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Characteristics of the Piedmont/Piemontese Tarot

After comparing the trumps of the following decks with the trump cards of a Conver Tarot de Marseille:

  • Tarocchi Vergnano (Giordano Berti)
  • Strambo (Il Meneghello)
  • Tarocco Piemontese (Modiano)
  • Lando Tarot in The Encyclopedia of Tarot by Stuart Kaplan, Volume I, page 150

I’ve concluded that the following are the characteristics of Piemontese/Piedmont-style tarot. No deck has all the features listed here. Most decks are a mixture of traditional Tarot de Marseilles and Piedmont styles. Many decks printed in this region have unique features that give them a distinct personality.

  • Il Mazzo wears a Phrygian cap with visor, a butterfly flutters in front of his face, he has a very long beard, his knapsack has a large red tassel much like the tail on the human figure on the Wheel of Fortune.
  • Bagatto waves his wand over a table strewn with cobbler’s tools. You can see chair legs behind him, and in some decks his legs are angled to show he’s sitting on the chair. He’s indoors so there’s no vegetation near his feet.
  • La Papessa has a double crown with a dome, not a triple papal crown. A slanted band holds two sides of her cloak together.
  • Empress: her eagle has a cross on its body, the throne has heavy upright columns that become wing-like in the TdM
  • Emperor has a crown instead of a helmet with a swooping back brim, and a cross on his eagle.
  • The Pope’s staff is topped with a flag or flower and has a single cross instead of the triple cross. In some decks his crown is shorter than the papal triple crown. Two figures stand in front of him.
  • In L’Amore/Gli Amanti, Cupid aims his arrow at the older woman whom the man favors. She wears a crown instead of a laurel wreath. In many decks, the women switch positions, so the young woman is on the left.
  • The Charioteer holds a whip diagonally across his body, or a staff with a stylized plant at the top. He has a cape draped over his shoulders, not epaulettes.
  • Justice wears a white lacy collar instead of a gold chain. A veil is rendered as a double line around her face. The drape behind her has a unique shape.
  • The Hermit appears monkish with a string of beads and a cross hanging from his waist. A hood covers his head, and his walking stick resembles a crutch.
  • The descending figure on the left side of the Wheel has a human face and a huge red tail. A king/Jupiter sits at the top of the Wheel on a dais. The Wheel has ornate spokes that end in flowers in some decks.
  • The lion on La Forza raises his paw to resist the woman.
  • The Hanged Man wears a jacket and short skirt, and his left leg is bent in some decks.
  • Death is similar to the TdM but the nature and placement of items on the ground vary from one deck to another.
  • Temperance: Plants on either side of the woman are more prominent, and we see her bare feet in sandals.
  • The Devil varies, sometimes with two sets of ears, or a hat and ears or horns. There’s a large face in his abdomen. In some decks he holds a flower stalk that may be a stylized torch.
  • The Tower is struck by the sun, flames, and a lightning bolt with an arrowhead
  • Star: some cards have five small stars, some have seven. There is no bird in the tree on the left.
  • The Moon is the same as the TdM, except for one deck that has a church instead of the left tower.
  • The Judgment/Angel card depicts four people in distress in the same postures as the soprafino deck by Dellarocca.
  • World: the woman dances on a globe. The thickness and materials of her wreath vary among decks. A small crescent moon is perched on her head.

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