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GALLERY INDEX
~~ Gallery 5 ~~
The Tarot and other Early Cards
· page XI ·

THE MINCHIATE

part 2


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GALLERY INDEX
go to part 1



other pages

page I
classic
tarots
page II
regional
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 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


a special credit to Thierry Depaulis for having revised the historical aspects of this text


THE SUIT CARDS


E (left) and L - 10 of Coins
The trumps are not the only peculiarity of the Minchiate: the remaining 56 subjects too feature some interesting details.
Each suit has the usual ten pip cards (from ace through 10) and four courts. In both editions all the pips in the suit of Coins, except the ace, are decorated with human heads; this rather distinctive detail is also present in the famous Tarocchino drawn by Mitelli, suggesting that this decorative scheme might have been shared by some luxury editions of Bologna's tarot.
In the Minchiate al Leone deck, the background of the Coins cards from 2 to 10 is decorated with a naive texture made of brownish dots; the same dots are also found along the blades of the Swords pips, and used in several other subjects throughout the deck.

The Swords are arranged in patterns that recall the ones found in other early tarots (as will be said in the next paragraph), crossing each other diagonally, and forming a great number of intersections. Their blade is straight, except in the knave and cavalier cards, where they look like scimitars.
Batons too follow a similar scheme, but with very few additional decorations (only the 2 features figurines that fill the blank spaces).
The aces are not very different from the ones belonging to other tarots. In particular, the aces of Swords and Batons are held up straight by a hand, together with a crown and a ribbon. In the Minchiate Etruria deck also the aces of Coins and Cups are topped by a crown, but this does not happen in other editions.
E - 8 of Batons, and L - 3 of Swords


E (left) and L - ace of Coins and ace of Batons


E (left) and L - female knave (maid) of Cups
The most interesting subjects in each suit are the courts, in particular the knaves and the cavaliers. The knaves of the short suits (Coins and Cups) are female, while the long-suited ones (Swords and Batons) are male. Female knaves are not an exclusive feature of the Minchiate, as they are found also in the Sicilian tarot, in today's Mexican pattern (likely due to an early presence in Spanish cards), and even in the late medieval Cary-Yale Visconti tarot, which has a double set of knaves, both male and female. However, this is the only pattern in which two of the knaves are female and two are male, sharing the same rank.

All four cavaliers, instead, are hybrid creatures, half man and half animal. Also this is an exclusive feature of the Minchiate pattern.

E - cavaliers of Batons and of Cups

L - cavaliers of Coins and Swords




L - 10 of Swords
RELATIONS WITH OTHER PATTERNS
The Minchiate cards show several connections with other patterns, but the ones more evidently related are Bologna's tarot and the Sicilian tarot.
Disregarding the many extra subjects, the classic trumps follow almost exactly the ordering of the Tarocchino; in fact, the latter is considered the main pattern from which the Minchiate may have sprung by adding the four Elements, the zodiac signs, etc. Some details are also in common with Ferrara's tarot, but the geographic vicinity of Bologna, thus the greater affinity of the group B pattern (i.e. from Ferrara and Venice) with the Tarocchino rather than with the Lombard (or Marseille) group, give enough reason for a common influence upon the Minchiate's subjects.

The main elements of similarity with the Tarocco Siciliano, instead, are the suit cards. In particular, the pips of the long suits seem to match both in shape and in arrangement. And the female knaves, or "maids", are another very important element shared by these tarots; although in the Minchiate two knaves belong to the opposite gender, the remaining two are still a detail too unique to be overlooked. Even a linguistic bond seems to confirm this relation, as the term minchiate is still present in the Sicilian dialect, with the aforesaid meaning of "nonsense, stupidities".
Sicilian tarot: interlacing Batons and Swords,
and female knave of Cups

Cary-Yale Visconti tarot: 7 of Swords and maid of Coins
Features similar to the aforesaid ones are only found in the two Visconti tarots previously mentioned, one of which, labelled as Cary-Yale, has not only a similar pip arrangement, but also four female knaves (and four male ones too) among its courts. However, the Visconti tarots date back from an age in which playing card patterns were yet to be defined, and it would be a hazard to suggest any relation with the Minchiate, whose scheme was born no less than one century later, but maybe more, in a different part of Italy.


Very similar features, if not identical ones (long suits with straight pips that overlap diagonally, female knaves), also belonged to the old Portuguese cards.
This was a Latin-suited pattern, now extinct, whose relations with other southern European cards have not been fully investigated, though whose echoes are still found in central America (for instance, the female knaves in the quasi-Castilian pattern made in Mexico, see Spanish overseas patterns).
But the connection, either direct or mediated by the Sicilian tarot, between the Minchiate and the Portuguese cards remains difficult to prove. Since at present such relation is not accepted by some scholars, whereas all doubts have been cleared about the Sicilian-Portuguese link, the debate upon the 97-card deck is still open.


The Minchiate pattern was produced up to the early 1900s. The interest for the game had long since subsided in most areas outside Tuscany. Interestingly, the Etruria cards probably acted as a main reference model for more commercial editions produced during the 19th century: the illustrations of the extant decks, mainly made in Florence, are almost identical to the ones belonging to the Minchiate Etruria (see sample on the right).

the Fool: from the left, Minchiate al Leone,
Minchiate Etruria, and a mid 19th century edition



go to part 1


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



page I
classic
tarots
page II
regional
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 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

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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