The History and Origin of the Tarot - in search of secrets ..
Tarot ~ History and Origin
It's all about games. Mankind has forever been drawn to the playing of games. Games of chance, games of skill and gambling. Tarot cards evolved from ancient playing cards and they differ from standard playing cards only in the fact that more cards were added to a deck of regular playing cards. The added cards were the trumps known as "trionfi" which means triumps. Also added were four queens and the fool.
Tarot Cards Evolved from ancient playing cards.
So why add 26 more cards to the standard deck of cards? It was for the development of the game. Today, tarot games are point-trick games in which you must trump if you have no card of the suit led. The 21 new trump cards were added to perform the then new role of being trumps. The four queens eventually replaced the pages in a modern standard deck of cards, but the pages still remain in most tarot decks as part of the court cards.
When looking for the origin of tarot cards themselves, you will find that most historians agree that the first deck of tarot cards was created in Milan (northern Italy) sometime in the early 15th century. These cards were designed as playing cards. The thing that set this new card deck apart from others was the addition of the four queens, the fool, and 21 trump cards.
If we are looking for the origin of what we know as the traditional occult tarot decks we see today, then we have to look to the origin of regular playing cards in general. If you insist on drawing a hard line between regular playing cards and occult tarot cards, it might be hard to draw such a line because regular playing cards have been and are still used for occult purposes and divination, and tarot cards have been and are still used for playing card games. There is no real hard line between the two. It is all in how they are used and in how you think of them.
The Origins ~ Ancient Playing Cards
The Islamic Mamluk cards were hand painted playing cards with the suits being coins, cups, swords and polo-sticks. This is very similar to some of the modern occult tarot card suits today with suits of coins (pentacles), swords, cups and wands.
Georgian mamluks (or mameluk, mameluke, mamaluke, or mamluke) were slave soldiers who converted to Islam and served the Muslim caliphs and the Ayyubid sultans during the Middle Ages. Over time, they became a powerful military caste, and on more than one occasion they seized power for themselves. They were the rulers of Egypt in the Mamluk Sultanate from 1250-1517. (wiekopedia.com) This fact may account for the idea that the occult tarot originated from "Egypt." The Italian game of Trionfi (cards of triumphs) did not originate from ancient Egypt, but the card's suits and the deck structure very likely had their roots in mamluk Egypt playing cards of the 13th century.
To further track the origins of these mamluk playing cards one would have to look further into history, war and conquest, and that search would probably take you to China and beyond.
Written records tell that the tarot was regularly used to play a card game similar to Bridge. The game was popular throughout much of Europe for centuries and is still played in a number of European countries, namely: Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland. Each of these countries has its own rather different version(s) of the game.
It makes sense that the first Italian and European tarot cards evolved from ancient hand painted playing cards which according to historians, (tarothermit.com.) came to Europe from Islam about 50 years before the development of the card game carte da trionfi (cards of triumphs).
This first deck of tarot cards with the added trumps, queens and the fool originated in northern Italy early in the 15th century (1420-1440) and eventually became known as tarocchi (Italian), tarock (German) and tarot (French). The name "tarot" became associated with the occult decks because it was the French who popularized it as a tool for divination.
The meaning of the actual word tends to point to the word triumphs or trumps. ( Trionfi in Italian.)
Occult Tarot Cards ~ Okay so it started with the French
Occult Tarot: The nature of the images on the Tarot trumps have led people to read occult meanings into the cards. This practice goes back to the 18th century. Although the first known Tarot fortune tellers were from Bologna (and used the Bolognese pack), the currently popular mystical interpretations of the cards originated in France in the last quarter of the century, and use the Tarot de Marseilles and packs derived from it.
Tarot de Marseilles is the forerunner of the modern occult Tarot packs. Used in France until they changed to French suited Tarot cards.
For more about the Marseilles family and the cards http://www.tarothermit.com/marseilles.htm
Since the 1780's, and especially in the twentieth century, numerous new Tarot packs have been designed explicitly for occult use. Though they all derive ultimately from the Tarot de Marseilles, often the names of the cards and the suits have been altered to fit the theories of occultists and to make them sound more mysterious.
The trumps and fool are known to occultists as the "major arcana" and the suit cards as the "minor arcana." The suit of batons is sometimes called wands, and the coins are sometimes known as pentacles and drawn as a star shape in a circle. The order of the trumps is sometimes adjusted, and some of them are renamed - for example the pope becomes the hierophant. "
The Tarot de Marseilles is a 78 card pack of the standard composition. The trumps are labeled and the subjects are: XXI - Le Monde (world), XX - Le Judgement (judgment), XIX - Le Soleil (sun), XVIII - La Lune (moon), XVII - L'Etoile (star), XVI - La Maison Dieu (depicts a tower struck by lightning), XV - Le Diable (devil), XIIII - Tempérance (temperance), XIII (death - unlabelled), XII - Le Pendu (hanged man), XI - La Force (strength), X - La Roue de Fortune (wheel of fortune), VIII - L'Hermite (hermit), VII - Le Chariot (chariot), VI - L'Amoureux (lovers), V - Le Pape (pope), IIII - L'Empereur (emperor), III - L'Impératrice (empress), II - La Papesse (popess), I - Le Bateleur (mountebank)."
The information for this page is for education purposes and was compiled from information found in cyberspace.