The origin of tarot

The word ‘Tarot’ originates from the Italian word ‘Tarocchi’, which in the late 15th and early 16th century was used as a synonym for ‘foolishness’.

The original purpose of the tarot cards was similar to regular playing cards; a game. The earliest known tarot decks were made around the midst of the 15’th century in Italy, in Duchy of Milan, a state in Northern Italy. The cards where commissioned by Filippo Maria Visconti, who the at the time of the commission was the duke of Milan. His son-in-law Francesco Sforza also commissioned some of the decks.

These decks are known as the Visconti- Sforza tarot deck. The Visconti-Sforza deck had a big influence on the design, numbering and interpretation on the cards that followed. And inspired a big part of the lay-out of the modern tarot cards. Around 15 of these decks are still around and are kept in libraries, private collections end museums over the world.

An expanded deck was used in Florence Italy; the Minchiate deck. This deck was made up of 97 cards and made use of astrological symbols as well as traditional Tarot motifs.

Because these early tarot-cards decks where hand painted the number of decks produced was limited. Only after the invention of the printing press a wider spread production became possible.

During the Italian wars (in the years 1494- 1559) the practice of tarot spread to countries outside of Italy, like France and Switzerland. The most popular tarot pattern used in these countries was called the ‘Tarot of Marseille’.

Nowadays Tarot is practiced all over the world. So, there are lots of different Tarot decks. Have a look around and see which one fits you best!

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The origin of tarot

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