The Story of Tarot

Abstract

Tarot in its contemporary form has evolved over centuries. Some scholars believe that its four suits most probably derived from early Arabic card games, while the trumps were most likely invented during the Renaissance in Italy. The first known Tarot cards were created between 1430–50 in northern Italy (Milan, Ferrara and Bologna), where additional trump cards with allegorical illustrations were added to the common four-suit pack. These new decks were originally called Carte da trionfi or Triumph Cards, and the newly introduced cards were known as trionfi or trumps in English. The first literary evidence of the existence of Carte da trionfi is a written statement in the court records of Ferrara from 1442. The oldest surviving Tarot cards are the 15 fragmented decks painted in the mid 15th century for the Visconti-Sforza family.