Review by Solandia
"Scheherazade, Aladdin, Sinbad, and Ali Baba are characters of A Thousand and One Nights, where they pursue adventure, magic, poetry, and eroticism."
The Tarot of the 1001 Nights is a window to a magical and sensual Eastern world created from finely detailed, rich, and intricate art by Leon Carre, a new Tarot artist for Lo Scarabeo. His cards depict Tarot scenes through the lens of Arabian life and the East, as imagined when it was most fashionable among aristocratic Europeans of the 18th century.
The theme was inspired by the Tales of the Arabian Nights, the collection of fairytales that originate from the oral tradition of the Near East and are said to have been told by Scheherazade. Tales like the voyages of Sinbad the sailor, Ali Baba and the forty thieves, and Aladdin and his wonderful lamp, which were made available to English readers when translated in the nineteenth century, by Richard Francis Burton.
The major arcana cards of the 1001 Nighs are often mythical and magical, featuring dragons and winged beings, giant snakes and flying thrones. The minor suits of Chalices, Wands, Swords and Pentacles are more mundane – if huge palaces and lushly decorated surroundings can be considered mundane – and show humble inns and fishermen, lush and luxurious household scenes, towns and parks, merchant ships and blacksmiths. All of the cards have very thick, ornate borders; the majors with a red-toned border and the minors with a blue and yellow toned border and the suit element at the top.
Here the traditional Tarot archetypes and scenes have been reinterpreted and ‘broadened’ in meaning. The creators have tried to keep the imagery relatively recognisable without excessively distorting it, but the Tarot link wasn’t always immediately apparent to me. They also allow for use of reversals, with mirrored and thus reversible backs and specific meanings (often more than half) devoted to upside-down cards. Knave, Knight, Queen and King were chosen for the court card titles.
There are a lot of visually appealing cards in the deck through their use of blends of colour, landscapes and composition: the Aces; the Two and Four and Ten of Chalices; the Two of Pentacles; The Lovers and the Sun. Unfortunately I found often the images are so small for the amount of detail contained in the card that it was hard to make out everything all of the scene – larger cards would have been preferable.
The booklet has a typically small amount of information accompanying a deck from Lo Scarabeo. It’s a shame not to be able to find out more about who is depicted on the major arcana cards, which tales were associated with which cards and why, or how the cards were linked with well-known characters or stories. Instead, there’s just a short introduction, brief upright and reversed meanings for each card, and a ‘divining method’ called the garden of Scheherazade. For example:
I – The Magician – Cunning, desire to improve, impartiality, bad judgement, insincerity.
XX – The World – Sentimental bliss, demanding tasks, setbacks, hindered activities.
Ace of Wands – Spirit of initiative, departure, new creations, upset joy, excessively strong family ties.
I think the Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights would really benefit from larger-sized cards without the distracting white borders, and an informative companion book to expand on the card imagery. As such, it is a pretty deck with gorgeous colours and engaging scenes – there is so much to look at in each card, it’s hard to get bored with the cards – but it would be best for the reader already familiar with Tarot imagery.