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The Visconti - and the Marseilles

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Diana  Diana is offline
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The Visconti - and the Marseilles


In another thread which is now closed, Darla asked an interesting question. She was replying to a post where I had said something to the effect that some things one can only understand with our heart.

It seemed such a shame not to continue a discussion based on her really interesting question and to get the views of some of the people who view the Marseilles, and not the Visconti, as the Ur-Tarot.

Her post was:

"Someone in this thread (I'm not sure if it was you) mentioned that they treasured the Marseilles so much because it's the UR- Tarot. Since the Visconti is the oldest known deck I was just curious, why the Marseilles and not the oldest."


I have my ideas about this, but before posting them, I would be happy if some other people who consider, like I do, the Marseilles to be the Ur-Tarot, posted their answers. I just wanted to get Darla's question posted so that it would not go lost, because it's a really interesting question and I think it will help a lot of us understand our own views about this. (Sometimes putting things into words makes us understand our own selves better, and our own views.
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I'm not sure I completely understand the question, is it: Does the Marseille pre-date the Visconti?

I have some thoughts re: this, if I'm understanding correctly, although I'm definitely not the expert here. But I'm learning

The original thing that got me thinking that Marseille was truly the older of the two and possibly, then the "Ur" is some things Kris Hadar has on his site, although I haven't yet found the research, is that some of the iconogrpahy dates to the 12th century.

My extremely uneducated opinion, I just looked at them: the artwork of the Visconti seems much more sophisticated, where the Marseille (which some ppl find aesthetically displeasing, but I love the deceptive simplicity) looks more primitive. But them I argue myself in circles because perhaps it took much more sophistication to produce such deceptive simplicity. Yet, the Marseille being the older, probably the oldest, is more something I just feel, although I know that wouldn't hold up in a court of law! SO I am also looking forward to posts by ppl who have a more detailed knowledge of the history than me!
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I am sure some ardent historian will shortly jump in, but I think the Visconti is a lot older than the Marseilles. However, all that might mean is that the only surviving example of a Marseilles deck is more recent . There is probably never going to be a definite answer to that one.

I like to think of these decks as created for differnet levels of society. The Visconti obviously made for a wealthy family of possibly high minded people who might spend a lot of time contemplating myth and religion. While the Marseilles seems rough and crude- the tarot of the street . Taking liberties and making insinuations . Easily accessable to one and all . One is tempted to think that the Marseilles is actually the older , since most upstart innovations come up from the street and are not generated by excessively stuffy intellectual society , which after a certain point just regurgitates its' own ideas ad nauseum rather than seeking anything new.

However, the only way to actually trace the concept might be to hone in on the details of the exact age of the period dress depicted in each deck, if possible.(Provided it was not originally meant to be a depiction of a previous era. )

As for advocating either the Visconti or the Marseilles as the ur-tarot , I tend to see runes as the original template for the whole experiment.
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I don't know any evidence, that the Marseille deck is older than the Visconti.

If we take pictures, which didn't appear on playing cards, as "evidence", or are reported to have been painted or printed on this media, then I would argument, that the Bavarian Animal Tarock is oldest, cause there are about 2.000.000 artefacts in cavern, which "somehow" show animals and surely predates all other graphical art.

The oldest described European deck, from which is more known than its mere existence, are that of Johannes of Rheinfelden, from which the most remarkable shows "nearly 40 professions" and 5 court cards, King, Queen, Ober, Maid, Unter. They do not still exist, but at least there is a somehow reliable description.
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My strong suspicion is that the Visconti is much older than the Marseilles. When you look at surviving decks of Tarots and Tarot-like playing cards, you see greater graphic variety, not less. Not only the Visconti, but you also have graphical variations in the printed cards like the Tarots of Paris and the Belgian and Besancon traditions.

What you had was a winnowing of early variety resulting in a few surviving forms, that became more stylized rather than less so over time.
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Diana  Diana is offline
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I think Darla's question is being misunderstood....

She was not enquiring whether the Visconti is older than the Marseilles (as in which cards were designed first) or vice-versa.

She was questioning why the Tarot of Marseilles is viewed as an Ur-Tarot by those who do view it as the Ur-Tarot, REGARDLESS of which cards were printed or drawn or designed first. (Which is my case, for instance.)
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Plenty of people still read and play games with the Marseille Tarot, but very few - if any - with the Visconti. In today's parlance, the Marseille is more user-friendly, Everyman's deck, where the Visconti is a courtly, very beautiful deck - played in the courts of Italian princes, but not very handy in a caf
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Wink The r-Tarot


Stuart Kaplan, Encyclopedia of Tarot

Quote:
The earliest tarot card appeared before recorded time, drawn with a stick across a mound of soft earth, near a precipice, around the outline of a young man. A dog barks at his heels and the figures shimmer across the ground, long shadows cast by the late afternoon sun in the rectangular shape of a card: The Fool
As quoted on a filler card in the U.S. Games Visconti-Sforza Tarot deck

I guess that a deck whose Fool card has a precipice is the first tarot deck, hee-hee.

Caveat: I don't think that Kaplan was making a historical assertion.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helvetica
Plenty of people still read and play games with the Marseille Tarot
What games do people still play with the Marseilles Tarot? I'm not saying that a Marseilles Tarot deck couldn't be utilized for such a purpose if one really wanted to; however, don't they now generally play the card game "tarot" in France using tarot playing card decks like the images at http://www.fftarot.asso.fr/?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Neon
What games do people still play with the Marseilles Tarot? I'm not saying that a Marseilles Tarot deck couldn't be utilized for such a purpose if one really wanted to; however, don't they now generally play the card game "tarot" in France using tarot playing card decks like the images at http://www.fftarot.asso.fr/?
They can also use the Tarot de Marseille major arcana "atouts" - http://www.bric-a-brac.org/tarot/cartes.php

The pips are like ordinary playing cards, plus four.
A friend of mine taught me years ago, she used the Tarot de Marseille atouts. But they have as many types of decks as tarot readers have! http://maurice.doury.free.fr/Liste%20des%20jeux.htm

I'm not much of a card player, so I didn't keep it up.
It's a very dynamic game, btw.
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