An Invitation to Comment on an
Russian Etteilla-Style Tarot Deck
By James W. Revak
A Brief Description of the Deck
The subject of this article is an apparent Etteilla-style Russian Tarot deck published in Moscow in 1861 (see title page of instruction booklet, right); however, its existence, provenance, and dating are unconfirmed. It is clearly a Tarot rather than a cartomantic deck based on regular playing cards; it includes both Major Arcana (the Trumps and Fool) and Minor Arcana (numeric and court cards). The numbers and divinatory meanings assigned to each card indicate that it is an Etteilla-style deck; they follow Etteilla’s system.
Illustration (right): Title page from an instruction booklet for a Russian Etteilla-Style Tarot deck. Note the place and year of publication, Moscow and 1861 respectively, at the bottom.
The artwork, often neo-Gothic in style, resembles that of the group of decks called Etteilla III by some Tarot historians (see Decker, Depaulis, & Dummett, A Wicked Pack of Cards). This group includes the Delarue deck (c. 1865) (see Decker et al., and Kaplan, Encyclopedia of Tarot, volume 2), and Tarot égyptien: grand jeu de loracle des dames (first published c. 1870, re-published in relatively recent times by Éditions Dusserre). Two Trumps from the Russian deck and the corresponding ones from Tarot égyptien are illustrated (below) for comparison purposes.
Illustrations (left to right): Support (corresponds to the Emperor of more traditional decks) from the Russian Etteilla-style deck (1861), and the corresponding card from Tarot égyptien: grand jeu de l’oracle des dames (first published c. 1870, re-published by Éditions Dusserre); Comments (corresponds to the Moon of more traditional decks) from the Russian deck; and the corresponding card from Tarot égyptien. Click the images for larger ones.
(continued, click here)
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Copyright © 2002 James W. Revak. All rights reserved. Version 2.0 (1/1/02).