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The Jean Dodali Tarot Recreated by Sullivan Hismans

The Dodal/Dodali Tarot, one of the earliest and most historically important Tarot de Marseille (TdM) decks, has been beautifully recreated by Sullivan Hismans at Tarot Sheet Revival, after two years of painstaking craftsmanship. Hismans, who gave us recreations of the Budapest and Rosenwald sheets, is a visual artist fascinated by the physical reality of tarot cards and the craft of card making. His process is the same with all his decks – he examines different versions of the cards available in museum databases, takes the elements apart, then alchemically recombines them to create a transformed, but historically accurate deck.

After giving us recreations of two Italian decks from @1500, Hismans jumped ahead 200 years to 1710 Lyon and recreated what he believes is the perfect TdM, featuring fluid wood carved lines and vibrant facial expressions.

Working Method

Unlike the models for his two Italian decks, the original Dodal decks in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and the British Museum are complete and in good condition, so he didn’t have to recreate any lines or entire cards. As a testament to his attention to detail, he left the cracks and breaks in the lines caused by the condition of the original wood blocks.

Hismans recreated the original stencil sheets, colored each card on blank paper, then digitally added the colors to the line drawings. This is what makes the deck extraordinary. The colors have the look of the original stenciling, rather than being clean, bright and neatly inside the lines; which for me, detracts from the historic authenticity.

The deck

Knight of Coins and Two of Coins from Dodali TarotJean Dodal was a card maker working in Lyon in the very early 1700s. On this deck he changed his name to Dodali on the Two of Coins but kept Dodal on the Two of Cups. Dodal Italianized his name because the deck was made for export to Italy. Hismans chose to go with Dodali as the official name for his deck. F P Le Trenge on the four Knights, the Page of Batons, Force and World stands for “Fait Pour L’Étranger” (made for export).

Three cards: Ace of Swords, Ace of Batons and Page of Batons, have slight differences in color and line between the two museums examples; so Hismans created two versions and included both in his deck. The Page of Batons has a different face, but I can’t really see much difference between the Aces.

Dodali 4 cardsThis deck has many quirks that I find charming:

  • Deniers is spelled differently on each of the court cards in that suit.
  • The even-numbered batons pips are not reversible – the flowers at either end are different.
  • The Queen of Batons is the grumpiest I’ve ever seen.
  • The Page of Batons has no label.
  • The Chariot is called Charior.
  • The Seven of Coins is off-balance.
  • The two people falling from the Tower are obviously an old and a young person.
  • If you look at the Hanged Man card in his usual upside-down orientation, the Roman numeral is backwards. Hismans believes he’s meant to be head up as in the Vieville and Vandenborre decks (see the top image). But that means someone in the print shop got really confused and put the title upside down.



Dodali LoversWhy is Dodal Important?

The Dodal/Dodali is one of very few TdM decks with all Type I details. TdM Type II is the standard French TdM first printed by Madenié, Chosson and Conver in the 18th century. Grimaud, Lo Scarabeo, Fournier other major European card publishers currently print their own versions. Most modern reproductions, like those of Pablo Robledo, Yoav Ben Dov and Jodorowsky/Camoin are TdM Type II.

The TdM Type I is identical to the Type II but with ten minor differences, like the blindfolded Cupid shown here. Go to this page to see Type I and Type II cards side-by-side.  Historians used to think the TdM I was an earlier version that the TdM II evolved from. Recently we’ve discovered that the Madenié deck of 1709 is earlier than the two oldest complete TdM I decks we know of, the 1710 Dodal and the 1713 Payen. Other early decks with some TdM I features are by Jean Noblet of Paris in 1659 and Rolichon from mid-1600s Lyon. It seems the two types are parallel traditions. TdM I imagery was used from the 17th to 19th centuries in decks from many regions. Go to this article for an in-depth discussion of TdM I decks

Two versions of the deck available from Hismans

Dodali envelopeThe printed deck: This deck is a bit over 2.5 x 4.75 inches, printed on sturdy card stock that is very pleasant to handle and shuffle. It feels very similar to Yves Reynaud’s decks – which is a big compliment.

Back in the day, playing cards were packaged in envelopes printed with the card maker’s name, address and logo. Hismans learned wood block carving so he could create his own envelopes. These are unique works of art with their own special magic.

The deck comes with a title card that is initialed and numbered. This is a print run of only 400 so it’s sure to sell out quickly.

A completely handmade deck: Hismans will custom create a completely handcrafted, hand painted deck for you. The cards are laminated by hand using an ancient wheat glue recipe; then the cards are cut by hand. You have a choice of two color styles: The subtle look of the old woodcut, or more intense color and lines for seeing the details more easily. The hand crafted deck is housed in a handmade box with an original unicorn design. This is almost as good as time-travelling back to purchase a deck straight from the Dodal workshop.


Tarot Sheet Revival: Sullivan Hisman’s website where you can see more photos of his decks, learn about his artisanal working methods, and purchase decks.

See TdM I and TdM II cards side-by-side

Read an in-depth discussion of the TdM I


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