The Ancient Tarot of Lombardy
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Ancient Tarot of Lombardy … by Ferdinando Gumppemberg
quietly powerful neoclassic deck, di Ferndinado Gumppenberg
simplifies many of the cards without losing any of the symbolic intensity of
the Tarot. The Marseilles style
pips are clean and elegant. Hand-drawn borders complement the delicate line
drawings and coloring. This unique deck with its gentle lines is a perfect
expression of the poetry and magic worked by diviners everywhere, weaving the
past into the present as they seek the future.
For those of us who find the
Rider-Waite-Smith illustrated pip cards too forcing and confining, but who
find the Marseilles deck aesthetically
unpleasing, the Italian engraved "soprafino"
decks make a good compromise. This is an interesting exemplar of the type.
Lombardy is a region in
northern Italy; Milan and Bologna are the chief
cities. This is, as far as we can tell, the home turf of the standard deck of
Tarot cards, and it is interesting to speculate as to whether the variations
present in the nineteenth century "Ancient" Tarot of Lombardy
represent the preservation of earlier traditions.
The deck is older, and not quite as well-preserved as the Della Rocca "Classical Italian" Tarot. It was made
for the publishing house of Ferdinando Gumppenberg in 1810, according to the leaflet. Some of
the finer lines have become blurred in the intervening years, but the
drawings of the characters are distinct and well made. There are some
interesting graphical variants in the trumps that place this deck somewhere between
the Marseilles style and the Swiss
1JJ deck. Lo Scarabeo's box text makes this deck
out to have been drawn in a "neoclassical" style; it is true that
many of the figures are bearded and toga'd, and the
coins seem to feature Roman emperors.
The Pope and the Papess are still here, but Strength is once more Hercules
or Samson wrestling a lion. On the Wheel of Fortune, Dame Fortuna reappears
to turn the crank; the crowned fellow at the top is obviously human, as is
the naked man at the bottom, but the ruler is pursued by a dog on the side of
The Magician (Il Bagattelliere) is depicted as a travelling
salesman, carrying around his wares in a tray, with a Napoleonic era bicorn
cap. In the Lovers, a single woman is conversing with two male admirers. The
Hermit looks down to confront a snake in his path. Temperance has three jugs,
one on her shoulder, and she pours the water into one set on the ground. The
Devil has lost his two supporters, and appears alone. On the Last Judgment,
the risen dead seem to be rising from the flames.
The pip cards are attractive,
even if they have no divinatory pictures and could be used for card playing
as easily as divination. Refreshingly, the clubs and swords depict the
appropriate number of discrete clubs or swords, rather than curved or straight
lines to distinguish swords from rods as in the strict Marseilles tradition. Some of
the Knights (Cavaliere) and some of the Pages (Fante) have their faces turned away from the viewer.
This beautiful deck
includes the 78
–card Lombard Tarot and an
Information from this page is
populated from Llewellyn.com
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