
    The Ship that replaced the Devil was probably borrowed from the large set of trumps of the Minchiate; according to M.Dummett (Game of Tarot) this change took place due to the dislike by the sensitive Sicilian players for the original card, reputed an outrageous subject. Instead card no.11, the Hanged Man, apparently did not disturb the same players' feelings, despite it features a human figure suspended by the neck!

    the Tower

    Also the Tower somewhat differs from the traditional way of representing it: the building appears unbroken, in good shape, and no sign of thunder nor any other threat is seen; therefore the original meaning of this card, i.e. a warning or a punishment for man's pride, in the Sicilian tarot is completely lost.

    the Star, the Moon, the Sun
    The three cosmological subjects are completely different: the Star features a horseman pointing towards a large star inscribed in a circle, while the Moon shows a couple (a standing woman and a lying man) resting by a tree, and in the Sun we see two men fighting, one holding a stick, the other one already down. Their symbolic meaning, if any, is difficult to understand; the only relation with other patterns is the horseman, also present in the Minchiate's same subject, and not too far from the Sun's naked rider in both Viéville's Parisian tarot and van den Borre's Flemish tarot. The Minchiate also feature a seated couple in the countryside, but in the Sun (not in the Moon).

    The suit cards of the Tarocco Siciliano are different from the ones of the local 40-card deck (Siciliane, see the Italian gallery), although both patterns share the same Latin suit system, and have the identical ace of Coins.
    Each suit has values from 5 to 9, and four courts, but the Coins suit has two more cards: the aforesaid ace, and a 4. The former had to be added in order to place the tax stamp on it, when this duty was established in the 1800s, and therefore is not a card actually played with.

    8 of Cups and 7 of Coins


    (above) 8 of Batons, 10 of Swords;

    (below) knave of Cups, king of Swords


    The Sicilian tarot belongs to the southern Italian playing cards, but rather than Spanish-like (as the Siciliane), its suit system is related to the early Portoguese cards. The main elements that suggest a link with the old pattern used in Portugal, obsolete since the 19th century, are the shape of the pips of the long suits, whose Swords are straight and whose Batons have rounded ends, the way they are arranged, i.e. crossing each other diagonally several times, and in particular the presence of female knaves, a detail shared in Italy by only one other obsolete pattern: the Minchiate.

    Also the courts have a different shape and attitude than the ones found in the Siciliane cards, suggesting a completely different origin for the two patterns of the island.

    A curious detail of the Tarocco Siciliano is that pip cards specify their value and suit by means of a small index-box located centrally on both ends of the cards: for instance, "8 B" means 8 Bastoni = 8 Batons; "10 S" means 10 Spade = 10 Swords, etc. (see enlargement below), a detail that recalls the decorated indices of the 16th century Tarot de Paris.

    part 2
    Milan · Piedmont

    part 3
    Switzerland
    France

    part 4
    Belgium


    part 5
    Germany & Austria
    Hungary

    detail of sample indices



    further reference to tarot decks can be found in Trionfi and in The Hermitage



    page I
    classic
    tarots
    page III
    trump card
    arrangements
    page IV
    modern &
    non-standard
    page V
    theMulûk
    wa-Nuwwâb
    page VI
    the Visconti
    Tarots
    page VII
    the tarots
    of Ferrara
    page VIII
    the tarot
    of Marseille
    page IX
    the Tarot
    de Paris
    page X
    Viéville's
    Tarot
    page XI
    the
    Minchiate
    page XII
    Mitelli's
    Tarocchino
    page XIII
    Mantegna's
    Tarot
    page XIV
    the
    Hofjagdspiel
    page XV
    the
    Hofämsterspiel
    page XVI
    the deck by
    Jost Amman
    page XVII
    the Italy 2
    Moorish deck



    OTHER GALLERIES

    non-standard patterns advertisement decks sizes, shapes and colours standard pattern variants non-suited cards Mercante in Fiera Uta Karuta, Iroha Karuta, Dôsai Karuta Âs nas
    regional patterns: Italy regional patterns: Spain regional patterns: Germany regional patterns: Austria regional patterns: Switzerland regional patterns: France regional patterns: Sweden regional patterns: Portugal regional patterns: China regional patterns: South-Eastern Asia regional patterns: Japan regional patterns: India uncut sheets mottos and proverbs

    or back to
    Introduction
    INTRODUCTION
    AND HISTORY

    Multi-language Glossary
    MULTI-LANGUAGE
    GLOSSARY
    the Fool and the Joker
    THE FOOL &
    THE JOKER
    Index Table
    INDEX
    TABLE
    Regional Games
    REGIONAL
    GAMES
    Playing Card Links
    PLAYING CARD
    LINKS






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