Tarocchino Arlecchino

Arlecchino in a horned mask, holding his baton.

Tarocchino Arlecchino is a 64-card “little tarot” (based on the Tarocco Bolognese) dedicated to the mischievous Arlecchino, a.k.a Harlequin, a.k.a. Erl-King. To complete the project, the cards include divinatory meanings based on the Etteilla system. This pseudo-historic deck combines a few of my loves, and I hope you enjoy seeing it!

This page gives an overview of the deck. If you’d like to read about individual cards and see lists of meanings, visit the guidebook.

A large spread of cards from the Tarocchino Arlecchino deck
Note: This image is a prototype, and margins on the final deck will be larger.

The Trumps

All of the cards in Tarocchino Arlecchino are based closely on the 62-card Tarocco Bolognese. This gaming deck is an abbreviation of the 78-card tarot: the numbers 2 through 5 are removed from each minor suit, while all 22 trumps remain.

But there are differences between the popular Marseille pattern of trumps and this tarot. It has its own ordering and numbering, and many of the traditional cards have their own unusual compositions. You can view my reference at BnF Gallica, and keep scrolling to see my Harlequins!

A compilation of the 22 trumps and two Significators, with their titles and keywords.

I have arranged some collages of the trumps without their borders below, if you wish to see the larger image sizes.

First, some roaming cards: The Fool or Folly (center) and two Significators. Following the tradition of Etteilla decks, I have separated the Fool from the rest of the trumps, placing him at the final number in the deck (61). The two Significators are without number.
The first sequence of Trumps (0 through 6): the Magician, the (Female Pope), the Empress, the Emperor, the (Male) Pope, Love, and the Chariot
The Four Cardinal Virtues: Temperance, Justice, Fortitude, Prudence. Prudence will not be printed in the deck, but she still belongs here on this webpage.
Next, five allies or adversaries (10-14): Fortune, the Old Man or Time, the Traitor, Death, and the Devil. The Old Man is one of the most interesting cards of the Bolognese deck, showing more Saturnine features than your typical Hermit. The Devil also has a special place in my heard.
Then come the four Forces of Nature (15-18): the Lightning, the Star, the Moon, and the Sun. The Bolognese compositions show some intriguing alternatives to the Marseille pattern, and I especially love the spinner beneath the Sun.
The final trumps are the World and the Angel. The former depicts Harlequin-as-Mercury above the four elements. The latter shows Arlecchino with some of his companions of the Commedia dell’Arte.

The Minor Arcana

Each of the four minor suits consists of four court cards, an Ace, and numbers six through ten. In the ordering of these cards, I follow the Etteilla decks.

The Suit of Batons is based on an Autumnal woodland theme. The most famous Harlequin costume is a diamond pattern, but historically Harlequins have worn different sorts of patchwork motley. The Court of Batons all wear motley featuring fruits and leaves.
The Suit of Cups is a dreamy one, full of Moons, Stars, and (probably poisoned) wine. And the Ace – to quote Cher’s father in Moonstruck, “Birds fly to the stars, I guess.”
The Suit of Swords features a classic Harlequin look with a serpentine and spiraling theme. This was the suit I completed first – I love the Bolognese design of the Ace of Swords, where the sword becomes a serpent coiling back on itself!
The Suit of Coins also features the classic diamond motley, in a Wintry hunt theme. The Bolognese Ace is also very intriguing, with a hare and hound in a chase around the large coin. The Queen is also based on the Queen of Batons, as the library copy was missing this card.

Card back design for the deck

Kickstarter Campaign

I ran a Kickstarter campaign to try and fund printing. While the campaign did not meet its goal, I am very grateful to all backers! You can see the campaign below, where I am posting updates on the deck.