Review by Bonnie Cehovet
This is an absolutely stunning deck! And ... it has a twin, something that I have never encountered before. Nefertari's Tarots is the mirror image of the less expensive Tarot of the Sphinx, the difference being that Nefertari's Tarots has a background of brilliant gold foil with black borders, while Tarot of the Sphinx has a background of Mediterranean Blue (with the images being reversed in the Nefertari's Tarots).
The theme of the gold foil background is included on the box - which makes for a very impressive, eye-catching presentation. There is no book (that I know of) that accompanies this deck, which is a shame. The background for this deck is an Egyptian theme, based on Nefertari, bride of Rameses II, Pharaoh of the XIX dynasty of Egypt, and one of their greatest Kings. According to the LWB (Little White Book) that accompanies the deck, Nefertari was a very hands on Queen, taking an active part in the temporal government of the kingdom.
The deck itself is 2 5/8" by 4 3/4", of high quality cardstock and a usable size for smaller hands. The backs are black, and carry an inverted image of the eye used on the box cover (in silver) as a motif. It would not be noticed whether cards were drawn in the upright or reversed position.
The card faces carry a stunning gold foil background, with black borders. The titles for the cards are in five languages: Italian on the bottom, and English, French, German and Spanish on the top right and left hand corners. The Major Arcana carry Roman Numerals on the top of the card, while the Minor Arcana Pips carry numbering.
The art carries is very stylized Egyptian motif, using symbols, hieroglyphics and what seem to be stories of the Gods/Goddesses. I say what seem to be God/Goddess stories, because there is no background or explanation given anywhere in the LWB for the art. This deck could definitely use a book, because I don't think there are all that many of us that have a grounded background in Egyptology.
The LWB, thankfully, is in English. There is minimal information presented, and it is presented in an accordion style booklet - my least favorite of all! The one spread that is presented - entitled "Finding Your Own Goal" is one that I had not seen before. It is a six card presentation focusing on a particular goal of the Seeker. It addresses the subconscious desires of the Seeker, as well as any fears that they may have, and ends with a card that represents what the Seeker truly wishes for. I like this one - it is very client oriented and "usable".
The presentation of the cards is minimal - a basic meaning for the card, and sometimes a mention of the God or Goddess portrayed. The only manner in which reversals is addressed is that they are generally treated as "almost the contrary" of the upright meaning, and as something that each reader needs to determine for themselves.
Every single card in this deck is incredible - due to the use of the gold foil background, as well as the Egyptian motif. One of my favorite cards is Death, which is portrayed by the Ibis figure of Anubi, God of Death. On either side of the main figure we see a male and female figure kneeling, with hieroglyphics to the right hand side.
Temperance also has its day, portrayed by the an unnamed, winged Goddess, kneeling, with her wings outstretched, and two vessels sitting between them. Above her wings we see two panels of hieroglyphics.
The Queen of Pentacles shows a youngish, happy Queen, standing with her arms raised to shoulder height. and held up, palms out. She wears gold bracelets on her left arm, and appears to have a feathered ornament hanging from it. Hieroglyphics are also used, along with a red Ankh in the middle of a bright yellow circle.
The Ace of Cups is an interesting fellow - a bright yellow cup resides on the bottom of the card, with a picture of what appears to be a scarab in the middle, with hieroglyphics on either side.
The Ten of Cups shows three cups along the bottom - two upside down and the middle cup upright. Above them we see a male figure serenading a female figure, with seven upright cups above them.
The Knights are also quite interesting in this deck - they are all portrayed as riderless horses!
This is an excellent deck to add to a collection as a representation of Egyptian decks, or as a meditation or reading deck for someone with a sound background in Egyptology. I would not recommend this as a reading deck for the general public, as the symbology would not be understood, and they would not be able to connect with it. My personal thought is that one would need to be very careful shuffling the cards (and handling them in general) because of the gold foil. Having said that - this is a stunning deck, and if you think this deck might have a place in your collection, don't hesitate - it is well worth the purchase price to a collector!
© August 2004
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.