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History of tarot cards

Since ancient times, people have had the desire to know their future. The origins of tarot cards can be traced back to the ancient past. Tarot cards gained their popularity in Europe in the middle of the 15th century, but appeared in Europe in the 14th century. the end. The first mentions of Tarot cards can be found in 1367 in Berne, and Tarot cards began to spread rapidly throughout Europe, in many places they were banned. Very little is known about how many cards were in the deck of Tarot cards at that time, the only information available is published in 1377 in Freiburg, where it is described that the deck consists of 4 decks, each with 13 cards, Kings and Queens are mentioned.

Tarot cards are made up of arcana, a term that means “a secret accessible to an inquisitive mind.” Today, the classic Tarot card deck consists of 78 arcana. The Arcana are divided into two large groups: the 22 Major Arcana and the 56 Minor Arcana. The junior arcana is divided into 4 suits of 14 cards each. It is believed that the Major Arcana were not originally in Tarot cards and only appeared in 15th century Italy.

Tarot cards were first documented between 1440 and 1450 in Milan, Ferrara, Florence, and Bologna, when additional trumps with allegorical illustrations were added to the usual deck of four suits. These new cards were called carte da trionfi, trump cards, and extra cards known simply as trionfi, which became “trumps” in English.

Some sources say that the oldest surviving deck of Tarot cards was created in Italy in the 15th century. in the middle. The Duke of Milan commissioned it as a wedding present for his wife Bianca Maria Visconti. The design for this version of the Tarot cards was created by the Italian artist Bonifacio Bembo. Based on the deck of cards created by Bembo, Italo Calvino even wrote a novel called Castle of Crossed Destinies.

senākā Taro kāršu kava Bonifacio Bembo
A card from a deck of cards designed by Bembo. Image source: wikipeda.org

Since ancient Tarot cards were painted by hand, it is believed that the number of decks produced was small. Mass production of cards became possible only after the invention of the printing press. The spread of the tarot outside of Italy, first in France and Switzerland, took place during the Italian Wars. The most prominent version of the Tarot used in these two countries was the Milanese Tarot of Marseilles.

Milanese tarocchi, c. 1500.
Milanese tarocchi, c. 1500., Image source wikipedia.org

Tarot cards were originally created as playing cards, but it was not a very popular card game at first. The 18th century saw the Tarot’s greatest revival, during which it became one of the most popular card games in Europe, played everywhere except Ireland and Great Britain, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Ottoman Balkans. The French Tarot experienced another renaissance starting in the 1970s and France has the strongest tarot playing community. Regional Tarot games, often known as tarok, tarok, or tarok, are widely played in Central Europe within the borders of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The earliest evidence of the Tarot deck being used for divination comes from an anonymous manuscript circa 1750 that documents rudimentary divinatory meanings for the tarocco Bolognese cards. Esoteric Tarot popularization began with Antoine Court and Jean-Baptiste Alliet in Paris in the 1780s using the Marseille Tarot. French tarotists abandoned the Marseille Tarot in favor of the Tarot Nouveau around 1900.

Tarot cards were very popular in many countries during the Middle Ages. From Egypt to India. The system of tarot cards and their symbols were the same everywhere, only the images on the cards changed according to the region and the culture of the specific region.
In the Egyptian version of the Tarot cards, images of the Gods, the Nile River, the rulers of Egypt and Egyptian mythology.
The Indian version of Tarot cards was dedicated to the universe, the connection of the Gods with man. Some cards were directly related to the human soul, the wheel of Samsara, as well as the afterlife.

Etteilla was the first to issue Tarot cards specifically designed for occult purposes around 1789. Despite the unfounded belief that such cards were derived from the Book of Thoth, Etteilla’s Tarot had themes associated with ancient Egypt.


There are many different variations of Tarot cards in the modern world. The cards are of different sizes, with different images, but the symbolic meaning is always the same.