The Tarot is a card deck, often used for divination The deck has 56 cards in 4 suits of 14 called the Minor Arcana. And an additional 22 cards called the Major Arcana.

Major Arcana

See also: Major Arcana

Minor Arcana

See also: Minor Arcana

The four suits are Suit of Wands, Suit of Swords, Suit of Cups, and Suit of Pentacles.

Differing tarot sets


See also: Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot


The Visconti-Sforza tarot deck is the oldest known Tarot deck. Then still called Trionfi ("trump") cards, commissioned by Filippo Maria Visconti, [1] Duke of Milan, and by his successor Francesco Sforza.

The name Visconti-Sforza tarot deck is used to refer to fragments of up to 15 different decks found in various museums and libraries around the world, but of those decks some consist of only a few face cards or a single card.

The three most famous decks are:

  • 1) The Pierpont-Morgan Bergamo Visconti-Sforza deck, (also known as the Colleoni-Baglioni deck)

Seventy-four of the original seventy-eight cards remain: twenty trump cards from which the name came, 15 face cards and 39 "pip" cards without a character) 35 are in the Pierpont-Morgan library in New York, 26 in the Accademia Carrara and 13 in the private collection of the Colleoni family in Bergamo. The trump and face cards have a gold background, while the "pip" cards are cream with a coloured flower motif.

  • 2) The Cary-Yale Visconti-Sforza deck (also known as the Visconti di Modrone deck)

Named after the Cary family collection of Card Games, absorbed into the Yale University library in 1967. A study dates it to 1466. Sixty-seven cards (11 trumps, 17 face cards and 39 "pip" cards) remain, so assuming the same number of trumps as the Pierpont-Morgan deck, there would have been a total of 86 cards. Both the date and original number of cards are disputed. The Cary-Yale is the only western deck with six face cards "Damsel" and "Lady on horse" are added to the traditional King, Queen, Knight and Jack. All trump cards have a gold background, while the non-face cards have a silver background.

  • 3) The Brera-Brambilla Visconti-Sforza deck

Named after Giovanni Brambilla, who acquired the cards in Venice in 1900. From 1971 the deck was in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan. Apparently commissioned from Bonifacio Bembo (but also probably with contribution by the Zavattari family) by Francesco Sforza in 1463, it consists of 48 cards with only two remaining trumps - the Emperor and the Wheel of Fortune. All face cards have a gold background while the non-face cards have a silver background. The seven remaining face cards are: Knight and Jack (also known as Valet, or Knave) of Cups; Knight and Jack of Coins; Knight, Jack and Queen of Batons. The number cards are almost complete, missing only the four of Coins.

Notes and References

  1. [1]

External links

Major Arcana
The Fool
The Magician
The High Priestess
The Empress
The Emperor
The Hierophant
The Lovers
The Chariot
The Hermit
Wheel of Fortune
The Hanged Man
The Devil
The Tower
The Star
The Moon
The Sun
The World
Minor Arcana
Suit of Wands
Ace Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Page Knight Queen King
Suit of Cups
Ace Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Page Knight Queen King
Suit of Swords
Ace Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Page Knight Queen King
Suit of Pentacles
Ace Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Page Knight Queen King
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