Tarot & the Moors


Elsewhere mention has been made of the "secret" of paper-making entering Christian Europe (perhaps via Occitania) from Spain, which at the time was a predominantly Moslem country. I wonder if we don't tend to be very Christian Euro-centric in our historical views, and downplay or ignore the contributions of the Spanish moslems.

In the 1100s, there was the high culture of the court of the Dukes of Aquitaine unlike anywhere else in France, complete with poets, minstrels, chefs, scholars, and so on, no doubt influenced by their close neighbours to the southwest. Eleanor of Aquitaine (later Queen of France, and then Queen of England) was certainly known to consort with "moors", was suspect in religion, and even had a name likely derived from Arabic [El-e-Anor].

Could playing cards in general, and "el taro" in particular, had their European roots in Islamic Spain?

Is there any evidence of this path of origin, or was it lost with the Christian destruction of so many moslem records in Spain after 1492?

Spanish history has apparently been substantially rewritten since that time, with certain moslem heroes being recast as Christian ones. (In America that year is famous for something else that pales in importance to the final defeat of one of the most civilized kingdoms anywhere by Isabella and Ferdinand and the ramping up of the Inquisition.)

I'm told that large private collections of moslem records and literature from the 10th to the early 15th centuries exist in modern Spain, but few have had scholarly access to them.

To me, given the advanced Islamic culture in Spain for centuries, and the trade they conducted with what became France and Italy, this is an avenue that cries out for research, regarding tarot and many other things.

le pendu

I think the possibilites are very interesting, and would love to learn more.


Tarot Roots

Thanks, trismegistus, for the suggested thread. There is a lot of material there.

It would seem that Arab/Moslem influences had a number of possible routes into Christian Europe, including with the Crusaders, via the Balkans, and by trade contacts into Greece, Venice (and likely Genoa and Naples), southern France, Sicily, and of course the (Spanish) kingdom of El Andaluse.

The TdM "pip" cards at least have always seemed to me perfectly acceptable to the most zealous moslem; perhaps because they were created in that culture? The trumps pose some difficulties though.

How interesting that tarot, perhaps the most European of divination tools, might actually originate in ancient Persia!