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MikeH 
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I want to put my previous remarks into a wider context. I base myself on the work of Dummett's that I consider fundamental, namely his 1993 Il Mondo e l'Angelo. He talks about a developmental period in the history of the tarot, before the deck was standardized (p. 98).
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Il mazzo Visconti di Modrone fornisce una prova che il mazzo dei tarocchi subì una certa evoluzione, come era da attendersi. Quest’evoluzione deve aver toccato senza dubbio i soggetti dei trionfi, e forse anche il loro numero. Poiché la serie dei trionfi è estremamente incompleta in tutti i gruppi di carte da tarocchi dipinte a mano, a parte il mazzo Visconti-Sforza e i tarocchi ‘Carlo VI’, si possono avanzare ipotesi di vario tipo. E nondimeno probabile che, a partire dal 1450, fosse ormai fissa la composizione standard di un mazzo di tarocchi, per quanto riguarda sia il numero delle carte che i soggetti dipinti sui trionfi.

(The Visconti di Madrone pack provides evidence that the tarot pack underwent a certain evolution, as was to be expected. This development undoubtedly must have affected the trump subjects, and perhaps even their number. Since the set of trumps is extremely incomplete in all groups of hand-painted tarot cards, apart from the Visconti-Sforza pack and 'Charles VI' tarot, one can advance hypotheses of various types. It is nevertheless likely that, beginning in 1450, it the standard composition of a tarot pack was now set, as regards both the number of cards and the subjects painted on the triumphs.)
This is in the context of what will be his hypothetical date of invention of 1428-1430 in Milan (p. 106). It seems reasonable to me that the standard subjects were in fact prevailing by 1450 in at least some places. It may have taken a little longer to actual standardize the standard in all regions, and even then there are holdouts and exceptions. Prudence pops up in the list of Lollio/Imperiali, and in the [i]Anonymous Discourse]/i], not as an addition but as a kind of substitute, in the first case for the Traitor and in the second for Temperance. And there is Alciati's curious list, with Fama in place of Temperanza. Dummett argues that the earliest list, in the Sermones de Ludus should rightly be considered 1480-1500. It appears in a volume which has been dated as possibly as early as 1450. Dummett observes:
Quote:
Ricerche più recenti di Ronald Decker suggeriscono una data più tarda per lo stesso volume, perché alcuni fogli hanno filigrane del 1500 circa. Ovviamente la scrittura del libro può essere stata di molti anni posteriore alla predica del sermone, che è perciò da datare fra il 1480 e il 1500.

(More recent research by Ronald Decker suggest a later date for the same volume, because some papers have watermarks circa 1500. Of course, the writing of the book may have been many years back to the preaching of the sermon, which is therefore to be dated between 1480 and 1500.)
Later he discusses his famous three groups, achieved by comparing the 18 or so different lists when the virtues are taken out. It is a purely formal operation that has nothing to do with any conceptualizing of what links the members of the groups together. Then there is the question of how to account for these differences. It is an explanation that in fact is not limited to just the order, but also the subjects themselves, in the developmental period (p. 177f). In what follows, the part I want to emphasize is in bold print:
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Continuamente osserviamo che i giocatori di una data città o paese giocano solo fra loro e non conoscono quelli di una città vicina; le regole specifiche e talvolta il genere stesso di gioco praticato, variano da città a città; i giocatori di una data cerchia ignorano completamente il modo di giocare di [178] quelli di un’altra e spesso la loro stessa esistenza. I diversi ordini di trionfi che troviamo in Italia devono rappresentare pratiche diverse adottate in città diverse, presumibilmente in uno stadio anteriore a quello in cui cominciò l’iscrizione sistematica dei numerali sui trionfi. E evidente che, quasi immediatamente dopo l’invenzione dei tarocchi, i giocatori di città e regioni diverse svilupparono particolarità locali nel modo di giocare e che esse, in Italia, coinvolsero anche l’ordine convenzionale dei trionfi;q uesto fenomeno deve essersi verificato prima che, da qualche parte, divenisse consuetudine l’inscrizione di numerali sui trionfi — e quindi prima della fine del XV secolo. I diversi ordini dei trionfi attestano non la dipendenza dai soli numerali per l’identificazione, ma 1’esistenza, fin dai primi tempi, di una vasta gamma di variazioni locali nel modo di giocare.

E questo elemento, più ancora delle differenze fra i modelli standard usati nelle diverse aree, a fornire la discriminante principale per distinguere tre diverse tradizioni di Tarocchi, la cui origine risale ai primi stadi dello sviluppo del gioco. Non siamo in grado di stabilire se i diversi ordini di trionfi furono adottati come deviazioni intenzionali dalla pratica dei giocatori di altre città, o semplicemente come conseguenza di un imperfetto ricordo di tale pratica ; ma è evidente che almeno le caratteristiche principali di ciascuno dei vari ordini possono essere state fissate solo nel primo momento in cui il gioco fu introdotto nell’area che osserva quel dato ordine. Vedremo che l’ordine di tipo A rappresenta la pratica dei giocatori di Bologna, quello di tipo B la pratica dei giocatori di Ferrara e quello di tipo C la pratica dei giocatori di Milano.

(We continuously observe the players in a given city or region only play with each other and do not know those of a neighboring town; specific rules and sometimes the kind of game played itself, vary from city to city; players of a given circle completely ignore in manner of play [178] those of another, and often their very existence. The different orders of triumphs that we find in Italy must represent divergent practices in different cities, presumably at an earlier stage than when the systematic entry of numerals for triumphs began. It is clear that, almost immediately after the invention of the tarot, players of different towns and regions developed local particularities in the manner of play and that, in Italy, the formal order of the triumphs was also involved. This phenomenon must have occurred before, somewhere, the inscription of numerals on the triumphs became the custom - and thus before the end of the fifteenth century. The different orders of triumphs does not attest only to the lack of dependence on numerals for identification, but to the existence, from the earliest times, of a wide range of local variations in the manner of play

It is this element, even more than the differences between the standard models used in different areas, that provides the main discriminant to distinguish the three different traditions of the Tarot, whose origin dates back to the early developmental stages of the game. We are not able to determine whether the different orders of triumphs were adopted as intentional deviations from the practice of players to other cities, or simply as a result of an imperfect recollection of this practice; but it is evident that at least the main features of each of the various orders can only have been laid down the first time the game was introduced in the area that observes the given order. We will see that the order of type A is the practice of the players of Bologna, one of type B the practice of Ferrara players and type C the practice of the players of Milan.)
However there is also the phenomenon in Florence where two different but in many ways similar decks do not differ in their order but do in the precise subjects and number of cards, namely trionfi and minchiate. And there is the phenomenon that Prudence continues to pop up in various places, not only between Hope and Faith in minchiate, but in place of the Traitor in Lollio/Imperali (see http://www.associazioneletarot.it/pa...id=124&lng=ENG and http://www.naibi.net/A/03-FERRARA-Z.pdf) and of Temperance in the Anonymous Discourse (see http://www.naibi.net/A/02-ITATARO-Z.pdf). There will be a different rationale in each case.

This principle of the localization of play, it seems to me, can affect the subjects of the cards as well as their order and in that case is even not limited to the developmental period. It is a phenomenon we will see again in the Protestant/Catholic border areas when the Popess and Pope are replaced by other cards, Juno and Jupiter or Captain Fracasse and Bacchus. There does not even have to be facilities for the local mass production of such cards. It is only necessary that the authorities have a sample of what they want, created by one of their artists, and require the producer in the other place to produce cards of that type.

There is no reason why Milan should somehow be unique in this regard, and be the only place to produce a somewhat different deck for its own reasons in response to a new phenomenon elsewhere. It is possible, but it is just as likely to go the reverse. That a Milanese deck actually exists that does not conform to the standard verified later does not preclude others having followed the principle earlier but with cheaper decks that did not survive.

I think we can go one step further than Dummett regarding this principle. The variability of a card in the different orders is a measure of how early in the developmental process the card was introduced. When a deck arrives from one place from another, the card makers and players may not only find the order illogical but come to prefer a somewhat different selection of subjects. That seems to have in fact happened. Prudence seems to have been a particularly hard subject to fit in; it occurs in several places in the sequence and most commonly not at all. The virtues are the most variable, so they are among the oldest. Some of the "Petrarchan" cards are also variable, but some more than others. On the other hand, there are other factors: ambiguities and alterations in meaning might have affected the variability. There is a Petrarchan Chastity, represented by a female Charioteer, which becomes the Chariot, often with a male charioteer. The meaning is different. Time is represented by an old man, who logically then might be put before Death. Fame was represented in Boccaccio and some of the illuminations of Petrarch as a a lady and a circle with a landscape and castles. Is it the World? Or is it the New Jerusalem, as in the 2nd artist PMB card? Its position in the order fluctuates accordingly, which then affects the place of the Angel of Judgment. Love, the Wheel, and Death are fairly clear; their order fluctuates the least. The Emperor and Empress, whom we know are early, are also clear.

Some cards are virtually fixed in their order. The sequence Devil-Fire-Star-Moon-Sun is always the same. They are non-Petrarchan, not virtues, not Imperials, and do not fit in the chess analogy. There are not in the Cary-Yale, and the theologicals are in their place in the minchiate. All these factors together suggests a late addition, at least in some places, at a time when there was much more interaction among regions than previously. The same can be said for the Bagatella, which is always first, and the Traitor always 12 (except the Sicilian, but that is not very early).

All of this is additional argument for the 16 cards of Pratesi's and my reconstructions, and my proposed shifts in the order and eventually the subjects as well, toward replacements and expansions.

There is one thing I could use some help on, in these reconstructions. I can see the rationale for substituting Prudence for Temperance, as in the Anonymous Discourse. Prudence, in the ordinary sense of the word, is knowing the correct means toward a desired end and acting on that knowledge. "Cleaving to the mean" is a good guide to follow in one's means toward achieving the objective. So it includes Temperance. In the case of the Traitor, Prudence is what needs to be followed to avoid what is pictured on the card. To the extent that the Traitor is Judas (the 12th disciple), Prudence involves following God's will so as to be with God in eternity. That puts Prudence higher in the hierarchy.

But what is the rationale for putting Prudence between Hope and Charity, as we see in minchiate and in Franco's reconstruction of a proto-minchiate? I have a tentative solution, but it needs filling out in relation to Florence of the 1430s or later. First, Prudence involves knowing one's true good, not only the means toward attaining a good. The true good is God and being with God, loved by and loving God. So it belongs with the theological virtues, if one is going to put with one set rather than another. Then for why it is between hope and faith, all I can think of is that while Jesus's coming to earth and dying for our sins gives us hope of attaining our true good, faith involves knowing rationally that that end is attainable and how to attain it. It is like crossing a bridge. When I get to it, I may hope that I with my heavy load can cross it. But examining the bridge with the eyes of an building engineer, who knows how to build a bridge, and seeing the example of others, can give me faith that in acting in a certain way will help me to attain the goal. So hope plus prudence leads to faith. Reason is Faith's handmaiden. And God's Charity is what I will need to get there, since my own merits are inevitably deficient. If God is to be charitable to me, I must be charitable to those in a weaker position than me.

This is a somewhat ad hoc rationale. I am curious to know what was actually said about Prudence in relation to the theological virtues in that time--a textual justification, if possible, not for the whole sequence but just that small part.
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Old 22-02-2016     Top   #11
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Thank you so much for this. I just turned the entire thread into a PDF to send to a colleague who is very interested in 15th century tarot (as am I) and it consumed 50 pages. It will be a while before I can comb through it all, but there's obviously some very fascinating material here.
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Old 25-02-2016     Top   #12
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Mike H. - I'm in love with your mind, your dedication and your spirit! I've been consumed with other things - death and illness for a couple of months, so I just saw this thread. I haven't yet read the whole thing but I intend to do so. I appreciate the clarity that you bring to confusing topics, and also the background to why and how these issues matter. You've done Pratesi proud - bringing his latest findings and speculations to us.



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Old 29-02-2016     Top   #13
MikeH 
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Thanks to both of you. These posts, Franco's and mine, are not an easy read. Some people think the best account of the early stages of the tarot is the simplest, and that it began in one person's mind with no "developmental stage". I am not convinced that new inventions always work like that: change is often gradual, even if rather quick, and with complex solutions sometimes being replaced by simpler ones, until something stable has been achieved. Documentation is often scarce for such beginnings, too. Paleontologists find the same with fossils--intermediary fossils between species are scarce.

It might help to read the last post first, the one with lengthy quotes from Dummett. His 1993 book is really the starting point methodologically, at least for me.

I am glad to see you bouncing back, Mary, but sorry to hear about the death and illness you mention.
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Old 29-02-2016     Top   #14
Ross G Caldwell 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeH View Post
Some people think the best account of the early stages of the tarot is the simplest, and that it began in one person's mind with no "developmental stage".
I'm one of those "some people", just for the record. I don't think there are many others, to tell you the truth.

I'll defend the "one person's mind" position, with the qualification that of course I recognize that certain elements of the Tarot deck and game existed prior to the invention of the 21 trump sequence and the game we know as Tarot.

For instance, Queens were already present, at least in the pack most used in Tuscany.

The idea of trumping was already present, in games like Karnöffel, which might be the same as the Emperor's game known in Italy.

A pack with a sequence of cards acting as permanent trumps was already conceived by the early 1420s (Filippo-Marziano), and possibly packs with at least one special high card, such as an Emperor, in Florence in the 1430s.
So, the idea of permanent trumps also existed prior to, and independently of, Tarot.

Cards acting as wild cards or the "Excuse" also existed before, not only Tarot, but also European card games (for instance in the Chinese "money packs"). Games tend to generate these things out of their own economy, a phenomenon I call "ludic logic".

Thus, I don't hold that all of these features of Tarot were invented with it. Just that what we call the standard 21 subjects, in a specific hierarchical order, was conceived "in one person's mind" (not excluding a small group working together) and then designed, produced, and marketed under the name "Triumphs".

So, there were both conceptual precursors to Tarot's trumping feature, and design precursors to Tarot's trumps. But, none of these are Tarot (or the game of "trionfi"), and, I would argue, none of them are the equivalent of evolutionary "stages" in Tarot's development, at least in the sense in which the term evolution is used as an analogy with biological evolution (which is adaptation). The precursors were preconditions, some possibly even necessary preconditions, of Tarot's invention, but the standard sequence of trumps was complete on invention.



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Old 01-03-2016     Top   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ross G Caldwell View Post
Just that what we call the standard 21 subjects, in a specific hierarchical order, was conceived "in one person's mind" (not excluding a small group working together) and then designed, produced, and marketed under the name "Triumphs".

The precursors were preconditions, some possibly even necessary preconditions, of Tarot's invention, but the standard sequence of trumps was complete on invention.
My burning question is: what kind of mind created the tarot trump sequence? There's the precedent of an aristocrat commissioning an allegorical card game from a courtier. But the tarot trumps don't seem to be as orderly and systematic as one would expect if they were created by a well-educated mind. To me, they have more of a folk art feel. Could they be the creation of a printer and artist?

This brings up another question: Which is more likely, that tarot was invented in a courtly setting and trickled down to the masses? Or the aristocrats took up a popular game and indulged in a fad for gold-plated cards.

I just read a description of a new ebook on Amazon by Giovanni Pelosini attributing tarot to humanist academies using tarot trumps to encode Neo-Platonic secrets. I think tarot was invented too early for this. The so-called "Mantegna" prints are what I would expect a deck to look like if it had been created by a humanist associated with a court.
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Old 05-03-2016     Top   #16
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I want to thank Ross for presenting his version of the theory of "tarot origins" that I alluded to. It is thoughtful, well considered theory. I want to make it clear that I have nothing against it. It's just that it does not seem to me the only reasonable alternative, given the currently known facts that I have mentioned. Probably other facts will be found. However people do not usually look for facts willy-nilly. They look with certain hypotheses in mind. It is my view that it is better to have more than one hypothesis in mind when looking for facts. If you look at the world through rose-colored glasses, the world will look rosy. If you look at it through a different lens, it may appear different. In fact, things that appear the same color in one lens may appear of different colors through another--and vice versa. The problem is to distinguish the viewer from the viewed. It is not an insoluble problem. Also, if you have only one hypothesis, you might overlook evidence that fits some other hypothesis better, or at least as well.

Sherryl: When you ask whether the sequence was created in a folk atmosphere or a courtly one, one answer might be: both. How is that possible? Well, if some cards were created for a court, and other cards were created for the people, it is quite possible. It is only impossible if all the cards were created at once for the same consumers, as Ross maintains. If the Cary-Yale had 16, and 3 of them were not used again, that leaves quite a bit of room for changes to increase sales of cheap decks, on the way to 22. In the hypothesis I have been examining, the Cary-Yale had 16 cards created in a courtly atmosphere. The hypothesis does not say that they were all invented there, or that the idea of a special trump suit was invented then. But I would be interested in knowing which of those 16 you find particularly folksy (Emperor, Empress, Love, Justice, Fortitude, Wheel of Fortune, Faith, Hope, Charity, Chariot, Death, Temperance, Prudence, Fame, Time, Eternity), and as expressed in what particular deck. I would agree that the Bagatella, the Matto, maybe the Popess (if taken as the Pope's mistress), the Devil, and Fire/Lightning Bolt are pretty folksy. So are Hermits (with lanterns rather than hour-glasses). And if the Devil and the Popess, then the Pope. These are all cards I am happy to attribute to card-makers out to make their fortunes one ducat at a time off the people, even if a little disorder is added as a result. Whether they were or not is of course another question: they are also subjects that might appeal to a noble family's children. In Milan, there is ample evidence that tarocchi was a social game, and by the 1450s if not earlier seen as proper for children, as in the fresco at Pavia.

For some cards, which category they go in--folk or court--will be a matter of interpretation, or be courtly in some decks and not in others: love can be high-minded and chivalric or not, I suppose, but all the early cards I've seen suggest noble and chivalric. The Sun in one early version had a lady with a distaff. If you take her as a working woman, then it might be folksy, but if as Clotho--one of the Fates--it's not.

Ross: the question of Queens has been on my mind. What is a good reference for pre-1440 Tuscan Queens in the normal deck? Also wild cards there, as opposed to China. I grant that they are not that hard to invent, even if there wasn't a Joker in the 52 card pack until the 19th century. But a European reference would settle my mind. And trumps? It is not only the idea of a trump suit, but of a special suit with that function. which the Swiss didn't think of in the game of Karnoffel. Emperors are most logically above Kings, and so not a suit of their own. Dummett, as I recall, thought that it was too much to suppose that special wild cards--cards with only that function--and special trumps were invented at the same time. It is not impossible, to be sure, but not obviously the way it was. There are other possibilities.
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Old 05-03-2016     Top   #17
Ross G Caldwell 
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Hi, Mike,

The evidence for queens is a sermon of Bernardino of Siena in Siena in 1425, and the Latin model-sermon he wrote about 1440, after he had stopped actively preaching.

Thierry quoted both in extenso in an article that I quoted here -
http://forum.tarothistory.com/viewto...tart=40#p14441

Bernardino mentions re (king) and reina (queen), and "reges atque reginae" (kings and queens). Since it is in the context of both a popular sermon and a formal, model sermon for the use of his order, he assumed that his hearers and readers were familiar with this kind of deck.

I also alluded to it here in 2008 -

http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.p...99&postcount=7



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Old 05-03-2016     Top   #18
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Thanks, Ross. I had forgotten. Not only is there a Queen, but a Queen's attendant ("queen of ribaldry"): in other words, two male courts (King and Knight) and, apparently, two female courts (Queen and Female Page). That would parallel the Spanish word for the (today male) page, sota, a feminine noun, and the same word in the extinct Portuguese deck, in which the sota actually was depicted as female (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_playing_cards). If so, the Cary-Yale would represent the complete set. The Portuguese pattern is often thought to be the original Latin pattern, originating in Spain. of which the Spanish and Italian are later variants.

From Bernardino's sermon, it would also appear that the order went King-Knight-Queen-Page (Female?). Not only is that the order he gives the cards, ending with "queen of ribaldry", but "above is sodomy" would imply a male-male relationship. For the other pair, "below is lust". Either female-female sex was not sodomy (not being the sin of Sodom, anal sex), or the Queen is enjoying her male attendant non-anally. I would think the former more likely.

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Old 06-03-2016     Top   #19
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Sodomy is not necessarily homosexual - one of Medici's carnival poems refers to resorting to sodomy during a woman's period (euphemistically as making use of 'the neighbour's little pot') - or as a way to avoid pregnancy.

However, I read it somewhat differently, as I read it the reference is to only to two court cards, kings and queens, the second in each is a descriptive epiteth, rather than a separate card? King (King of Lechers), Queen (Queen of Sluts); above is sodomy, below is wantoness. The 'above' is a knight, and that 'below' is the valet, so the knight is a sodomite and the valet is wanton/lustful. If that is the case then the order is the standard King & Queen (of male and female ribalds), Knight (over, sopra, sodomite) and Valet (under, sotto, lust).



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Old 06-03-2016     Top   #20
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