Review by Solandia
The Dante Tarot was inspired by the life and creations of Dante Alighieri, who was an Italian poet born in 1265. He is best known for his Divina Commedia (Divine Comedy), a poem that describes a journey into the three parts of the Christian afterlife: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso - Hell, Purgatory and Heaven.
As there is no real relationship between Dante Alighieri and the Tarot, the four suits and the major arcana cards, or Trionfi, have been transformed to fit with Dantesque themes.
The suit of Bricks (Pentacles) traces Dante's life, depicting influential characters, his work, and his marriage ups and down. It begins with Florence, and Studies, moving on to First Love, The Court of Love, sliding into Bad Company and ending up in Marriage. Then comes the enemy, followed by Simoniac Popes, the Lady of Stone and finally Cino di Pistoia. The court cards are various backers, advisors and friends.
The other three suits correspond to the sections of the Divine Comedy. Flames (Swords) depict the main events shown in Dante's Inferno and are accordingly grim. Cards feature Charon, Cerberus, The suicides, and the King of Flames, Lucifer. The suit of Clouds (Pentacles) shows slices of Purgatory, while Lights (Cups) are a positive suit, representing the ascension into heaven.
Dante's earlier work, the Convivio, "an encyclopaedic exposition of Medieval knowledge", forms the basis for the Trionfi. The traditional tarot archetypes have been reworked to fit with the concepts introduced in the Convivio. Major arcana titles have been changed and stand for abstract skills and qualities. For example, Need is the Fool card, Direction the Chariot, Moderation Temperance, Authority is the Devil (which does not have as dark an interpretation as many a 'fluffier' tarot deck - it instead stands for 'ambiguous charm, magnetism, charisma, ability to convince.')
The little white book packaged with the Dante Tarot provides titles and very basic divinatory keywords - suggestions, really - for each card. These are useful because most cards, but the minor arcana in particular depart so far from 'standard' well-known tarot structure and meanings.
The smooth, distinctive, two-dimensional art was designed by Giordano Berti and created in pastels by Andrea Serio. The surreal theme is seamless - every card is immediately recognisable as a card from the Dante Tarot.
The Dante Tarot is a themed art deck, not a standard tarot deck suitable for everyone. Certain liberties have been made with the 'traditional' tarot structure and symbols, but that is part of the attraction of this intriguing and imaginative set of cards.