Dante's Tarot (I Tarocchi di Dante e dei Fedeli D'Amore)

This is a 78 card Italian art deck. The cards are larger than average at 3 1/2" X 6 1/4". On the Major Arcana, the card number is on the top of the card and the name is on the bottom in Italian. The backgrounds on the major Arcana are often a dull metallic gold or silver. Even those Major Arcana cards with other colored backgrounds tend to have a lot of metallic accents. The Minor Arcana do not have the name or number written on the card. The Minors have scenes. The cards have an antique gold metallic inner border and an off-white outer border. The backs are reversible. The suits are Wands, Swords, Coins and Cups. The suits are color coded: Wands are green, Swords are blue, Coins are rose, Cups are gray and white. In the numbered cards (two through ten), the suit symbols are in the upper third of the card. The art is very good and is enhanced by the larger than average size. The art looks as if it might have been done in markers or pastels as the colors do not have a smooth appearance. The colors are not bright. The backs are reversible.

The imagery is varied. Some of the Major Arcana, like the High Priestess, the Lovers and Death, have scenes based on traditional Tarot. Other cards like the Empress and Judgment, seem to be based on religious art. The Minor Arcana illustrate scenes from Dante's works. Many of the images are rather gruesome. For example, the Two through Five of Wands show us clubbing, crucifixion, people under a yoke and hanging. The Ten of Swords shows us the murder in progress, vice the aftermath. Cards that are usually considered rather benign, like the Ace of Disks and the Nine of Cups are also rather frightening. The court cards range from calm to gory. The overall tone of the deck is rather dark and foreboding

The deck comes with a little booklet written in Italian. Like the deck, it is rather large. The first half of the booklet seems to be providing background information on the deck and Dante. Each card has a quote from one of Dante's writing with the name, section and verse number provided. No other meanings are given. For example:


e già iernotte fu la luna tonda: ben ten de' ricordar, ché non ti nocque alcuna volta per la selva fonda».  (Inf. XX 127-29 cfr Inf. I)

*And yesternight the moon was round already; Thou shouldst remember well it did not harm thee From time to time within the forest deep."

The card meanings are followed by a bibliography or recommended reading list. There are no spreads given.

The deck is packaged in a two piece red box. The Dante Tarot was distributed by US Games in the 1980s for $25.00. I have heard of it selling on Ebay for very high prices (more than $1,000.00). Alida recently had a few for sale and sold them shortly after they went up. All the more reason to check that site frequently. I recommend this deck for collectors. Should you come across one do not hesitate to buy it. 

*Translations and quotes are from The Digital Dante

Images Copyright © 1983 Produzioni Editoriali D'Ami

This page is Copyright © 2000 by Michele Jackson