Review by Solandia
The Etruscans were an ancient tribe who lived in what is modern day Tuscany and Campagnia. They were a major power in pre-Roman Italy up until the fifth century BC, their culture rivalling the Ancient Greeks. After this time the Etruscan people, language and culture were gradually assimilated by the Romans, until little remained to distinguish the Etruscans as a separate people. Only traces of their existence remain today. As very little of the Etruscan language has been deciphered, most of what is known about these people is reconstructed from archaeological artefacts and Roman writings.
Silvana Alasia, known for creating tarot decks such Nefertari's Tarot and the Egyptian Tarots, was the iconographic researcher for the Etruscan Tarot. The cards have been created in the style of Etruscan art, but modified to fit the tarot structure where necessary. There seem to be similarities to Ancient Egyptian papyrus painting in perspective but with more life, more passion and movement, less rigidity. (Angles of the human body are sometimes odd, in the case of early cards like the Fool and the Magician, but appear much more three-dimensional throughout the rest of the deck.) The card art also recreates the ancient look, the paintings appearing as through pigment has rubbed in patches with age.
The cards seem to show a joy of life, a contentment and happiness of the simpler pleasures. The cards have many natural elements - snakes and birds appear often and almost every card shows a stylised tree or plant. The scenes are uncluttered and down to earth. Both male and female nudity is commonplace, a normal and unremarkable part of life.
The Wands are living boughs, sprouting leaves. Cups are wide-rimmed chalices with red and black decoration. The orientation of the cup changes depending on the card's meaning - the 2, 3, 9 and 10 are all upright, whereas the 4, 5, 7,8 are mixed upright and reversed. Pentacles are a seven petalled flowerlike symbol enclosed in a circle. Swords are long and tapered with decorated handles, coloured and ornamented by a curling decoration at the base of the handgrip. (A sword, which seems more a ceremonial decoration than a fighting weapon.)
The little white booklet has no divinatory meanings, just simple, practical descriptions of the card's surface symbols, For example, 'XIX - I seek the light. A god of the Sun is waking up, surrounded by light. The Sun.' or '5 of Pentacles - A naked boy is gathering olives fallen on the ground.' This leaves the reader to decide on the significance of the picture. The booklet also has two novel spreads, the Tomb and the Banquet. The Tomb is a spiritual excavation of the inner self and innermost secrets, while the Banquet is a joyous spread for finding spiritual happiness and contentment.
While perhaps a little obscure for the absolute beginner with its simplified and Etruscanised art, the tarot archetypes essentially familiar and this art deck should be accessible by most tarot readers. Read the tarot, and learn about a lesser-known ancient culture at the same time.