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Review – The Renaissance Origins of Tarot

The Renaissance Origins Of Tarot

Author: Giovanni Pelosini
English Translation: Arnell Ando
Interwideo
2016
ISBN #987-88996910-2-8

The Renaissance Origins of Tarot cover

“The Renaissance Origins Of Tarot” is a well written, 78 page book on the origins of the Tarot. In his introduction, Pelosini differentiates between playing cards (with their origins in Asia), and Tarot cards, which he defines as being an Italian innovation from the Middle Ages. Pelosini sees the Tarot as a Renaissance codification of cultural models of various origins, and as being an adaptation on an eastern matrix card game, which arrived in Europe most likely through Arabic contacts.

This was also a period when card making technology was becoming more advanced, especially in the areas of Fabriano (1276) and Bologna. The Minor Arcana were developed from early playing cards, which resulted in the suits of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. (It is interesting to note that the French suits were developed from the Italian suits.) The Major Arcana were developed from the original Triumphi.

Pelosini covers the people and texts that were in evidence in these early days, such as Court de Gebelin ( Mondi Primitif), with his belief that the Tarot had been brought to Europe by nomadic Gypsies, Eliphas Levi (Alphonse-Louis Constant), and Papus. Pelosini talks about the oral tradition of Tarot, about initiatory traditions, spreading these traditions through the use of Tarot as a card game. The game could be seen as a game, but to s select few it would also carry symbolic meanings and sacred teachings.

The background of the Trumps (Triumphs) is discussed, as reflecting the moral virtues and classical mythology of the parades/processions of the middle ages, including the Triumphs of Petrarch. The cards were played by royalty in the courts as a game, and in the taverns as a gambling device.

Another part of the cultural background of the Tarot that Pelosini discusses is Greek- Alexandria Hermeticism and Gnosticism. Included in this discussion is the Corpus Hermeticum (by Hermes Trismegistus).

The philosophy and theories of this time, and the individuals who espoused them, are well presented in this book. Solid research has been done, and footnoted abound, allowing the reader to follow the trail to wherever it might lead them.

Throughout this work we see color photos of Tarot cards, of the individuals being discussed, and the material being discussed. We are literally taking a step back in time, so that while we read the text we are simultaneously presented with a color visual of what was and what is.

Part of this “stepping back in time” for me was reading about the game of Tarot as it was played in the Courts. The Triumphs (Trumps) were used to make statements in quite an interesting manner!

This is a book that can be considered a resource – much more than something that we read once, then set aside. It is well written, well documented, and filled with bright visual imagery. It is an education, and well worth the reading.

© February 2016 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without the written permission of the author.

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Posted by on February 18, 2016 in Tarot

 

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Review – Tarocchi Appropriati

Tarocchi Appropriati

International Collaborative Project
Limited Edition
Museo Dei Tarocchi
2015

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The “Tarocchi Appropriati” is a 22 card, majors only deck and 96 page companion book that is a collaborative project under the auspices of the Museo Dei Tarocchi, hosted by Morena Poltronieri, in collaboration with Ernesto Fazioli, and overseen by Tarot historian Giovanni Pelosini. This is a Limited, Special Edition of 100 sets. The cards and companion book are packaged in a special, ribbed, corrugated box with the cover art on the lid (which carries the Museo’s Hot Wax Seal).

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Note: There are two additional cards – a title card, and a card listing the artists. The booklet is available in English, translated by artist Arnell Ando (Transformational Tarot). Cover art is by Jessica Angiulli.

This deck is an homage from the hosts of Tarocchi Appropriati (Morena Polronieri and Ernesto Fazioli) to a time in Tarot history when nobility enjoyed playing parlor games with the cards. I loved the background given in the accompanying book – how the presence of the Tarot in Bologna was later than it was elsewhere, and that it was not always performed in verse. Each trump of “Tarocchini Appropriate” was inspired for a different lady, and was presented in two distinct parts – the first being the correspondences between the trump cards and the ladies, the second, in prose, provided an explanation of the proposed correspondence (which was at times rather wicked or cheeky).

The artists and their corresponding cards are listed at the beginning of the companion book, with artist bios at the back of the book.  They represent an international artistic talent:

Giovani Monti – The Fool
Lucio Mondini – The Magician
Caterina Forest – The High Priestess
Martino Barbieri – The Empress
Octavio Monaco – The Emperor
Alain Giannotti – The Pope
Eric Lerner – The Lovers
Claire Santi – The Chariot
Paride Cevolani – Justice
Jari Casagrande – The Hermit
Mariarita Frazzoni – The Wheel of Fortune
Tiziana Bertacci – Strength
Antonello Mantovani – The Hangman
Ornella Lamberti – Death
Giovanni Pelosini – Temperance
Rebecca Mietzelfield – The Devil
Francesca Ricci – The Tower
Payal Anil Padmanabhan – The Star
Rita Minelli – The Moon
Adolfina De Stefani – The Sun
Patricia Brown – Judgement
Franco Coletti – The World

The cards are presented with a small black and white scan, the artists interpretation of the card, and a poem from poet Jari Casagrande (who also was the artist for The Hermit). Tarot historian Giovanni Pelosini contributed the card Temperance. I love this way of looking at the Tarot – and hope that you do also!

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The cards are 2.75” by 5”, on matte cardstock (my favorite cardstock!). The card backs are done in a muted brown and gold, and are not reversible. The card faces are borderless, and include the card number and title.

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Ruota di Fortuna: “Continuous movement of life, I find you constantly, even if hidden among crickets and owls who rejoice. I know where to look, when the dark corners of memory require your eyes. You know where to find me, whenever I whisper of the love that brought us together …
Friends of the heart
Sisters forever”

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The Death: “Arcana XIII is obtained from the masque “headgear carved wooden with a clan c.1875”(Size: 100 X 100 cm – mixed media: Acrylic on canvas). It is a shamanic headdress topped with a totem animal. To protect people in the journey between life and death. To enter into another world, where chaos reigns supreme. Where good is in constant struggle with the evil dark forces of nature. It is the realm of the night, the womb, with felines looking hungry at coops with feathers that camouflage the head …Feast on a solemn transformation. A royal banquet.Death and then unmentionable passing – until it reaches the extreme point where fingers are touching, in a magical exchange that sets off sparks of new life. Roar. Rattle. Dance.It is a shamanic headdress topped by a totem animal, an object to overcome the illusion of life, believing in death, attempting a new journey. Vision quest.
Life does not die.”

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The Lovers: “My musical inspiration for composing the Amanti card was the punk music of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Ultimately it was the determining factor in employing digital media. When presented with the project, I pulled cards for both my friend Alain Giannotti and myself to let Tarot itself determine what we would do. He got Papa and I Amani. Initially I aspired to use a piece of classical music for inspiration. But the more studies I did, the more impossible I found it to decide to just one musical composition. For me, the meaning of the Lover’s card is distilled as conflict. In Marseilles inspired Tarots the lover is trying to choose between two very different women while he feels hapless victim to an arrow of fate about to crash through his consciousness in making his choice. Classical music excels in expressing pure emotional states or mimicking natural phenomena. A single composition that gave voice to Amanti would have to implode. Increasingly I realized many punk songs did an excellent job of such turmoil. Having been a performer on that musical scene myself I remembered how we put together cover art for our 45’s, gig posters, and cassette inserts. We used crude collage. If we had a lot of finesse maybe we used glue sticks, manicuring scissors and ball point pen to attack our material. More likely we used clear scotch tape, blunter craft scissors, and a photocopier. Digital composition is gthe closet thing to an equivalent today.”      

I am very honored to be reviewing this deck. I want to personally thank Arnell Ando for doing the translation into English that allowed me to share in the wisdom that it presents. The work that the Museo de Tarocchi hosts is incomparable. This deck in particular is one that will appeal to Tarot artists, historians, and collectors.

© 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2015 in Tarot

 

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