A visual history of Tarot
To explore the Tarot is to explore ourselves, to be reminded of the universality of our longing for meaning, for purpose and for a connection to the divine. This 600-year-old tradition reflects not only a history of seekers, but our journey of artistic expression and the ways we communicate our collective human story.
For many in the West, Tarot exists in the shadow place of our cultural consciousness, a metaphysical tradition assigned to the dusty glass cabinets of the arcane. Its history, long and obscure, has been passed down through secret writing, oral tradition, and the scholarly tomes of philosophers and sages. Hundreds of years and hundreds of creative hands—mystics and artists often working in collaboration—have transformed what was essentially a parlor game into a source of divination and system of self-exploration, as each new generation has sought to evolve the form and reinterpret the medium.
Author Jessica Hundley traces this fascinating history in Tarot, the debut volume in TASCHEN’s Library of Esoterica series. The book explores the symbolic meaning behind more than 500 cards and works of original art, two thirds of which have never been published outside of the decks themselves. It’s the first ever visual compendium of its kind, spanning from Medieval to modern, and artfully arranged according to the sequencing of the 78 cards of the Major and Minor Arcana. It explores the powerful influence of Tarot as muse to artists like Salvador Dalí and Niki de Saint Phalle and includes the decks of nearly 100 diverse contemporary artists from around the world, all of whom have embraced the medium for its capacity to push cultural identity forward. Rounding out the volume are excerpts from thinkers such as Éliphas Lévi, Carl Jung, and Joseph Campbell; a foreword by artist Penny Slinger; a guide to reading the cards by Johannes Fiebig; and an essay on oracle decks by Marcella Kroll.