Tarocchi Fine dalla Torre
The Museo dei Tarocchi near Bologna, Italy has given us many highly creative art decks. Now they have produced an historically significant bolognese tarocchi based on an original that rests in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
Bologna has its own unique tarot tradition that dates back to the early sixteenth century, and possibly earlier. The order of the trumps is slightly different, and pips two through five of each suit have been removed to make a shortened deck that was very popular for card games back then. Some trump cards have distinct imagery: the Fool as a street musician playing a drum and horn, the Three Magi on the Star card, and a woman with a spindle for the Sun are just a few examples. The Aces are very distinctive as well. In the early 18th century the deck took its present form when the Empress, Emperor, Papesse and Pope were changed into the four Moors and the trump and court cards became double-headed.
Fine dalla Torre is a transition deck from the 16th century. It’s a shortened deck, but not yet double-headed. Trumps two through five are the same as the standard Tarot de Marseille, but there’s something odd about the Pope and Popesse. The Pope has a feminine face and holds a book, while the Popesse holds large keys and raises her hand in a blessing.
Bolognese imagery has remained constant through the centuries and persists on small, double-headed decks used for game playing today. Here are two Star cards: the Fine dalla Torre and a modern playing card.
Artists at the Museo touched up the cards to make the images clearer, and did a remarkable job in keeping the look and feel of the original cards. Two missing queens and several swords cards were re-created using other tarocchino decks as examples. The Museo re-created the lower-numbered pip cards that were never part of the deck in case you want to pretend it’s a Tarot de Marseille. A previous owner evidently did just that, as the deck in the Bibliothèque Nationale has the Tarot de Marseille trump numbers written near the top of each card in small Arabic numbers.
The unique backs are in landscape orientation show two cherubs, one of them shooting at a heart that’s hanging from a tree like fruit.
The cards are 2.7 by 5.9 inches, somewhat smaller than the originals, but retaining the original tall, thin proportions. They are housed in a wooden box with a sliding lid decorated with the World card and a wax seal on the lid. The cards are accompanied by a signed and numbered sheet of paper that describes the deck and the methods used to touch up the images.
The Museo is also offering a deluxe edition: the same sized cards in a fancier box accompanied by ten postcards and a large print. Only thirty of these are being made.
The Tarocchi Fine dalla Torre in Bologna can be purchased directly from the Museo Internazionale dei Tarocchi at their Mutus Liber bookstore.
North Americans can save some shipping costs by ordering through Arnell Ando on this page.
Read more about Bolognese tarot on this page at TarotWheel.net
See the original cards in the Bibliothèque Nationale at this link.