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Gilded Tarot - tarot decks

Playing Cards
Playing Cards -> Tarot decks

Price: US $13.31

ProductID: alt0027

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About this item
  • The Gilded Tarot is a visually stunning Rider-Waite style tarot, the first from the talented Ciro Marchetti. The 78 cards
  • feature real people, and have a mix of medieval, fantasy, cosmic and steampunk art, all illustrated in lush, vivid colour.

Name Gilded Tarot
Creators Ciro Marchetti
Publisher Llewellyn 2004
Deck Type Tarot Deck
Cards 78
Major Arcana 22
Minor Arcana 56
Deck Tradition Rider-Waite-Smith
Minor Arcana Style RWS-Based Scenes
Cups, Swords, Wands, Pentacles Court Cards
Page, Knight, Queen, King Major Titles
The Fool is 0
Strength is 8
Justice is 11
Card Size 2.75 x 4.63 in. = 6.99cm x 11.75cm
Card Language English
Card Back Reversible
Back Design Colourful, jeweled, fantastical sun.
Companion Material Companion book by Barbara Moore is packaged in the set.


Welcome to the Gilded Tarot world of fantasy, magic and enchantment. Its release as a mass-produced and widely available deck has been awaited with anticipation by those of us not able to afford one of the luxurious limited edition, hand-made copies direct from the artist, Ciro Marchetti.

There are few decks with artwork that I’ve found quite this attractive. Ciro’s art is a sophisticated blend of digital paintings drawn by hand on a graphics tablet, and some pasted elements (mostly faces). The vibrancy and choice of the colours is fantastic: the backgrounds of blue skies, sunrises, night skies, twilight, stars and comets in many cards are so luminous they almost appear to glow, as do the strong, saturated blues, greens, purples and reds of the medieval-style costumes.

In symbolism, the Gilded Tarot is fundamentally Rider-Waite but it is not a clone or even a re-drawing of Pamela Colman-Smith’s very familiar art. Rather than simply copying, Ciro has used its imagery as a jumping off point for his imagination and inspiration. The Gilded Tarot isn’t one to use for its comparative historical symbolism or occult and esoteric depth, but the card images are unique and beautiful, feeling more like a beautiful fantasy or the inhabiting of a hyper-real dream-world than the Rider-Waite ever did.

The major arcana cards are traditionally named (bar the Hanged Man, who is here the Hanging Man). In most major cards the art has been stripped down to the main human figure, losing some of the familiar symbolism and detaching them somewhat from their environment. (The High Priestess, the Hanging Man, Temperance and the Fool – who looks interestingly but coincidentally like George W. Bush - literally float, weightlessly, in the air.)

The minor suits are Cups, Wands, Swords and Pentacles. The chosen suit symbols are fairly standard, though the Wands are unusual. Rather than magical or living wands, the Gilded Tarot has a unique baton that appears more like a fountain pen with a metal ring attached to one end. The deck has a few other mechanistic touches, especially noticeable in the Wheel, the Sun, Star and Moon, which is slightly at odds with the non-technological fantasy landscapes.

While the most of each card scene in the Gilded Tarot is a digital illustration, the human faces are not. Photographs rather than drawings of faces with the appropriate expression and angle have been used instead. I like this effect; my eye is drawn first to the human face in a card and I find it off-putting if a face is drawn clumsily or out of proportion (not an uncommon occurrence in many decks). The faces of the Gilded Tarot’s medieval characters have a distinct reality of expression, which has been matched to the mood of the card. Overall, my favourite cards of the deck are the Hierophant (not usually one of my favourites, but the combination of the stained glass and robe colouring is stunning); Judgement, which seems to glow; the natural meadow scene with the moon in the Ace of Pentacles; the lighting, sky and colours of the Two of Wands and Page of Wands; the blue and purple sky colours in the Knight of Swords. (All of the Knights and the Kings are on my favourite list, actually, the composition of these cards is gorgeous.)

The Gilded Tarot cards are packaged in a front-opened cardboard box, along with a black organdie bag and a 168 page book. (I like these sets from Llewellyn, but there is usually a large amount of empty space in the box, and this means the packaging is almost always crushed in transit and arrives with torn corners and sunken panels.)

The book, 'The Gilded Tarot Companion' is a nice looking but extremely basic tarot manual. It does contain artist notes - a background on the deck, the inspiration and the motivations for its creation - but unfortunately nothing else written by Ciro. The rest of the book is a workbook written by Llewellyn’s Barbara Moore divided into Basics, Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, The Court Cards, and Spreads. The Basics section covers learning the cards, significators, reversals, divination, performing a reading, plus a number of exercises. The card meanings offer two paragraphs describing the image and its possible meaning, alongside plenty of space for notes, while the back of the book contains five common but useful tarot spreads. Together, the book and card set is suitable for beginners. More experienced readers will find little of novelty in the book or deeper insight into the images -- a separate cards-only edition could be a good idea.

I also would have liked to have seen this deck in a larger size with bigger pictures for easier viewing of the wealth of gorgeous detail and colour, but the Gilded Tarot is a still a deck to be admired. It is suitable for beginners; has wide appeal to querents with its attractive images and lack of nudity or frightening cards; and it is eminently worth collecting for the pleasure of the artwork.

Combine shipping is possible.

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