Minchiate

THE TAROT WHEEL

THE MINCHIATE DECK

Like the Tarocchino deck, the Minchiate deck is a variation of the Tarocco (Tarot). But instead of removing cards, like in the Tarocchino decks, cards were added to the Minchiate decks. The changes are made in the Trump cards. The Popess was removed, but after the Deviel 20 new Trumps were inserted; the four missing Virtues, the Four Elements and the twelve signs of the Zodiac. The order of the original Trumps is the same as for the Tarocchino deck. In the Minchiate deck, the cards numbered 1 to 5 are called the five Popes. The Fool and the five highest cards (from the Star to the Angel) are unnumbered.

 

The history of the Minchiate decks goes back at least to the 16th Century and maybe further. In the 16th Century the Minchiate had another name, it was called the Germini deck. In 1553 the Fiorentine Bartolomeo di Michelagnolo published a poem decribing the forty trumps of the Germini deck. A translation of the Poem is available on the Taropedia site. For this reason we believe that the origins of the Minchiate game are in Florence. The oldest surving fiorentine decks we have date from the 17th Century. In Bologna we know several Minchiate decks produced in the 18th Century.

 

Many books have been written on the Minchiate decks and searching the Internet for Minchiate will reveal much more information than I can give here. I'm not a Minchiate specialist, so the text and illustrations here below are only a short introduction to this very peculiar cousin of the Tarot decks. The Minchiate decks has some particularities in common that make them easy recognizable. Some of them are listed here below :

  • The 20 added trumps. Even if the added Virtues appears in some other decks, the four elements and the 12 Zodiac signs do not appear in any other Tarot related deck. Here below as example the four elements (respectively Fire, Water, Earth and Air) represented by an 18th Century deck made in Bologna.
  • The four knights who are half human and half animal, the knights of Coins and Cups in a passif position and the knights of Swords and batons in a active position. The example below is from a Minchiate deck made in 1823 in Rome. The animals seems respectively a female lion, a griffion, a horse and a male lion.
  • Like on the Tarocchino cards the Pages of Coins and Cups are girls and the Pages of Swords and Batons are boys. The girls like the knights of the same suits in a passif position and the boys in a fighting position. The examples are from a deck made in the 18th Century in Florence.
  • The young Kings of the suits of Coins and Cups and the Old bearded Kings of the suits of Swords and Batons. This feature is in common with many other deck and will not be illustrated here.
  • The drawings on several pip cards. The cards illustrated below are from an early 18th Century deck from Bologne. The drawings on the Coins are also existing on the Tarocchino decks made by Mitelli, but the other drawings (that are especially abundant on the suit of Swords) are typical for the Minchiate decks.
  • And then there are several typical Trump cards. I will not show them all here, only some very typical examples. The deck is made in 1712 in Florence by a certain Giovan Francesco di Santi Molinelli. We see here the Chariot, with a naked woman standing and guiding the horses, the Hermit represented as a cripple old man with in the background a deer and an hourglass transperced by an arrow, the Tower illustrated as a nearly naked woman escaping from the gate representing maybe the Purgatory and finally the World with a naked angel standing on the World surrounded by the four winds blowing on the Earth.

By the end of the 16th Century the regular Tarocco games with 78 cards had almost disappeared as a game in Italy. Only in Central Italy the Tarot related Tarocchino and Minchiate games were extremely popular. Other variations appeared like the Sicilian Tarot game (Tarocco Siciliano), that used Spanish suit symbols instead of Italian ones.

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