Austin Spare and the Ages of Tarot

Farley, Helen (2016) Austin Spare and the Ages of Tarot. In: Lost Envoy: The Tarot Deck of Austin Osman Spare. Strange Attractor Press, London, UK, pp. 31-42. ISBN 9781907222443


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In spite of the persistent legends linking it with the Ancient Egyptians or bands of wandering Gypsies, tarot had its origins in the decadent Court of Milan in Northern Italy, sometime around the beginning of the fifteenth century. It was an innovative modification of the regular playing card deck that was relatively common throughout Italy, having arrived from Northern Africa most likely through the busy port of Venice. The eccentric Duke Filippo Maria Visconti oversaw the design of the trump cards that would become characteristic of tarot. The modified deck was used in a trick-taking game which functioned as an allegory for life in which both skill and chance played a part. The trump cards of the three extant Visconti tarot decks formed a particular narrative of Visconti history, culminating in the World trump depicting the glory of Milan.

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Item Type: Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Australian Digital Futures Institute
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2016 06:34
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:44
Uncontrolled Keywords: tarot; cultural history; religion is society; austin osman spare
Fields of Research : 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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