The Marseilles birth and influences


Here is a picture of Court de Gébelin. It's always nice to put faces to names.


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TemperanceAngel said:
and it still begs the question where DID the Tarot originate?

I hope you all realise this was a rhetorical question??

I never realised how the questions I asked would really take my Tarot studies into such a new world, I find it all very exciting indeed.

Thanks everyone for their knowledge and links and books, I will now take it all into the next stage of my own research and, of course, buying THAT deck.

Anymore book recommendations are more than welcome!



I wanted to pick up some points earlier made, but have been somewhat under the weather... and didn't know if it would come out in the way intended.

Lee mentions that there were a number of decks which appeared until the Jean Noblet.

Though I agree that there are a number of decks which bear structural or iconographic similarity to the Marseille, whether this takes the form of a slowly progressive evolution or not is a conclusion which many have made from the extant evidence. It is possible, however, though historically unlikely, that some of the variations are deviations which individuals saw fit to instigate - in the same way as we have seen over the past thirty years especially.

It is possible - but evidence would need to be unveiled for its plausibility - that an early Marseille pattern was around earlier than the diversity which is presented in the Encyclopedias and which, to my mind, should not properly deserve to be called 'Marseille' (even if the term has only emerged later, it refers to a type of woodcut with specific peculiarities).

The Marseille, as any other deck, was, in its first instance, designed by an individual or group of individuals - whether we ever get to know his, her or their names is immaterial. What they sought to convey, again, we may only divine... it may even be that the individual(s) concerned were not even fully aware as to what it was they were giving birth to.

With regards to Kabalistic connections, I would have concurred with Lee even two years ago that there was no 'hard' evidence to suggest any connection between the Major Arcana and the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. With the work of Mark Filipas's Alphabetic Masquerade, I now sense otherwise - even if it has not yet been either broadly properly considered. In fact, his work has caused me to at least revise the way in which I position the Fool: from second last or final, to now definitely as final. There are other iconographic reasons I would also place him as final, but the Kabalistic, or rather, the Hebrew letter connection to the Cards have certainly firmed its location...

...and so I make this post for further comments, realising it leaves room for much disagreement :)


Thankyou Alain...

I have gone over to the archives last night to briefly look through the posts related to the Cary sheet.

(I personally have difficulties with mail lists: given the number of work related and general Tarot e.mails I already receive and have to deal with, it would become an unsurmountable task to also receive those, even as 'digests').

As mentioned there and as previously also mentioned, the dating of the Cary sheet is a little indefinite.

It is also evident that one's personal views will affect interpretation of the artifact - whether well versed or coming with fresh eyes. This, whether one views that this sheet reflects and maybe alters earlier models - such as the possibility that earlier French models may have followed the Mamluk's curved swords - or whether one views that the earliest decks 'must' come from northern Italy - which seems to be the position adopted (from, admitedly, careful analysis of certain artefacts) by Dummett.

Further discussion of the Cary sheet is of course very interesting. Its close iconographic relationship to the Marseille makes it also very important in considering the Marseille pattern.

Thanks for the wonderful resource which so many continue to contribute to :)


Data from thierry Depaulis

About the Cary Sheet and the TdM.

Data provided via Thierry Depaulisand reproduced here for non commercial resaerch and education purpose.
thierry Depaulis
Tarot, jeu et magie

M. Dummett argues that the Milanese order of the Trumps is at the
origin of the TdM.
Order C : "L'ordre C serait originaire de Milan et le "Tarot" de
Marseille doit remonter à un ancêtre milanais" (T. Depaulis, "Le
problème de l'ordre des atours" / Tarot, jeu et magie, BN)

Copy of the text given by Thierry Depaulis on the Cary Sheet
reproduced from "Tarot, jeu et magie" pp53-54"

"Feuille Cary
Milan, Italie, fin du XV ou déébut du XVI ème sicles.
20 catres enseignes italiennes

La planche ...[reproduite]...[a pour] intérêt majeur ... sa
ressemblance de certaines cartes avec celles du TdM.
Le Pendu(?), la Roue de Fortune, le Chariot, l'Amoureux, ?
La Force, le Pape, l'Empereur, l'Impératrice, la Papesse(?)
le Soleil, la Lune, l'Etoile, le Bateleur, le Fou (?)
la Maison-Dieu, le Diable, la Tempérance, 7 de Bâtons, 8 ou 9 de

Non seulement les deux cartes de points visibles correspondent de
façon évidente à celles du TdM, mais de nombreux atouts offrent une
ressemblance certaine : on retrouve en effet les allégories
caractéristiques de l'Etoile (une femme à la rivière) et de la Lune
(l'étang avec l'écrevisse) ainsi que les petits personnages du
Ce que l'on voit de la Roue de Fortune et du Chariot (bas des cartes)
est en tous points semblable à leurs pendants dans le Tarot de
Sans être identiques, l'Empereur et l'Impératrice ne sont pas
éloignés du modèle "marseillais".
La Force est aussi montrée terrassant un lion.

ON NE SAIT D'OU PROVIENT CETTE FEUILLE., mais Dummett démontre de
façon convaincante que l'ordre des atouts étant lié à Milan, cette
planche , dont le style est proche, a toutes les chancesd'y avoir été
Les cartes, hélas très abîmées, trouvées au Castello Sforzesco de
Milan permettent de confirmer cette hypothèse"

Dummett, 76 (n°24), 407-405 + pl. 14


Re: Data from thierry Depaulis

Here is my but rapid translation of Alain's (Namadev's) post:

About the Cary Sheet and the TdM.

Data provided via Thierry Depaulis and reproduced here for non commercial research and educational purposes.

Thierry Depaulis
Tarot, jeu et magie

M. Dummett argues that the Milanese order of the Trumps is at the origin of the TdM. Order C : 'The order would originate from Milan and the 'Tarot' of Marseille must descend from a Milanese ancestor' (T. Depaulis, "Le problème de l'ordre des atouts" Tarot, jeu et magie, BN)

Copy of the text given by Thierry Depaulis on the Cary Sheet
reproduced from Tarot, jeu et magie pp53-54
  • Cary Sheet
    Milan, Italy, end of XVth or beginning of XVIth centuries.
    20 cards with Italian emblems/patterns

    The [reproduced] sheet [...] has as its major point of interest [...] its resemblance to certain cards of the TdM [Tarot de Marseille].


    The Hanged Man (?), the Wheel of Fortune, the Chariot, the Lovers, ? Strength, the Pope, the Emperor, the Empress, the Papesse (?), the Sun, the Moon, the Star, the Bateleur [Magician], the Fool (?), the Tower, the Devil, Temperance, 7 of Batons, 8 or 9 of Batons.

    Not only do the two pips correspond in an obvious way to those of the Marseille, but numerous Major Arcana present an obvious/sure ['certaine'] ressemblance: we find agan the characteristic allegories of the Star (a woman by a river) and the Moon (a pond [or marsh] with crustacean), as well as the small figures of the Sun.

    What we see of the Wheel of Fortune and of the Chariot (bottom of the cards) is in all ways similar to their equivalent in the Tarot of Marseille.

    Without being identical, the Emperor and the Empress are not far from the 'Marseille' model. Strength is also shown pulling (? 'terrassant') a lion.

    We do not know from whence originates this sheet, but Dummet shows convincingly that the Major Arcana's order being linked to Milan, the sheet, whose style is close [similar], has all the likelihood of having there being printed.

    The cards, regrettably very damaged, found at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan enables confirmation of this hypothesis.
Dummett, 76 (n°24), 407-405 + pl. 14


Thanks for that...

In addition, there is also an image earlier posted here on Aeclectic by catboxer in the thread The Cary Sheet - which I am unsure how to better link to this thread given the turn we are taking, and, of course, the inclusion of that sheet on Flornoy's site at (the sheet is further down on the page).

I personally intend to add some comments too, but want to take some time to reflect on various other aspects first...

It is a fascinating area, not just as history, but as image, as printing method, and as pattern or order...