The Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights", curated by Pietro Alligo and released by Lo Scarabeo in 2005, builds upon the striking work of early-twentieth-century French Orientalist artist Leon Carré. Carré's illustrations for the esteemed book “Thousand and One Nights” also know as "The Arabian Nights", or Alf laylah wa laylah in Arabic illuminate these cards, portraying the magical Eastern world once romanticised by eighteenth-century European nobility.
Inspired by the Near Eastern oral traditions, the cards reflect the legendary stories narrated by Scheherazade, a cunning Persian queen. These narratives, spun out over 1,001 nights, captivated a Persian king, saving her life, and ultimately leading to his love for her. The tales include famous narratives such as Sinbad's voyages, Ali Baba and Aladdin. Translated into English by Richard Francis Burton in the nineteenth century, they became a staple of Victorian society's reading list.
The major arcana of the deck features mythical elements like dragons, winged beings, giant snakes and flying thrones. In contrast, the minor suits (Chalices, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles) display everyday scenes such as landscapes, inns, fishermen and merchant ships.
Interestingly, the depictions of human figures on these cards stand in contrast to the historical Mamluk cards, which did not feature people due to Islamic prohibition on human depictions in artwork.
While the primary attraction of this deck is its striking artwork rather than its divinatory aspect, the reinterpretation of traditional archetypes adds an intriguing depth. The detailed, rich artwork infuses the tarot reader with an essence of Arabian mystery and romantic allure, connecting them with the sensual delights of the Eastern world.
Minor Arcana: Chalices (Cups)
Minor Arcana: Pentacles
Minor Arcana: Swords
Minor Arcana: Wands
Member since March 15, 1997
Adam has been involved in developing the site as well as reviewing new decks and conducting research. He is particularly interested in innovation, Kickstarter and East Asian cards. He is a member of the IPCS and webmaster of the EPCS.
A limited edition art print of the King of Diamonds 1984 woodblock joker.
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