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Keane – Pop Tarot in Palazzo Pancrazi

Italy is said to be the birthplace of the tarot, which according to playing-card historians was originally a card game invented in the fifteenth century.

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A series of paintings by Keane which were installed in the new Bistro at the Locanda di Mezzo in Barga Vecchia back in 2016 (article here) have now been moved into the Palazzo Pancrazi in Barga Vecchia. 

Tarot cards in Barga

Barga, in it’s heyday, was a stronghold of The Medici’s Florence. Against the often fiercely independent republic of Lucca, and the Dukes of Este, or ubiquitous Visconti, it was known as Barga Fiorentina

The city was also well known during the Middle Ages for the manufacture of silk threads which were exported to major centres such as Florence.

A recent article mentions Florentine silk dealers Lorenzo di Bartolo and Matteo di Zanobi, who in a side business also traded with playing cards between 1431-1460. Through the silk dealer records we know also about Florentine playing card suppliers, likely producing artists. Antonio di Dino, Antonio di Simone and Niccolo Calvello (who sold more than 3500 decks to the silk dealers) were the major suppliers till c. 1450-1456.

So it was quite possible that during those times, 500 years ago, people were playing here in Barga with some the original Tarot or Trionfi packs of cards.

The Tarot Cards

The tarot first known as trionfi and later as tarocchi is a pack of playing cards (most commonly numbering 78), used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play a group of card games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot. From the late 18th century until the present time the tarot has also found use by mystics and occultists for divination.

Italy is said to be the birthplace of the tarot, which according to playing-card historians was originally a card game invented in the fifteenth century and whose principal innovation was the introduction of trumps into Western European card-gaming.

The symbolism found on some early tarot cards has led many people to believe that tarot cards are in fact the expression of ancient streams of wisdom… the eternal, esoteric and holy tradition itself.

Following this belief, modern tarot packs draw upon the teachings of a tremendous range of traditions, including Kabbalah, Western esotericism and alchemy, Buddhism, Sufism, Egyptian initiations, mystical Christianity, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Celtic mythology… and so on.

The Tarot of Marseille restored by Philippe Camoin and Alexandre Jodorowsky

Founded in 1760 by Nicolas Conver who in the same year engraved his famous Tarot de Marseille, the Conver Factory in Marseilles, France became by marriage the Camion House.

Keeper of the Tarot of Marseilles tradition for more than two centuries, the Camoin House was forced by the industrial revolution to change the colours of the Tarot. After long research work, Philippe Camoin and Alexandre Jodorowsky rebuilt the colours and symbols of the Tarot. Some of them were incomplete or had already disappeared by the 18th century.

“Almost all of the Tarots in the world are copied on the pattern of the Tarot de Marseille”, observes Philippe Camoin, in the light of numerous irrefutable signs which he had gathered and uncovered in the course of his investigations of the Tarot de Marseille. The essential goal of this research was to rediscover the symbols, the purpose, and the primary meaning of this monument of Western culture, in a way that the language ws equally intelligible to our friends in the East. It is helpful to quote here H.P. Blavatsky: “The Tarot is the key to all of Western esotericism.”

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