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1JJ Swiss Tarot - tarot decks

Playing Cards
Playing Cards -> Tarot decks

Price: US $16.62

ProductID: alt500

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About this item
  • The 1JJ Swiss Tarot is an older style of tarot deck, a Marseilles variant. The cards are reprints of early woodcut designs, printed in black and coloured with blocks of red, blue, green and yellow. Titles are in French.


Specifications
Name 1JJ Swiss Tarot
Creators Stuart Kaplan
Publisher AGM-Urania 1970
Deck Type Tarot Deck
Cards 78
Major Arcana 22
Minor Arcana 56
Deck Tradition Marseilles
Minor Arcana Style Marseilles-Style Pips
Suits Court Cards
The Fool is 0
Strength is 11
Justice is 8
Card Size 2.37 x 4.37 in. = 6.03cm x 11.11cm
Card Language French
Card Back Reversible
Back Design Ruddy-coloured check pattern.


Reviews
Early on, I became somewhat uncomfortable with it, because of things I was reading. I bought it at a Spencer Gifts or some such purveyor of enlightenment. This would have been in 1975 or so. I would have been around fifteen.

First, most of the books assumed that you owned a Rider-Waite-Smith deck. I found it less than adequate because the RWS deck had all the extra pictures and mystic symbols and this one did not. Then I checked out some library book that said that the Marseille cards had all of this arcane lore connected to the colours and shapes of the original Marseille. And this isn't one of them, either.

But I stuck with it, learning to read it by studying the RWS images in the book and calling them to mind with the pip cards of this deck. This perhaps was not the easy way, but I stuck with it. And later, when I (moved beyond)/(rebelled against) some of the imagery of the RWS scenes, the 1JJ was accomodating, but the RWS scenes are much harder to ignore. You try telling somebody that the RWS Ten of Swords might just mean a looming bar exam.

This would be a "Soprafino" Tarot if it were Italian. The images are finely detailed coloured engravings. But it's a Soprafino that has remained in production to the present day, so what you get are new printings rather than faded reproductions. This will be to some people's tastes, but not everyone's. The colours will be much louder than a reproduction deck.

The deck is a Marseille variant. The most obvious difference between the Marseille and the 1JJ is that Juno and her peacock, and Jupiter and his eagle have been swapped in for the Papess and the Pope. This continues a tradition that began in the Tarot de Besancon. The decks were apparently sold throughout an area that contained both zealous Catholics and zealous Protestants, who didn't want a Pope or a Papess for rather different reasons.

It seems that many current Taroteurs don't want a Papess or Pope either, for reasons of their own. Using the Roman gods gets around them in an insightful way that keeping the old images but renaming these trumps to "The High Priestess" or "The Hierophant" doesn't. It also works better than some other substitutions that have been made in historical decks. In "The Magical World of the Tarot," Gareth Knight praises this substitution as appropriate and insightful.

There are other merits to the Trumps of this deck. Dame Fortuna has been restored to her role as the turner of the Wheel of Fortune, and the figures rising and falling have recovered their humanity as well. The Death card is one of the best Deaths of any deck I know of, traditional, esoteric, or modern: the usual image of the reaping skeleton, but drawn well, unlike the crude skeleton of the original Marseilles.

There are other less successful innovations that have been made here, though. Two of the sacred animals have gone missing from the World. The Fool is a particular failure here; he's been turned into a standard court jester in motley, and has lost his dog, his backpack, and his setting.

My 1JJ is in French. Get the French version if you can find it: this is the original. An English version exists, but in it the Deniers have been made into Pentacles, and the Batons into Wands; this strikes me as anachronistic on a traditional deck.

Used to be that the 1JJ was one of the easiest to find Tarots. There are many more on the market now, and you'd probably have to look for this one a bit harder now. If you attach special significance to the presence of every Marseille symbol, it will not get the job done. But if you are comfortable reading a pip card deck, this deck has both nineteenth century and twentieth century tradition on its side.


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