Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The "Ancient Tarots of Bologna" (copyright 1995) is part of a series of historical decks published by Lo Scarabeo. It is a reproduction of a deck originally printed in 1780 in Bologna, showing the Marseilles influence, and follows the traditional Tarot structure.
The Major Arcana, titled in French, are as follows: Le Fol, Le Bateleur, La Papesse, La Imperatrice, Le Empereur, Le Pape, L'amoreux, Le Chariot, La Justice, Le Ermite, Roue de Fortune, La Force, Le Pendu, La Mort, La Temperance, Le Diable, La Maison Dieu, Le Toille, La Lune, Le Sole, Le Jugement, Le Monde.
The suit names are Bastons (Wands), Coupes (Cups), Spe (Epees - Swords), Deniers (Pentacles). The court cards are: Roy (King), Reine (Queen), Cheval (Knight), Valet (Page).
The package consists of 78 Tarot cards, a title card, and nine double-sided cards carrying information on how to perform a simplified cartomancy reading, along with keywords for each of the cards (upright only). The cards (which take the place of the traditional LWB (Little White Book) are printed in English, German, Spanish, Italian, and French.
Some of the keywords are a little stilted, such as that for Le Fol (The Fool): "strangeness, infantilism, holiday, detachment from worries, madness." The Court cards indicate where the person fits into the life of the Seeker, as well as listing keywords. For example: "Queen of Chalices - woman friend, wife or faithful fiance. Romanticism, sensuality." The Pips (numbered cards) list upright keywords only.
Before I move on to the cards, I want to briefly look at the simplified cartomany method listed in the informational cards. The Minor Arcana are separated from the Major Arcana, and one suit of cards is chosen to read from, based on the question (Wands represents work, Chalices love, Swords legal questions, and Deniers business.) An interesting note here is that the cards are titled Deniers, but referred to as Pentacles in the reference material. The chosen suit is shuffled, cut, and three cards dealt. The procedure is then followed for the Major Arcana. The three positions are read as Past/Present/Future. However, the instructions neglect to say how the Major Arcana are incorporated into the reading!
The cards themselves are approximately 2 1/4" by 4 1/2". The back are an ochre color, with a brownish-red imprint. At the bottom of the cards appears the words "ALL' AQUILA", also in brownish-red. A card drawn in the reversed position would be evident. The faces of the cards carry the same ochre background color, with a thin black line approximately 1/4: from the edge creating a border. The Aces carry no suit name or number, simply the suit symbol. Cards 2-10 carry the appropriate number of suit symbols, with the number in Roman numerals in the middle of the right and left hand sides of the card. The Court cards carry the court title and the suit name at the bottom of the card. The Major Arcana carry the number in Roman Numerals at the top of t he card, and the title, in French, at the bottom of the card.
Some of the cards are a bit unusual, The Ace of Coupes (Cups) shows a hexagonal bottom, with a hexagonal top with what appear to be turrets at each corner, with what appears to be a building in the center. The 2-10 of Coupes all show the same type of cup: a hexagonal bottom and a rounded top. The Two of Coupes carries the illustrator's name (Giacomo Zoni) as a signature. Several of the hats are of the broad variety, strongly resembling the lemnescate (Cheval and Roy de Bastons, Roy de Coupes, Valet and Roy de Deniers, Valet and Roy de Spe (Espees), Le Bateleur, and La Force. In the suit of Spe (Espees, Swords) the even numbered cards show blades that are all curved, while in the odd numbered cards the central Sword is straight, with the remaining Swords curved.
The art appears to be black line drawing that has been colored in. The color scheme is a gentle melding of ochre, medium blue, light green and yellow. This deck would appeal to collectors, historians, those who read (or wish to learn to read) with a Marseilles style deck, or those who are simply looking for a very gentle deck.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.
See card images from the Ancient Tarots of Bologna
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