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nuttyprofessor  nuttyprofessor is offline
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Sola-Busca


Apology, it is sola instead of rosa. I thought that the RWS was the first with illustrated pipcards, but now I discovered that Waite was inspired by the Sola Busca (1491).

Can someone tell me whether this deck was also used for divination, and if not, were those illustrations sheerly for decoration?
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There is hardy any evidence to go by. What evidence there is appears to suggest that it was decoration on a deck designed to be used for gambling.That is not to say that the scenes did not have meaning, just that the meanings were incidental to the main purpose of the deck. Though really there is so little actual information available that even saying that is rather speculative.
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Thank you, JasonLion. In contrast to the Sola Busca, the Tarot de Marseille came to be used as a divinatory deck, though it's pips are not illustrated. As it is easier to read pictures, I wonder why TdM didn't incorporate them.

One could argue that cartomancy with ordinary playing cards was practised earlier than tarot divination. But still, it was not until Pamela Coleman Smith saw the Sola Busca cards in the British museum that they became the inspiration for almost all modern decks.
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Remember that the TDM was primarily used for gambling, where the illustrations serve little purpose. Illustrations are more expensive, were not traditional, and divination was only a tiny portion of their market and that only in later years, so there was little reason to add them.

Sola Busca was made for wealthily people who were showing off their wealth by having an exceptionally expensive artifact used for something as trivial as gambling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nuttyprofessor View Post
But still, it was not until Pamela Coleman Smith saw the Sola Busca cards in the British museum that they became the inspiration for almost all modern decks.
I wouldn't say that Sola Busca was the inspiration for the RWS deck, only for a couple of the cards. The Sola Busca was only one of the sources they drew from, and not the most significant.

Waite had already decided to make a deck with illustrated minors, as he was specifically targeting divination. Only then did he pick out decks to use as source material. Of course, Waite would have already seen the Sola Busca at the British Museum. So it might have influenced his decision to illustrate the entire deck. But I've never seen anything that specifically suggests it happened that way.
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It's a matter of conjecture. I think it's quite likely that Waite got the idea of illustrating the Pips from SB rather than coming up with it on his own.
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The Sola Busca was an expensive, copper engraved, hand colored deck, so it's unlikely it was shuffled and used for gaming.

The trump cards refer to Roman history. It's possible the suit cards have alchemical associations. The deck may have been commissioned by a wealthy person who wanted to see his interests embodied in a deck.

Waite's deck was illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. I believe she was the one who saw the Sola Busca deck in the British Museum. There have been other decks with fully illustrated suit cards, like the deck by Vachetta created in Turin in 1893. So there were other sources of inspiration for a fully illustrated deck.
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Aaron Carson  Aaron Carson is offline
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Possible Meanings


I'm fascinated by this deck and thinking of getting a copy. Has anyone worked with it for divination, and if so, what experiences did you have with it? Did you find the meanings vastly removed from other decks due to the visual differences? Did you get a good vibe from it?
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This is such a strange, one-off deck that I would want to put a lot of time into getting familiar with it. And I don't have the time right now. There are two books on the deck, one by Cristina Dorsini and Morena Poltronieri published by Il Meneghello, the other by Sofia di Vincenzo published by US Games and OOP.

If the imagery draws you in, and the connections to alchemy and roman history intrigue you, I think it would be very rewarding deck to study.
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macoram  macoram is offline
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Picture use in the minors


Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Sternbach View Post
It's a matter of conjecture. I think it's quite likely that Waite got the idea of illustrating the Pips from SB rather than coming up with it on his own.
Waite was fully aware of previous decks with pictorial minors such as the Sola Busca and Etteilla Tarot versions. Most Etteilla card meanings are clearly followed by his deck and some Sola Busca pictures were clearly a source of inspiration.

As a conclusive proof we have Waite's own words about his deck:
"In regard to the Minor Arcana, they are the first in modern but not in all times to be accompanied by pictures,..." (The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, 2nd Edition, 1971; page 69).
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Yes, of course Waite was aware of earlier decks that had fully illustrated pips. He was actually quite disdainful of them.

"There in was a period, however, when the numbered cards were also pictures, but such devices were sporadic inventions of particular artists and were either conventional designs of the typical or allegorical kind, distinct from what is understood by symbolism, or they were illustrations—shall we say?—of manners, customs and periods. They were, in a word, adornments, and as such they did nothing to raise the significance of the Lesser Arcana to the plane of the Trumps Major; moreover, such variations are exceedingly few." Waite - The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

He goes on discussing the illustration of the minors, but the wording becomes more challenging and it is difficult to follow, often seeming more interested in insulting those that have gone before than trying to explain his own motivations. Still we are given the following:

"In the rectified Tarot which illustrates the present handbook, all numbered cards of the Lesser Arcana—the Aces only excepted—are furnished with figures or pictures to illustrate-but without exhausting—the divinatory meanings attached thereto."

. . .

"The mere numerical powers and bare words of the meanings are insufficient by themselves; but the pictures are like doors which open into unexpected chambers, or like a turn in the open road with a wide prospect beyond."

Which does seem to say that his goal was to convey the meaning fully and that cards are all illustrated because words, and numbers, alone are insufficient to that task.

One of the practices of the Golden Dawn was to meditate upon the illustrations of the majors to help the seeker more fully understand the meanings behind the cards; to use the card as a door to another world where these meanings were manifest. It seems the minors were to be illustrated in order to enable similar work to be done with them. And further that Waite considered this to be very different from the purpose of the illustrations accompanying the few decks that had previously been made with fully illustrated minors.
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