Out of Africa: Tarot's fascination with Egypt

Farley, Helen S. (2011) Out of Africa: Tarot's fascination with Egypt. Literature and Aesthetics, 21 (1). pp. 175-195. ISSN 1036-9368


Mention 'tarot' and images of an exotic and mysterious gypsy fortune-teller spring unbidden to consciousness. Dark eyes flashing, she reveals the trumps one at a time, each a strange portent, preternaturally speaking of life, love, loss, and death. The gypsies, themselves enigmatic and of uncertain origin, were allegedly charged with carrying the tarot deck from a doomed Egyptian priesthood with the forethought to encode their most esoteric secrets in a game, a seemingly harmless pastime. How often have we heard that tarot‟s difficult birth occurred in an Egypt ancient and mystical? And though tarot scholars have known about the real origins of the deck in the Renaissance court of a northern Italian city for some two hundred years, still that link with Egypt remains obdurate. This beguiling myth, never convincingly verified by its perpetrators, began in the desire for pseudo-legitimacy through an ancient – though false – lineage and the dogged persistence of a pre-Rosetta infatuation with all things Egyptian. This article explores the origins of this persistent belief.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published verison due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Australian Digital Futures Institute (8 Dec 2010 - 6 Jul 2016)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Australian Digital Futures Institute (8 Dec 2010 - 6 Jul 2016)
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2017 23:44
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2017 06:23
Uncontrolled Keywords: tarot; religion and society; cultural history
Fields of Research (2008): 22 Philosophy and Religious Studies > 2204 Religion and Religious Studies > 220405 Religion and Society
Fields of Research (2020): 50 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 5004 Religious studies > 500405 Religion, society and culture
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950504 Understanding Europe's Past
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/30166

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