Ancient Italian Tarot Reviews

The Ancient Italian Tarot shows artwork in a medieval Italian style. The card scenes are of a similar style as the 1JJ Swiss Tarot but with more detail and muted colour. Card titling is small and in Italian only.

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Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - Lo Scarabeo



Review by ihcoyc

This deck is a reproduction of an Italian deck from the 1880's, which in turn was based in part on the 1835 deck by Carlo Della Rocca. It has rapidly become my favourite traditional deck, which for me means that it is my favourite deck of all time.

The trumps in this deck are soundly based on Marseilles symbolism, if not always on Marseilles design principles. What you get, at least in the images on the cards, almost always directly reflects the Marseilles tradition.

There are some typically Italian modifications, though: the Magician (I - Il Bagatto) becomes an artisan, probably a cobbler --- at least I think that is a cobbler's last on his table. He wears an apron, tying him not only to the practice of skilled trades, but also to Freemasonry.

The Lovers (VI - Gli Amanti) have the typical couple and Cupid; they stand before a crowned woman in ermine robes, and the man grasps the hilt of his sword.

The Wheel of Fortune (X - La Ruota) is an intriguing design, adding a torch to one of the posts of the Wheel, and placing at the head a crowned, winged figure who wields the thunderbolts of Jove and a cornucopia. The fruit of the cornucopia falls down the wheel, and is pursued by a fox.

Death (XIII - Il Tredici) is prettily traditional in design, the skeleton's scythe moving among crowns, mitres, swords, and other emblems of worldly vanity. Unfortunately, the card has been given a name, and that name means "the Thirteenth".

The Devil (XV - Il Diavolo) is a lively design of a trident-wielding Satan with bristly whiskers, sitting in flame on the backs of other monstrous figures.

The Moon (XVIII - La Luna) has a whimsical touch: the lobster is present, but appears on a platter. This makes the fact that the dogs ignore the feast and continue to howl at the moon slightly improbable.

All in all, the traditional symbols are present, or at least the cards are a reasonable artistic variation on the traditional symbols. The advantage of this deck is that the traditional images are here engraved by a fine artist, rather than being done in blocky woodcut shapes.

This deck is worth comparing to another available deck, also published now by Lo Scarabeo, called "The Classical Tarots". This is a recoloured reprint of Della Rocca's original engravings. I like this one better. In the Classical Tarots, the fields of the images have been narrowed slightly to allow for the printing of keywords along the border. The court cards have been redone in this deck, and are much more attractive than Della Rocca's originals. The colouring of the cards is somewhat more muted here.

All in all, either would be an excellent traditional deck. This deck gets you mostly faithful Marseilles symbolism in a more attractive and artistic package.




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