The Four Horseman or 4 Caballeros...


Do you have a historical deck with four mounted knights?

How do your knights look? If you have more than one historical deck--do the knights look exactly or nearly the same from suit to suit or deck to deck?


A.The Latin or Spanish suited Swords:

1. Does your Knight of Swords carry the sword upright in his right hand, , twisting to look to away, his horse slightly rearing or balanced with arched head and the horse's head looking opposite of the knight?

2. The Knight of sword has a plume on his helmet, the horse has a blanket underneath the armed knight

a. Di Gumppenberg 1806-1811

b. Unsun Karuta 1982 reproduction of 50 year old (circa 1932 or earlier) playing card deck in Japan (from Portugese Hombre decks); Unsun Karuta circa 19th century also

...other sample
3. Does your Knight of Cups look at you and hold the cup, or is the cup suspended in the air and are you looking in the rear, side or front view of the horse?

Sorry if this is unclear--what I am doing is finding ways of describing the details of the Four Knights in different historical decks. My comparison of decks at the moment is "Latin-Suited" for my own limits...but I am interested if others have compared details of their decks knights--where the horse is facing, where the suit motif is in the picture, any details that might be the same--such as horse rearing or mouth open or mane/tail flying, suit sign such as sword being a part of the knight's pose or is it sheathed, is the knight facing you, looking to the right or left...

I'm going to add to this later...but in the meantime, if you compare your historical decks, I'd be interested in if you find agreement or not...I am going to be pulling out 'other' Latin-suited deck to compare the knights to start.


Hello Cerulean,

Are you specifically wanting to know about Spanish and Latin/Italian decks?

I only recently looked at the Lombardy - Gumppemberg 1810, and noticed that three of the four knights have their backs to the viewer, which is something I haven't seen before.

I'm not sure if you are wanting those three specific questions answered about any historical deck we have, or just the Spanish and Italian. Or whether this is a personal comparison for each of us to undertake for our own interest and with any historical deck, and to post here. Great idea though I look forward to the next post.


A little hard to define, but here's a stab:

For me, this is a learning/thinking example of some elements that I know, but pulling them all together. So far, I may have researched the small examples of a certain deck separately as a reflection of the culture and the times through art, poetry, literature, the attitudes of the time. But it's not until summer 2007 I've been able to look at or try to link something as a far-reaching 'pattern'.

The Latin-suited decks, which may include

1) Sicilian, Bolognese, Ottracentro variations of tarocchino/tarocco/etc from Italian regions (Andrea Vitali's Tarot of Bologna commentary)

2) Spanish and Portugese decks that migrated to Japan (Wayland's commentary of Dragons of Portugal)

3) Di Gumppenberg 1806-1811 (according to Kaplan's examples, I believe in Tarot Encyclopedia II)

4) Perhaps other French patterns

I was thinking of looking at similarities of certain games from the context of a pattern throughout time (Latin-suited) and delving further into these examples as variations on the Latin suit--that also reflect their times.

For instance, the di Gumppenberg 1806-1811, also known as the Neoclassical:

As a reflection of it's time:
The di Gumppenberg's Napoleonic costume and Neoclassical art tributes--which I've discussed before or commented upon before in past threads--it actually has other things in common with the Napoleonic times...if historic Sicilian card games with Latin roots do have similar rules, costume, visual attributes as the di Gumppenberg 1810, there is a pattern of the visual art of game that is linked to the "Latin-suited" Di Gumppenberg 1810.

The rearing horse of Napoleon's famous portrait, his 'triumphal' procession, his
eagerness as a young man to crown himself before a Pope finished his prayers, also crowning his new son (from the Austrian ruler's daughter) as a ruler of the Italian states before his fall...anyway, I've talked about much of this in other threads.

How does that reflect in the Four Horsemen?

In the Latin suits, does the Knight of Swords always have a rearing horse or galloping horse? When a historian/artist such as Luigi Scalpini depicts a rearing horse in his Knight of Swords in a modern tarot such as the Stained-Glass Tarot--am I seeing an outgrowth of a Latin-suited pattern?

The reason I am looking at the four knights on mounted horses is in the few card examples that I mentioned---I know in those cultures of those times that I know that horsemen and horses were valued, if only in mythical parade depictions and art and literature. It's easier for me to compare examples of the knights across card examples that I know historically in the Latin-suited decks right now...

I apologize if it seems unclear to see what I am doing. But I am interested in how people have:

* compared the horses and knights of their historical decks
* researched any of the country or regional art or culture of that time to find visual examples
* how their examples mimic or parallel the pattern of the decks they are interested in.

If you've not done any of this so far, by all means go ahead and post examples for your own study...I'm gathering mine still to post.

Because so many people have worked on their French-patterned decks, I thought for certain, they've come up with better ways than my haphazard notes...but I'm posting resources and links and visual examples when I pull from the various threads I've contributed to...

My example of the Di Gumppenberg pattern might be a depiction of Napoleon on a rearing horse with a drawn sword (I believe I am remembering one example correctly).

My example in the Latin-suited Unsun Karuta is I've come across a slide presentation and small segments of art screens have the four cabelleros -- four knights--and to see them like the knights of a card game that came from Portugal is rather thrilling. I have not dated the screen or source yet, so I am not posting it until I can--but it was soon after Portugese traders appeared in one of the port cities of Japan.

I hope some of these ramblings made sense.




Moonbow* said:
I only recently looked at the Lombardy - Gumppemberg 1810, and noticed that three of the four knights have their backs to the viewer, which is something I haven't seen before.

This makes me think of the peculiar Knight of Cups in the Mitelli Tarocchino Deck (Bologna, 1660-1665).