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Published May 17, 2024 Updated May 17, 2024

Le Monde Primitif Tarot

Facsimile edition produced by Morena Poltronieri & Ernesto Fazioli of Museo Internazionale dei Tarocchi, 2021.

2021 Italy De Gébelin Museo Internazionale dei Tarocchi Facsimiles & Replicas History Tarot Add to Collection

Above: this elegant box, titled "Le Monde Primitif I Tarocchi," features an illustration of the Fool. Adorned with a wax seal and bordered by a stylish pattern of silver circles on a black background, it was released in February 2021 by the Museo Internazionale dei Tarocchi.

T-6he boxed set includes 22 major arcana cards plus four aces with an explanatory leaflet. The leaflet helpfully gives a summary of Court de Gébelin’s life and references his essay on the tarot, which appeared in vol.8 of his “Le Monde Primitif” published in 1781.

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Above: this informative leaflet provides an overview of "Le Monde Primitif" tarot deck, detailing the historical background and significance of the 22 Major Arcana and four Aces. It includes insights into the XVIII-century tarot research by Antoine Court de Gébelin, along with descriptions of various tarot cards and their associated meanings. Also see the leaflet in Italian.

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De Gébelin proposed that the tarot was a repository of ancient Egyptian wisdom, distilled by priests from the Book of Thoth. His writing exerted a profound influence on later writers, even though most of his assertions were found to be incorrect. He often resorted to hyperbole and exaggeration [Hall, 2016, p.131]. However, his belief in the mystical origins of tarot has turned out to have played a significant role in the modern esoteric understanding of Tarot.

De Gébelin suggested in "Le Monde Primitif” that the four suits in the tarot relate to the four castes of Egyptian society (See excerpt). He also believed that the 22 trumps are allegorical representations of secular and spiritual heads of society, leaders of agriculture, cardinal virtues, marriage, death, ressurrection, the sage, the fool, time, etc (second excerpt). The plates of the cards in the “Le Monde Primitif” book follow the Tarot de Marseille pattern, which is late medieval European, and is where de Gébelin believed he could see an Egyptian origin: "J'y jette les yeux, & aussi-tôt j'en reconnois l'Allégorie / I cast my eyes, and immediately recognize the Allegory" [p.367]. The facsimile edition reproduces each card with a black border with a title and number at the bottom.


This deck was published by Morena Poltronieri & Ernesto Fazioli of Museo dei Tarocchi, February 2021, It comes in a sturdy cardboard box with the museum's hot wax seal. The cards are printed on textured, matte art stock and the titles are written in French and have traditional Roman numerals. Limited edition of 120 numbered copies.

Further References

Hall, Evalyne K.: Du Jeu des Tarots et Recherches sur les Tarots, Evalyne's Garden Gate, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, 2016

Vine, David: Vintage Tarot Texts, Editions letarot.com, 2022

Le Mond Primitif - I Tarocchi

de Gébelin, Antoine Court, Monde Primitif, analysé et comparé avec le monde moderne (vol.8), Paris, 1781

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By Simon Wintle

Member since February 01, 1996

Founder and editor of the World of Playing Cards since 1996. He is a former committee member of the IPCS and was graphics editor of The Playing-Card journal for many years. He has lived at various times in Chile, England and Wales and is currently living in Extremadura, Spain. Simon's first limited edition pack of playing cards was a replica of a seventeenth century traditional English pack, which he produced from woodblocks and stencils.


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