New Material on Mantegna Tarocchi & Sola Busca
Nadya Chishty Mujahid, An Introduction to Western Esotericism: Essays in the Hidden Meaning of Literature, Groups, and Games, Edwin Mellen Press, 2008
5. The Epsilon-Sigma Caduceus: The Mantegna tarocchi as a book of ritual for Kappa Sigma
6. The Sola-Busca Sundial: A Renaissance tarot deck as a mutus liber of ritualistic initiation
“Carefully researched and helpfully illustrated, [the] book [also] elucidates the long history of the Tarot, which stretches back to the 15th century, and its permeation of familiar (and sometimes not so familiar) cultural texts.” – Prof. Joe Lenz, Drake University
Elsewhere she writes:
“This leads to a question: how useful then is much of the available scholarship on the Tarot (especially that which is written in English), and can it be considered scholarship at all? The answer is that it depends on whether one views the issue from the perspective of cultural studies or from that of other disciplines. Art history has consistently regarded the development of Tarot as a fascinating sub-field, and Arthur Hind’s classic work published in the early 1900s titled Early Italian Engraving testifies to this in no small degree, as indeed do Kaplan’s above-mentioned encyclopedias. Oddly enough, Western esotericism (formerly a sub-discipline of religious studies and now widely regarded as a field in its own right) has yet to give more attention to this topic, although Irwin’s text provides a definite starting point for the scholar and layperson alike. One reason for this might be that most Western esotericism scholarship that centers on the Tarot is in French, and, fine and informative though it may be, that naturally limits its reception in the English-speaking world. However, Wouter J. Hanegraaff’s Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism does provide a readable English section on the Tarot (by expert Jean-Pierre Laurant) with a useful list of sources. If one regards humanities as a broad and overarching discipline in itself, there certainly is a niche for Tarot scholarship under the rubric of it.”
Tarot Studies as Scholarship
Nadya Qamar Chishty-Mujahid
Paper Title: Manuel Chrysoloras and the Origins of the Tarot: The Probable Masonic Influences Incorporated in the Mantegna Tarot
Abstract: This paper posits that humanist Manuel Chrysoloras, the founder of the prestigious Italian Renaissance fraternity of Kappa Sigma, was familiar with early Masonic principles and, in fact, may have been the first Renaissance Freemason. Moreover, what we now regard as the E and S-series of the “Mantegna” tarot probably originated from images used by Chrysoloras to inform his student-followers about Pythagorean, Platonic, and Ptolemaic concepts. Central to the clarification of my theories are issues concerning Chrysoloras’s links to the powerful Italian ducal houses such as the Visconti family, whose patronage of this enlightened scholar and diplomat most likely proved to be enormously influential to the development of the tarot, especially over the course of the fifteenth-century. In sum, I will demonstrate that key cards of the “Mantegna” tarot’s E-series appear Masonic in nature and were likely inspired by the classical and hermetic teachings of Chrysoloras.
NADYA CHISHTY MUJAHID, THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY IN CAIRO
An Examination of Andrea Ghisi’s Venetian “Labyrinth” Game and its Hermetic Predecessor, the Mantegna tarocchi
“In 1616, Venetian nobleman Andrea Ghisi presented Giovanni Bembo (then Doge of Venice), with a curious game based on the Mantegna tarocchi. My research in hermeticism has involved an exploration of the E- and S-series of the Mantegna engravings (ca. 1460), that appear to exhibit hermetic characteristics. In this paper, I attempt to reconstruct the original game that constituted Ghisi’s “Laberinto.” Although Ghisi did not leave clear directions as to how this game was to be played, certain images of this elegant set (especially those that appear to deviate from the original Mantegna engravings) provide clues that help one establish a relationship between “Laberinto” and a type of “chess.” Special consideration will be given to the concept of “mutation”: Ghisi’s game is as mutated a version of the Mantegna tarocchi as the abovementioned “chess” is a mutated form of the most predominant version of the game played in seventeenth-century Europe.”
Nadya Chishty-Mujahid is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo. She received her Ph.D. in English Literature from McGill University in Montreal.
Further on Chrysoloras and the Mantegna Tarot