The Moon Tarot Card
I've been interpreting tarot cards, reading about them, and collecting them since about 1975 or '76, I haven't discovered any new decks in the dark recesses of any museums nor have I created or restored any historic tarot decks. I haven't even written any tarot books. My primary research is done by reading as much as I can on the subject by those who have shared their research, and by looking at the historic cards that I have access to, and making my own observations. One thing that I have been obsessing about lately, is the origin of the Moon Tarot Card. There are some who believe it is a French convention which began with the Tarot de Marseille tradition, and others who believe that maybe there is a missing link tarot deck from Italy. I think it's been right under our noses the whole time and all we have to do is look at a few cards to see how images might have transitioned as they migrated from country to country and culture to culture. It's entirely possible that these observations have already been made and that I'm just behind the power curve, but there's no learning like learning from your own observations, and I'm not going to apologize for that. (Click on any photo to see it in its entirety.)
Let's take a look at the Earth card from the Florentine Minchiate 1800s deck and compare it to the Jean Noblet Moon card ca 1650. (First photo). Admittedly, the Minchiate deck I am showing was created in Italy in the 1800s and is not as old as the Noblet, but it does follow an established Minchiate tradition begun in Florentine in the 1600s.
Minchiate decks include the addition of elements, virtues, and astrological cards resulting in a 97 card deck. As the name implies, the game of Minchiate is a Florentine convention, which varied from the original game of Tarocchi which is even older.
Do you see any similarities between the Michiate Earth card and the Noblet Moon? I do! And they're so obvious to me that I can't un-see them. Several common elements are shared between them: two towers; a large circular object occupying the sky; a type of bank or bridge over water, and something on the side of the bridge. In the Minchiate it's a pair of tunnels channeling water into the body of water below it. In the Noblet it's a crayfish. Look closely and you'll see two creatures in the Minchiate, one of which strongly resembles a dog, and in the Noblet we also have a pair of creatures which resemble dogs. There is no crayfish in the Minchiate, but can the crayfish be a type of image typo, in much the same way that the round full bloom of the Minchiate tree became the moon in the Noblet?
Furthermore, can the transference of images be as human as a traveler having been in Italy and sharing either random cards from a deck of Tarocchi or even Minchiate with French deck maker who thought that creating a similar deck in France would be a great idea? Is it possible that the Earth card of Italy kind of morphed into the Moon card in France?
The Minchiate Earth card compared with the Pierre Madenie deck of 1709, (2nd photo) shows that the TdM Moon design was pretty much cast in French stone fifty years later in 1709.
And further furthermore, take a look at the 3rd photo of the Mitelli Star card and compare it to the Noblet Hermit. Both are elderly men with lanterns. The Mitelli deck is an italian Tarocchino deck from 1600s Bologna. The Mitelli Star card features a wanderer under a night sky. The Noblet has ditched the night sky for the wanderer who seems to have become their version of The Hermit. Which leads me to ask, where did they get their design for the TdM Star card...? I'm guessing it's probably based on an astrological Aquarius card from an earlier Italian deck.
For the record, the 4th photograph shows the Minchiate Moon card and the 5th photo compares the Minchiate and Mitelli Hermit cards.
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