Tarocchino Arlecchino: Death

Harlequin-Reaper rides in on a golden horse with a ghostly face and ragged mane. His mismatched costume is sleek and form-fitting and he hefts an enormous scythe. As he passes, you hear the rattle of the serpentine spikes on his mask and see the air fill with red swirls.

I was originally going to make Death’s costume primarily black and white, but it just wasn’t giving the fevered atmosphere… so I went closer to the original color scheme. The deck’s painter really went to town with the red slashes on this card, and so did I!

Source gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

For the mask, it ended up somewhat different from the original plan, but I was thinking of Severian’s mask on the Claw of the Conciliator cover, painted by Don Maitz. Upon further reflection I’m not sure whether the halo of fibers around his head is part of the torturer’s-mask or just Severian’s greasy hair (Severian remembers everything, yet never describes washing his hair… pretty suspicious). Anyway, I combined that with his psychedelic cloak lining to make something like the stingers of a poisonous ocean creature.

For this card I’m back to being able to use the Etteilla meanings. What is more straightforward than Death?

Keywords (translated from Julia Orsini)

Upright: mortality, death, passing, last sigh, end, extinguishing, annihilation, destruction, attack, murder, assassination, homicide, suicide, regicide, massacre, carnage, butchery, slaughter, occision*, poison, poisoning, deterioration, rot, corruption, putrefaction

Reversed: nothingness, inertia, sleep, paralysis, lethargy, evanescence, negation, null, not at all, paralyze, annihilate, fall asleep, somnambulism

*This is a new word to me, it means killing or slaughter.

Leave a Reply