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GALLERY INDEX
~~ Gallery 4 ~~
The Tarot and other Early Cards
· page II ·

REGIONAL TAROTS - 3
Switzerland  ·  France

part 1
Bologna
Sicily
part 2
Milan
Piedmont
part 4
Belgium

part 5
Germany & Austria
Hungary
back to the
GALLERY INDEX


other pages


page I
classic
tarots
page III
trump card
arrangements
page IV
modern &
non-standard
page V
theMulûk
wa-Nuwwâb
page VI
the Visconti
Tarots
page VII
the tarots
of Ferrara
page VIII
the tarot
of Marseille
page IX
the Tarot
de Paris
page X
Viéville's
Tarot
page XI
the
Minchiate
page XII
Mitelli's
Tarocchino
page XIII
Mantegna's
Tarot
page XIV
the
Hofjagdspiel
page XV
the
Hofämsterspiel
page XVI
the deck by
Jost Amman
page XVII
the Italy 2
Moorish deck



SWITZERLAND

NOTE
the Swiss tarots shown are J.B.Benois' Besançon Tarot (early 18th century,
reprinted by Il Meneghello, Italy), and the 1JJ Tarot (A.G.Müller, Switzerland)


The so-called Swiss tarot probably originated during the 17th century as an evolution of the styles already popular both in France and in Belgium. In particular, tarots with "Swiss" features were produced in an area ranging from eastern France (Strasbourg), western Germany (Mannheim) and northern Switzerland.


Juno
(Besançon Tarot)


Jupiter
(Besançon Tarot)
However, the credit for this pattern is often given to the city of Besançon (south-eastern France, next to the Swiss border) despite being extensively produced in this area only from the late 18th-early 19th centuries.
geographic area where the tarot of Besançon spread
the geographic area where
the tarot of Besançon spread

The Swiss tarot is especially known because the Popess and the Pope trumps were replaced with two non-standard subjects, Juno and Jupiter (in roman mythology, the latter was the king of all gods, and Juno was his wife). The change was probably due to the strong religious feeling of the populations in the above-mentioned areas; during the 16th century, John Calvin had led the Reformation against the Roman church, and the local people probably disliked playing with card subjects related to the hated Catholic establishment.

more trumps from the Besançon Tarot

court cards from the Besançon Tarot
Comparing the similar fate these cards met with Bologna's tarot (see part I), though for opposite reasons, the Pope and the Popess may be well considered the most ...politically incorrect subjects the tarot deck ever had.

Another subject in the Swiss pattern that differs from the average 18th century European tarots is the ace of Cups: most of the latter editions had the well-known gothic tabernacle, decorated with thin pointed spires, while the Besançon tarot features a stout tureen-shaped cup, with a rounded profile, reminiscent of the Baroque style, probably a result of the influence that the French and the Spanish styles had been mutually exerting over the previous three centuries (see the Cadîz pattern).

The Swiss tarot's trumps feature their names in French.

4 of Coins and ace of Cups

a few trumps from the 1JJ Tarot
When the French and German tarots began to gain popularity, the Swiss pattern became more and more restricted to a small area of Switzerland, where the traditional game of Troccas was played. By the early 20th century, this tarot could have been considered practically extinct, and the very few remaining players of Troccas began to use any tarot pattern available, especially the Marseille.

Only a few decades ago, the local manufacturer A.G.Müller brought the Swiss tarot back to life again, by basically reprinting an old deck of the 19th century; the edition, renamed "1JJ" (the double "J" stands for Jupiter and Juno), is still now widely commercialized all over the world.

samples of 1JJ Tarot suit cards

The pattern itself is very colourful and attractive, with vivid colours, although its design closely resembles the classic pattern of Marseille.
This tarot has now regretfully been abandoned by card players, and it is used only for fortune telling; the same manufacturer advertises it as a cartomancy deck.


samples of the 1JJ Tarot's courts



FRANCE

~ NOTE ~
for Italian-suited French tarots see the tarot of Marseille, the Tarot de Paris and Viéville's tarot



In France tarots were probably introduced from northern Italy (Milan's early patterns), leading to the creation of the most well known tarot pattern, the Marseille, around the late 16th-early 17th centuries.

the French Tarot, by Ducale (France)
Although this pattern is still popular today, local players found themselves more comfortable with the use of French suits (Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades): this led to the birth of the French Tarot, a deck of 78 cards which differs from classic ones by suit system and by trump subjects, but whose structure (four suits of 14 cards each, plus a set of 21 trumps and a joker card) did not really change much.


The trick-taking game for which the French tarot is used, somewhat similar the early version of the game, still today is very popular throughout France, and even has its own association of players.
As mentioned above, this tarot introduced a completely different set of trumps: all classic subjects, such as the Trivial Performer, the Chariot, the Hermit, etc. are replaced by genre scenes, featuring allegories (see following table).


detail from trump number 3,
adolescence, by Ducale (France):
girls in the city and, turned upwards,
young men in a park
The French trumps are double-headed, with two different illustrations, inspired by the same subject seen from opposite perspectives or situations (for example, urban scenes vs. country ones, male vs. female, young vs. old, indoor vs. outdoor, and so on).
Subjects are grouped by themes, such as the ages of man, the hours of the day, the four seasons, etc.

The following table shows a full list of them:

sample cards from an edition by Piatnik (Austria):
the Excuse, two trumps and three courts


1 - Individual Foolishness2 - Childhood 3 - Adolescence
4 - Mature Age 5 - Elderly Age 6 - Morning
7 - Mid-day8 - Evening 9 - Night-time
10 - Earth & Air 11 - Water & Fire 12 - Dancing
13 - Shopping 14 - Open Air 15 - Art
16 - Spring 17 - Summer 18 - Autumn
19 - Winter 20 - Games 21 - Collective Foolishness

detail from trump number 7: mid-day, in the fields and in a house
(edition by Piatnik, Austria)
It is interesting how the first and last subjects of the deck, i.e. no.1 and no.21, "Individual Foolishness" and "Collective Foolishness", respectively, are closely related by their meaning, almost suggesting that the sequence of the trump subjects, a metaphor of life (as in classic tarots), is cyclical.

Trump no.21 has a curious detail: the scene opposite to a fancy costume ball features a jester among a group of soldiers (see picture): this might represent a satire against military activities, which the tarot places among man's foolish behaviours.
trump number 21, collective foolishness (edition by Dal Negro, Italy)

the flourish, editions by Ducale (France),
Piatnik (Austria) and Dal Negro (Italy)
The trumps have large western numerals in the corners (all other regional tarots retained the roman numerals), at both ends of an elaborate black and white flourish, whose design changes from edition to edition.

the Excuse, by Ducale (France)
and Dal Negro (Italy)

The subject that in the French tarot matches the classic Fool card is named l'Excuse ("the excuse"), but sometimes also la Mandoline ("the mandoline") or even le Fou ("the fool"); it always features a jester playing a lute, in a completely different style from any other trump. L'Excuse is therefore considered a modern joker rather than a classic trump.

samples of the Tarot's court cards, by Ducale (France)


The colourful courts are less stylized than in the French national pattern (see the French gallery), they are split horizontally and they never feature the personage's name, but the indices are the same ones: V (knave), C (cavalier), D (queen), R (king); the aces too feature the numerical value 1, as in the traditional deck used for playing Belote.
In the pip cards from 4 to 9 and in all the courts, the suit signs are partially "clipped" on their outer side by the indices, which overlap them.

sample subjects by Ducale (France):
note the "clipped" pips in the corners

part 1
Bologna
Sicily
part 2
Milan
Piedmont
part 4
Belgium

part 5
Germany & Austria
Hungary


further reference to tarot decks can be found in Trionfi and in The Hermitage



page I
classic
tarots
page III
trump card
arrangements
page IV
modern &
non-standard
page V
theMulûk
wa-Nuwwâb
page VI
the Visconti
Tarots
page VII
the tarots
of Ferrara
page VIII
the tarot
of Marseille
page IX
the Tarot
de Paris
page X
Viéville's
Tarot
page XI
the
Minchiate
page XII
Mitelli's
Tarocchino
page XIII
Mantegna's
Tarot
page XIV
the
Hofjagdspiel
page XV
the
Hofämsterspiel
page XVI
the deck by
Jost Amman
page XVII
the Italy 2
Moorish deck



OTHER GALLERIES

non-standard patterns advertisement decks sizes, shapes and colours standard pattern variants non-suited cards Mercante in Fiera Uta Karuta, Iroha Karuta, Dôsai Karuta Âs nas
regional patterns: Italy regional patterns: Spain regional patterns: Germany regional patterns: Austria regional patterns: Switzerland regional patterns: France regional patterns: Sweden regional patterns: Portugal regional patterns: China regional patterns: South-Eastern Asia regional patterns: Japan regional patterns: India uncut sheets mottos and proverbs

or back to
Introduction
INTRODUCTION
AND HISTORY

Multi-language Glossary
MULTI-LANGUAGE
GLOSSARY
the Fool and the Joker
THE FOOL &
THE JOKER
Index Table
INDEX
TABLE
Regional Games
REGIONAL
GAMES
Playing Card Links
PLAYING CARD
LINKS