Does The Tower Symbolize a Tarot Deck? A House of Cards?

(I’m busily at work on my Marteau translation, but I want to wait until I have a sizable chunk before posting any more.  In the meantime, here’s something I posted last summer on the Tarot History Facebook page.)

Have you ever counted how many bricks high the Tower is in some of the Marseille permutations? In the Jean Noblet deck, for example, if you exclude the crown at the top, the tower is 22 bricks high. As in 22 trumps, I propose.)Image result for noblet maison dieu

But here’s the thing that’s really interesting: As you know, the sequential number of The Tower is typically XVI. Well, in the picture, the lightning severing the tower is striking it precisely at the 16th brick.

A coincidence? I then looked at the Tower of the (Conver) Marseille deck. Once again, we find that the tower is exactly 22 bricks high.

No photo description available.In this card, each level is made up of bricks until you get to the 16th level, which is depicted not as layer of bricks, but as a blank space.  I’ve always thought that was a really strange blank space, too. This makes the 16th level unique among all levels above and below it. Have a look at it in the third picture: it’s the level directly under the double windows.

I went on to look at several other Marseilles decks, and found that several artists made their Towers exactly 22 bricks high. (Though by no means all of them.)No photo description available.

I’ve just started looking, but I found at least one Visconti style Tower with a 22 brick-high tower.

An aside: I found out that the concept of the “house of cards” (and all that implies) dates back at least to the middle 1600s. And what else is the significance of The Tower except that it is a house of cards?

 

POSTSCRIPT:  After I had posted this, it was striking to me how some people responded by saying that, well, anything can be made out to mean anything, (which, if you have any academic training in art, you know better than) so so what? I think someone else countered that my observation had nothing to do with “divination purposes,” which is of course irrelevant to my observation; another person seemed to sneer at the idea of my having nothing better to do than count bricks. There were even more bizarre objections than that. I appreciate that this was only a Facebook page and not a forum of trained historians, but…well, golly.  

 

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