The Fool in the 5x14 theory

Huck

Ross G Caldwell said:
There is no specific evidence for it, either on any surviving cards or in any rules. This is one of the reasons the theory is "controversial".



One of the reasons the 14 Bembo cards seem to make sense as complete unit is that the allegory can still make sense with so few cards.

But even if we want to see a 14 trump series, I don't agree with autorbis' reconstruction.

For me, the Fool is outside the sequence, but as Kwaw I think correctly notes, for the designer of the allegory he would come first. For allegorical purposes I would put the other thirteen cards (tentatively) as -

Bagattino
4 Popes and Emperors (no ranking among them)
Love
Chariot
Justice
Wheel
Hermit
Traitor
Death
Angel

I wouldn't put numbers on them at the beginning. So the "number" 13 doesn't have to be Death.

The problem of the numbering came later, and in my opinion is the main cause of all the different orders. That's when Death had to be 13.

But for the historical reconstruction of the original order of the trumps, the numbering of them is a red herring.

When we assume a natural jump from a deck with a 4x14-structure to a deck with a 5x14-structure by adding a predefined 5th trump-suit, then naturally any user (or a lot of them) of the deck would imply on this new suit already created associations to the suits generally.
From Johannes of Rheinfelden (1377, 1-2 generation before the Bembo-cards, we know, that in his observed deck numbers were given to 1-10 naturally and also numbers to his courts (11 - 15) in sequence "without great riddle". So the idea was given long before ... although one might suggest, that this was a rule, which were not taken everywhere.

When the 5th suit was added, naturally at least some of the users would imply numbers. Deciding would be, what the designer himself thought of it ... actually the designer loved their decks more than others, so it should be natural to assume: "they also thought of numbers".

And we've a sequence in the Michelino deck (ca. 1425). A sequence implies usually numbers.
Why should suddenly the Bembo cards have had no numbers, when decks before and decks after it had them?
 

Ross G Caldwell

Huck said:
Why should suddenly the Bembo cards have had no numbers, when decks before and decks after it had them?

But the Bembo cards do not have numbers; and they don't have any hints in the pictures what their order should be.

And why would everybody else change their order later? Regular cards didn't get their order changed. Queens didn't get higher than Kings, 2s didn't beat Kings. They stayed pretty standard. Why would the trumps, if they had such a fixed order from the beginning, not be like normal cards?
 

le pendu

I find the "idea" of a 14 card set of trumps very interesting, and think it is quite possible that at an early stage a 14 card set of Trumps existed.

I found it striking that the Cary-Yale had 6 of the Virtues in it, and that made me wonder if at one point there was a 14 card set with Vices and Virtues in it.

However, I personally don't believe the Visconti-Sfroza deck is an example of a 14 card set. To me, the iconography of the 14 have to be stretched and twisted to seem like a complete set. The "method" behind choosing those images is not present to me.

best,
robert
 

Huck

le pendu said:
I find the "idea" of a 14 card set of trumps very interesting, and think it is quite possible that at an early stage a 14 card set of Trumps existed.

I found it striking that the Cary-Yale had 6 of the Virtues in it, and that made me wonder if at one point there was a 14 card set with Vices and Virtues in it.

However, I personally don't believe the Visconti-Sfroza deck is an example of a 14 card set. To me, the iconography of the 14 have to be stretched and twisted to seem like a complete set. The "method" behind choosing those images is not present to me.

best,
robert

Hi Robert,

The Cary-Yale has 16 court and number cards and logically it should be expected to have been a 5x16-deck. This was already theme to a very old article, which perhaps should be updated a little bit:

http://trionfi.com/0/c/2209/

"16" pleases the fact, that the earlier Michelino-deck already had 16 trumps and the facts, that Filippo Maria Visconti had a favour for chess (16 figures) and specific astrolological-geontical ideas (also 16 figures). Also it pleases the fact, that the bride was in October 1441 126 years old and the expected husband 24 years older (24 court-cards) and totally 40 years old (40 number-cards). Also it transported specific ideas of women liberation: Queens, female knights and female pages meet Kings, male knights and male pages, and that all after 10 years before Jeanne d'Arc had proven, that "female knights are not a totally bad idea".

http://trionfi.com/0/c/34/

So there is a subtil, complex, very personal consideration behind the 16.

le pendu said:
However, I personally don't believe the Visconti-Sfroza deck is an example of a 14 card set. To me, the iconography of the 14 have to be stretched and twisted to seem like a complete set. The "method" behind choosing those images is not present to me.

There is no evidence for any 22-concept in connection to the known trionfi decks and documents before 1468 and the deck is definitely painted by 2 different painters.

An interpretation is given at various opportunities, that the 14 Bembo cards could have been regarded as a complete system.
A complete logical way is given, how the game developed the trump idea and made the 5th suit with all its speciaties logical.

It's made apparent, that there was not an early standard, but many curious creative ways to present the theme: Michelino deck, Sola-Busca, Mantegna Tarocchi, recently Leber Tarocchi in combination with Cicognara-cards, Minchiate, Goldschmidt-Guildhall cards beside numerological differences at different locations. Not to mention other appearances in book form as the marriage 1476 with a trionfo della fama or De Sphaera or frescoes like in the Palazzo Schifanoia.

What else do you demand as evidence, that the early time of the Trionfi cards knew a lot of creativity and different ideas? Standard was not interesting. Look through the early German decks for comparition and see: standard was not interesting. See, that there are simply no cheap decks in the early time. And the name Trionfi cards simply connects "for rich and powerful people only."
Mass production opened the standard idea. We've no evidence for early mass-production. All what we know about Trionfi cards tells us: we can count them. There are not much. The usual price was something, for which a noble man had to pay a weeks salary. And he could hire a servant for 3 monthes for the same money. Even when we take the cheapest price, we ever heard of (1/8 of the usual price) it's still expensive.

And to "the iconography of the 14 have to be stretched and twisted to seem like a complete set": What's difficult in a 5 + 5 + 4-structure? Isn't it expectable from a development from a 1-10 + 4 court-card-structure? Especially, when 1 + 10 are normal centers of the card decks already produced?

What's difficult in 5 + 5 parted in 1+4 + 4+1? Look at the 10 fingers of your hand and you see, that nothing is unusual with it, it's a logical and simple idea. The Magician=1 shows a 4 and Wheel=10 shows 4 figures, naturally associating the 4 ages in life or the 4 seasons.
Love to spring and youth, triumph to summer as the height of the sun, harvest with its relation to libra in the form of Justice and the Hermit as the the sign of age and winter. What's difficult?

And you shouldn't overlook, that the whole context is "female dominated", not naturally considered to please the logic of men, but that from young girls, which desire to marry soon.

So justice is a female with a knight in the background. The Chariot driver is a female. Even the hermit, the old man, is painted in a nice way.
 

Huck

Ross G Caldwell said:
But the Bembo cards do not have numbers; and they don't have any hints in the pictures what their order should be.

And why would everybody else change their order later? Regular cards didn't get their order changed. Queens didn't get higher than Kings, 2s didn't beat Kings. They stayed pretty standard. Why would the trumps, if they had such a fixed order from the beginning, not be like normal cards?

We can talk about young girls taste. Did they like numbers on their cards? As it seems not. Other users, who had the mass standard, did need the numbers. These were precious decks, numbers would have made them look bad. And perhaps they were considered not to be played only in games, in which the numbering of the cards was used ... in these games the decks would look nasty.
Dummett's researches give the impression, that there always was only the game Tarot, as he knows it and as it is loved to be played by himself ... :) but that's nonsense. Dummett has no real way to look in the heads of the early players and he was totally wrong in expecting an early mass distribution. At least we've not met the evidence for it till now to assume that.

And to "Why would the trumps, if they had such a fixed order from the beginning, not be like normal cards?":

Likely one joke of the decks was partly to discuss the row. We've clear signs, that in the early time girls brought such decks to a foreign court with her marriage. So these cards had with intention a surprize and a very individual message and naturally an individual outfit. But naturally, they contained a row in the mind of the designer - which could be detected. But not naturally easily. Just like the poem of Boiardo. Tricky word games, not easy to discover.
 

le pendu

Hi Huck,

Huck said:
The Cary-Yale has 16 court and number cards and logically it should be expected to have been a 5x16-deck.
I wasn't saying that the Cary-Yale Visconti was a 14 or 22 trump set. I simply said that I believe there may have been a 14 Trump set based on the Vices and Virtues, and the Cary-Yale Visconti led me to that suspicion.

I think it quite possible that Cary-Yale Visconti was a 16 trump set as I've stated elsewhere, I suspect it was been made by combining the Virtures, the Triumphs, and the Emperors.

Huck said:
There is no evidence for any 22-concept in connection to the known trionfi decks and documents before 1468 and the deck is definitely painted by 2 different painters.
Huck said:
So? We've got unrelated decks with different structures, including the Cary-Yale which certainly doesn't fit the "traditional" structure with its Virtues and additional courts. Can we prove that the 22 came before or after? Not as far as I am concerned. I think it is entirely possible that the 22 existed first and there was later experimentation, or that there was experimentation and then the 22. We do not know. We do not know who invented the 22 "traditional" trumps, or when, or where.

You suggest that the Visconti-Sforza proves that a 5X14 structure existed. I don't believe this. I think it is just as likely that cards were lost and replaced. Was it a 22? I don't know, but I doubt it was a 14.

Trionfi.com has devoted an entire website to proving that 5X14 decks existed, and while I don't think you have proved this, I think there is enough evidence to suggest that experimentation existed, and it is quite probable that 5X14 decks existed. But that does not mean that you have proved that they were FIRST, and it does not prove that the Visconti-Sforza was one.

When I look at a 14 trump Visconti-Sforza, it does not have the inherent logic that the Gods deck exhibits. And no matter how many pages of dates and people are placed on Trionfi.com, I am unlikely to change my mind until there is some proof, not just conjecture.

It is difficult to argue the point with you. I am NOT a scholar, I am an enthusiast. I don't have the debating skills of someone like Michael Hurst to counter the tons of data that Trionfi piles on people. I just have to step back, look at the evidence, and draw my own conclusion.

At this point. I'm willing to agree there was experimentation. I'm willing to agree that there was probably 5X14 decks, as I have said repeatedly I suspect one may have existed with the Vices and Virtues. But you have not convinced me that they were first, and you have not convinced me that the Visconti-Sforza is an example. The placing of the cards which brought up this question in the first place... Fool=11... is an example of why I am not convinced.

best,
robert
 

jmd

Huck earlier says that 'When the 5th suit was added, naturally at least some of the users would imply numbers'.

This, for the game, need not have been the case at all.

Unlike the other suits, in which there is an implied ascending order (in that a 6 is superior to a 3 but inferior to a court, and courts have their own internal hierarchy), the trumps may simply be used for trumping purposes, in which the last played trump takes the hand.

This only becomes problematic when a hand is opened with a trump card, in which case some kind of hierarchy will need to develop (eventually).

(Of course, even with the pips, there are various ways to 'play' them, as extant rules show, with either ascending or descending worth in play)

If we assume a far looser 'rule' for the game than the later documented ones, it could be trumps may be played by any player at any stage, of course risking two things: on the one hand the over-trumping by the next player, and on the other the diminution of trumps one holds.

If such is the case, then even is we assume that the earliest decks were indeed structured as a 5 x 14 set, it would soon lead to a desire to increase the trumps (in number).

This is partly all speculation, but speculation based on two factors: firstly that no written rules for games survives from the earliest period; and secondly, that no trump cards are numbered, nor necessarily imply overall natural hierarchy (though some does develop later in decks such as the Montagna).

With the scoring argument, this may again be a far later innovation. In the game, I would expect far simpler earlier 'scoring' rules. For example, a simple count of number of cards taken at the end of the game, irrespective of content of those cards. Again, the scoring seems to suggest something quite developed, rather than early.

As allegorical representations, and as mentioned earlier, the Fool need not and perhaps even cannot maintain a specified position, unless already deemed to be of one form above another (for example, not 'fool', but beggar, and then lowest).

Part of the overall 'problem' is that, whether Visconti-type, Sola Busca, or Marseille, the group (never mind numbered sequence) seems to lack a natural exlanation as to the chosen image set (unlike the Montegna). It is this which partly sees us either throwing our hands in the air and claiming a more or less random but significant set of imagery, or alternatively seek some other apparently external model to provide an overall organising feature of the deck (such as Mark Filipas's Alphabetic Masquerade).
 

Huck

le pendu said:
Hi Huck,


I wasn't saying that the Cary-Yale Visconti was a 14 or 22 trump set. I simply said that I believe there may have been a 14 Trump set based on the Vices and Virtues, and the Cary-Yale Visconti led me to that suspicion.

I think it quite possible that Cary-Yale Visconti was a 16 trump set as I've stated elsewhere, I suspect it was been made by combining the Virtures, the Triumphs, and the Emperors.

I don't understand. Which Emperors? Which Triumphs?

Huck said:
There is no evidence for any 22-concept in connection to the known trionfi decks and documents before 1468 and the deck is definitely painted by 2 different painters.
Huck said:
So? We've got unrelated decks with different structures, including the Cary-Yale which certainly doesn't fit the "traditional" structure with its Virtues and additional courts. Can we prove that the 22 came before or after? Not as far as I am concerned. I think it is entirely possible that the 22 existed first and there was later experimentation, or that there was experimentation and then the 22. We do not know. We do not know who invented the 22 "traditional" trumps, or when, or where.

Certainly we cannot exclude, that Julius Caesar had a full developed
Tarocchi with 22 trumps and with Justice and Strength exchanged as in the modern decks. But we haven't any evidence, that Julius Caesar had it, not a single card and not a single written document. So by many ideas about the game conditions (missing paper for instance) we exclude this possibility with good reason. But we cannot exclude it completely, although it is nonsense. In the case of the existence of the "earlier 22" the case is similar, though of course less trivial, as now a time is considered, which is much nearer to the date, from which we know, that decks with this structure existed.

But all considerations about it end with "there is no evidence".

Playing card history once established the idea and seemed rather convinced, that the Tarot was standardizised around 1450, cause everybody thought, that the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo Tarocchi was the fundamental sign of this state. Kaplan reported about the second artist in a short passage somewhere on the pages, who aren't read very much in his book ... he considered this likely as a rather unimportant detail.

Now we've established with much work some insight, that there is some miscalculation about this assumed security, so it ends with ".. there was no evidence, but just a theory". And this theory turns more and more to the state of being unlikely.


You suggest that the Visconti-Sforza proves that a 5X14 structure existed. I don't believe this. I think it is just as likely that cards were lost and replaced. Was it a 22? I don't know, but I doubt it was a 14.

Somewhere this day I've told about the ca. 4 000 000 million possible states of a deck with once 22 cards. Actually I haven't anything to add in this question.

Trionfi.com has devoted an entire website to proving that 5X14 decks existed,

It's proven for the deck of Master PW, it's made likely by the existence of other decks with similar 5th suit, it's made almost probable with a 70-cards-note from Ferrara, it's made apparent with as long fight against the blind assumption, that Trionfi cards naturally had 22 special cards.

What else do you wish for a "proven" ... :) we naturally agree, that's impossible to prove the non-existence of anything, cause anybody could tell, that McKilroy is just not at home. And Julius Caesar had trionfi-cards, too.

http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/masterPW/index.html

for instance:
http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/liechtenstein/index.html
http://trionfi.com/0/j/d/mpc/index.html
http://trionfi.com/0/c/01/index.php

http://trionfi.com/0/e2/16/

http://trionfi.com/0/e2/03/
http://trionfi.com/0/d/

and while I don't think you have proved this, I think there is enough evidence to suggest that experimentation existed, and it is quite probable that 5X14 decks existed. But that does not mean that you have proved that they were FIRST, and it does not prove that the Visconti-Sforza was one.

Proving is by logic impossible. This marsh can only dried out by "not a single evidence".

When I look at a 14 trump Visconti-Sforza, it does not have the inherent logic that the Gods deck exhibits. And no matter how many pages of dates and people are placed on Trionfi.com, I am unlikely to change my mind until there is some proof, not just conjecture.

A PROOF of non-existence is impossible. It's definitely clear, that one painter painted 5x14 cards, if we look about the fact, that 2 cards are lost in the Pierpont-Morgan-Bergamo deck. It's definitely clear from the 1457-document, that another painter painted 70 cards. It's also clear, that Sagramoro was paid for 14 figure at 1.1.1441. It's also definitely clear, that we've no evidence for a 22 in the whole matter, as far early cards before 1468 are considered (if you've other informations, I would like to hear about it).
I don't know, which of this points you would like to call "conjecture".

It is difficult to argue the point with you. I am NOT a scholar, I am an enthusiast. I don't have the debating skills of someone like Michael Hurst to counter the tons of data that Trionfi piles on people. I just have to step back, look at the evidence, and draw my own conclusion.

Well, it should be difficult to argue with me. We've worked hard for getting these points all together. We spend a lot
of time for it. Why should it be easy to tell us we overlooked something?

We don't mind, that people make their own judgment, actually we're interested that they do. The great scandal about the earlier state in Tarot research was, that some "experts", which didn't had the care to listen to outsider opinions, something we know by own experience, had made their judgment and blinded a lot of others with nothing else than only "authority" ... who had then often enough nothing better to do, then to defend the experts, all in the opinion, that an expert is an expert and should be right.
Well, we worked hard to make this process of ever returning stupidity difficult. We dont claim to be experts, occasionally we know about things and occasionally not.
And in this case we now what blunder was and what not. And the statement about he standardization around 1450 was a blunder.

At this point. I'm willing to agree there was experimentation. I'm willing to agree that there was probably 5X14 decks, as I have said repeatedly I suspect one may have existed with the Vices and Virtues.

It exists as one of the earliest "Tarots", Giotto's 14 paintings in the Arena-Chapel. So the concept existed very early and likely much earlier than Giotto.
And Niobe had 14 children, too, 7 sons and 7 girls. And in old Jewish world concepts they had 7 earths and 7 heavens. A very old structure. If somebody made something like this on playing cards, doesn't change very much ... it stays, we've no evidence. But at least we've de spaera, another 7+7 concept. And Rosselli .. hadn't he also a Virtue and Vices game in 1528?

And the I-Ching, of course, knows the structure.

But you have not convinced me that they were first, and you have not convinced me that the Visconti-Sforza is an example. The placing of the cards which brought up this question in the first place... Fool=11... is an example of why I am not convinced.

We're not very interested to convince. It's enough, when people start to think. To reach this we engage to make the documents accessible.
 

Huck

jmd said:
Huck earlier says that 'When the 5th suit was added, naturally at least some of the users would imply numbers'.

This, for the game, need not have been the case at all.
I don't understand. My argument is self-evident. When a usual form exist, and something is added in a similar form, at least some of the involved persons will expect, that the earlier state is proceeded in a similar manner. That's a normal learning and adapting process. If we wouldn't act this way, we wouldn't likely learn anything. Any child, any rat learns this way.

In this case: the 4x14 deck with connected numbers existed long enough to make at least some the users suspect, that 14 added cards also were connected to numbers - even when they had no immediate system to read this numbers. And this suspicion would provke and generate the number-model, even when it was not somehow implied by the designer in the first moment.
 

jmd

Looking at the manner in which children (and adults working with new additions to existing games) do play is precisely why I am suggesting the above.

The big difference between, on the one hand, the pips and court cards, and on the other, the atouts, is that there is a 'written on the cards' order with the former, but not with the latter.

If one looks at the Visconti, there is no reason to assume that the Lover(s), for example, 'trumps over' the Pope. In fact, one may suppose that if a value was implied, it would be the reverse, unless the depicted marriage was seen to illustrate 'love' (in which case, as the 'chief amongst [theological] virtues', it would also trump over even the Sun!).

Internal 'logic' suggests that for an early version of the game, the trumps are all equal with regards to play, with play-order determining winning hand.

Later, of course, this is not the case... but by then there is a determinate structure and ordering.