The tower and the devil in the Visconti-Sforza deck: lost or absent?

Farley, Helen S. (2014) The tower and the devil in the Visconti-Sforza deck: lost or absent? In: Tarot in culture. Valleyhome Books, Clifford, ON. Canada, pp. 505-527. ISBN 978-0-9936944-4-8


Even though the Tower and Devil cards are invariably part of contemporary Tarot decks, these cards are missing from the very earliest decks produced for Duke Filippo Maria Visconti in the fifteenth-century. This paper uses cultural history to evaluate the likelihood that the Tower and the Devil were originally included in the Visconti-Sforza deck. This enquiry is significant as the Visconti-Sforza deck is the one on which subsequent decks were based. Given that the Tower would have represented the demise of the archrivals of the Visconti family, the della Torres, their name literally meaning 'Tower'; it seems likely that the card was subsequently lost from the Visconti-Sforza deck. In contrast, there was no consistent iconography of the devil at the time the Tarot deck first emerged. At best, monsters that resembled later images of the devil were prevalent. The familiar iconography of the Devil card did not become current until around one hundred years after the first appearance of Tarot in Italy; thus, it is improbable that the Devil formed part of the earliest trump sequences, including that of the Visconti-Sforza deck.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Australian Digital Futures Institute
Date Deposited: 12 May 2015 23:17
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2017 00:18
Uncontrolled Keywords: tarot; religion in culture; religious studies;
Fields of Research : 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2203 Philosophy > 220315 Philosophy of Religion
16 Studies in Human Society > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology
22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950404 Religion and Society

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