The Kings of the 4 Quarters


Daana Mindon, in an important paper, mentions that:
  • 'As they appear on the Atlas Catala, the four Moorish governors bear the signs of: rod, sword, coin, and whip. By reference to near eastern traditions which were also in operation in Muslim North Africa - these can be recognized as allusions to: Orion - rod; Ursa minor - sword; Qut b. suhail [southern celestial pole] - pressed gold; and Pleiades -cup/whip. That pattern [E, N, S, W] for the Moorish quarters, informs us, in turn, that the deputy rulers symbolize the cardinal directions. They are arranged by reference to Orion which, in the near east, was known as ‘the Central One’ (al Jawzah) and was identified as the star of old Pharaonic Egypt.'
Without commenting at this stage, I thought Daana makes valuable contributions to our historical discussion...


Time travel back to Medieval Age

Daana Mindon is the pen name of Diane O'Donovan from Australia. Here are some other articles:

In those days, one read an image in the way recommended for reading (that is, memorising verbatim) written works.
A Rational Disposition: the internalised world of the medieval scholar and a pack of paper tokens

To aid recall of written texts, monastic scholars of the ninth to fourteenth centuries developed a type of marginal image which represented the words of that accompanying text quite literally. The present article considers one such figure, composed in the 12th century but clearly related to the 'Magus'/'Bateleur' of the later 78-card packs.

Michael Scot's rebus figure of "Juppiter" as prototype for the tarot pack's Magus”/”Bateleur”


Fascinating resources, thank you. So I guess we can put our argument to rest about which suit represents which season and which cardinal direction, eh?


I find it always quite irritating to see how far away from our focus they had been in the Medieval Ages, Affektenlehre comes to my mind ...


I'm so sorry, but I'm just not quite sure what you mean, Eberhard... who is "they?" How is it that "their" focus differs from ours? What is it that reminds you of Affektenlehre? How does it relate to the Kings of the 4 Quarters?

edited later to say:
Oh ... sorry, I see that you are referring to ideas in the second Diane O'Donovan article.


I like this, Jean-Michel:
...Collections of verbal memory-prompts were called ‘florilegia’ [flower-gatherings] or miroirs or tresors. The ‘tresor,’ whose loss the Cathars lamented was more likely to have been the ‘key’ to their system of belief than money, which most disdained...

Does this help our French origin theory ? :D :D :D

I am interested that there seems to be link between maps and cards. After all, the word for map, is "carte" - same word. Hmmm...



sorry, this was misleading--bad English. What I meant was: I am always puzzled about how far the Medieval mind-set deviated from our own. Totally different associations, other symbols, other analogies, rituals, ... which makes the task of decoding the tarot images more difficult, because often it is not obvious how the pictorial elements had been interpreted at the time they were conceived.


It's too bad I missed this old thread. kwaw - thank you for reviving it.

I'm trying to absorb the "Juppiter" essay now. Diane's thesis is fascinating - and compelling.

PS - Congratulations on 1000 insightful posts!