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

THE TAROT DE PARIS

part 2
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GALLERY INDEX







go to part 1

page I
classic
tarots
page II
regional
tarots
page III
trump card
arrangements
page IV
modern &
non-standard
page V
theMulûk
wa-Nuwwâb
page VI
the Visconti
Tarots
page VII
the tarot
of Marseille
page IX
Viéville's
Tarot
page X
the
Minchiate
page XI
Mitelli's
Tarocchino
page XII
Mantegna's
Tarot
page XIII
the
Hofämsterspiel
page XIV
the deck by
Jost Amman


THE SUIT CARDS
A general consideration is that all the suit cards have a two-digit index, referring to the value and suit, respectively. The shape of the index is also peculiar, as it looks like a small cartouche decorated with tiny rampant lions, which appears at the top and bottom rim of the subject. Aces and court cards, instead, have only the top index, being the bottom one replaced by the name of the subject in full (as the one the trumps have). The letters used are A (As, "ace"), F (Faon archaic word for "knave"), R (Royne, "queen") and again R (Roy, "king"). Therefore, kings and queens of the same suit have identical indices, what makes them quite useless for a player. The use of F for knaves is quite unusual, and reminiscent of the italian Fante), although early Italian tarots never had indices.

an unusual 2 of Swords, with hands


aces of Coins and Cups
The real oddity of the Tarot de Paris is represented by the four aces: unlike in any other tarot known, they feature the suit sign on a large flag held by a lion (Coins), a deer (Cups), a griffon (Batons) and a unicorn (Swords). This is very similar to the flags that in some German hunting decks appeared on the 10s of all suits (picture on the right). The Parisian subjects was probably borrowed from these card, although they are aces, worth 1.
10 of Hounds
(Stuttgarter Spielkarten)

Another riddle is the spelling of the word AS ("ace"): in all four cards it clearly reads "AR"; it is not a typo, and at the same time it makes no sense. The ace of Swords also has an index that reads "A S" instead of "A E" (i.e. As d'Espee, according to the name of the Swords suit, also spelt in the court cards).

In each suit the pips are decorated in a different way, and arranged in non-standard fashion.
Coins bear the crests of several noble families of those times; the one used for decorating the most important subjects (ace and all four courts) features the three fleur-de-lys of the French royal family.

aces of Swords and Batons


10 of Swords and 9 of Batons;
note the unusual arrangement of the pips
Cups are shaped as the type found in Spanish cards, i.e. the ones closed with a lid, variously decorated with motifs, small heads, etc., in such a way that not two of them are identical in the whole suit.
Swords are sabres, i.e. with a curved blade, except for the knave, who holds a long and straight sword of mediaeval fashion.
Batons are cudgels, again as in Spanish cards, but without a rounded end; they are similar to those held by the court personages in a standard Marseille pack.

queen of Batons
Lastly, some courts are portrayed in unusual attitudes, such as the knave of Cups and the cavalier of Swords, drawn as seen from the back.


In conclusion, the Tarot de Paris may be considered as the attempt by an unknown card designer to blend the local traditional tarot with elements borrowed from other existing patterns (Italian, German, Spanish), moved by the intention of creating a fancy, unusual, attractive deck. And since four centuries later his cards still stir our interest, we should agree that his goal has been fully achieved.


the two courts pictured from the back


go to part 1





page I
classic
tarots
page II
regional
tarots
page III
trump card
arrangements
page IV
modern &
non-standard
page V
theMulûk
wa-Nuwwâb
page VI
the Visconti
Tarots
page VII
the tarot
of Marseille
page IX
Viéville's
Tarot
page X
the
Minchiate
page XI
Mitelli's
Tarocchino
page XII
Mantegna's
Tarot
page XIII
the
Hofämsterspiel
page XIV
the deck by
Jost Amman



OTHER GALLERIES

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

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