Der-Jen Tarot by De Zhen

Review by Saskia Jansen


The Der-Jen Tarot is an exciting new release from Taiwan. The deck is also known as the Classic Chinese Ladies Tarot, a name that is very appropriate indeed. The symbology and meaning of the cards is not always very obvious or clear, but the art definitely makes up for that. I don't know how many of you have ever seen the classical Chinese paintings, but I have and they are gorgeous. With the Der-Jen Tarot, you are holding 78 of those paintings in your hands.


But let me start at the beginning. The Der-Jen Tarot comes in a big cardboard box.  The cards are printed in a nice size and I am sure nobody will have trouble shuffling these cards. Unfortunately, the laminate is rather sticky, especially when the deck is new. The deck contains 79 cards. The extra card is the first card you see when opening the box and it has no title or meaning. So I am not sure why it is included. Maybe they just liked the art.


The Magician seems to juggle several weird looking objects. These objects, of course, represent the elements and are used in the rest of the deck. The Magician has an aura of art and creation to me and I think it is very nice. The High Priestess is meditating and I find that the card has a definite feeling of peace, especially compared to the whirlwind of the Magician.


Both Empress and Emperor are young, beautiful people, dressed in lush robes. Their hair is styled in a traditional Chinese way with jewels and pins adorning it. This is something we see all over the deck and it makes the Der-Jen a feast for the eye.


The Der-Jen follows a pretty traditional interpretation of the tarot: The Lovers show a young couple, Strength, a woman with a lion, and in the Justice card, the lady is holding a scale. I am not sure what to make of the Wheel of Fortune card. It is very different. I can distinguish some symbols of the dragon on there. I assume that the dragon means the same in Chinese lore as a Wheel of Fortune in our western world. But I could be wrong.


Death shows a traditional Chinese Death mask and has a more eerie feeling then most of the other cards. The lady on Temperance seems to let some kind of yellow vapor out of a bottle which mixes with the blue air. The Devil (at top) looks to me like an image of a Christian fallen angel. I may be wrong, but that is my immediate association and the book can't tell me otherwise, because it is written in Chinese and I don't read that language.


The Sun is the cheeriest card in the deck--but in a very elegant way. Just looking at this card makes me smile. Judgement shows a beautiful lady playing a flute. This card echoes the more traditional image of the angel blowing a trumpet. Personally, I would rather be called to awakening by this Chinese 'angelí than the standard version.


On to the minors, where we come also come to the downside of the deck. They are ordinary pip cards. The symbols used for the Wands, Cups (is that a saddle on that Ace of Cups?), Swords and Coins are nice and look very traditional. But they donít give much extra information when reading with the deck. The court cards again feature beautiful Chinese women and men. The pages are all female and the knights have to do without horses, which is actually quite appropriate, I think. There are plenty of interesting images here to contemplate about and each suit certainly has its own feel.


All in all, the Der-Jen tarot is a truly lovely deck. I recommend this deck for art lovers and everyone who likes their decks to be beautiful and different.


I bought my copy of the Der-Jen on Ebay. It might be possible to buy this deck here.


Saskia Jansen is a tarot collector and reader from the Netherlands. She bought her first tarot deck in 1996 and has been hooked ever since. Her main interest is in historical Rider Waite Smith decks and clones, and is the proud possessor of a Roses and Lilies Pamela-A Tarot. Her collection currently contains more than 600 tarot decks.

Review © 2004 Saskia Jansen
Page © 2004 Diane Wilkes