The Fengshen Tarot was billed as China's first tarot deck, and is based on the story of Houshin Engi, a classical epic about the rise of the Zhou dynasty. It has beautiful major arcana and courts, but the numbered cards are non-scenic.
I just bought this deck recently, and the box it comes in with the book is just beautiful!
After looking at these pictures, I had a lot of high expectations, but when the box arrived in the mail, there were a few things that I was disappointed with.
First, right after opening the box, I noticed their size was quite small compared to the Der-Jen deck. Another initial problem I had with this deck was that the back of the cards had no finish on them. It sort of felt like they were cheaply made...and they couldn't afford a nice glossy finish for both sides. The backsides of the cards have a very rough cardboard-like feel, while the front are rather glossy and smooth.
The pips are not illustrated, but I was already expecting this. Not a disappointment here.
There seems to be very little RWS symbolism in this deck. Sometimes I wonder if the artist even knew what he was doing at all when he was commissioned to create these cards...of course, I might also be missing some other valuable information from the book, since I don't actually read simplified Chinese. (I read Japanese.)
The theme of these cards is connected to the characters of the Chinese classical epic "Fengshen Yanyi" also known as "Fengshen Bang" or "Houshin Engi". A fantastical tale about the rise of the Zhou Dynasty. Although I have not read the story myself, I am familiar with the story and some of the characters through popular media forms. There have been many games, cartoons, and television series inspired by this Chinese tale.
Even with this background knowledge however, the cards still seem to be hard to use for readings. I think this deck at its best can only be appreciated as an art deck.
Of all the Court Cards and Major Arcana, each of the characters correspond to a character or a god/goddess found in the story. Their names are printed in Chinese in the bottom right hand corner. I'm sure the accompanying book explains more about the reasons behind each character and the card, but I do not read Chinese.
Overall, I think this deck has a more "masculine" and "yang" feeling to them than the Der-Jen China Tarot does. And even though the pips aren't illustrated on the Der-Jen either, there is still a hint of RWS symbolism among the Major Arcana cards in the Der-Jen China Taort. I like to use the Der-Jen China Tarot for my own personal meditations, and I initially bought the Fengshen Tarot as an alternative deck for when I want to do readings for other people, (although I haven't started these yet...)
Anyways, I hadn't seen that anyone else had done a review about the deck yet in English, and I don't think a lot of people have this deck or even know much about it for that matter. I just wanted to throw this out as option to people who might be interested in Chinese deck alternatives. Or for collectors.