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Dali Tarot Reissue


iofthebeholder

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iofthebeholder

Dali Tarot reissue by Tachen arrived in the mail today : ) Really love the rich imagery of this deck, especially the way many cards leave a lot of negative space. Stylistically nothing else in my collection bears much similarity to it. Reading the accompanying book makes it clear a lot of the meanings diverge a fair bit from typical RWS associations, but it seems internally consistent and the images speak very clearly.

 

One interesting thing I noticed : certainly looks like Dali borrowed / collaged the suit symbols directly from the Royal Fez Moroccan deck, which has fairly distinctive, recognizable suit symbols. 

 

It comes in a ridiculously big velvet box but the cards also have a tuck box. Altogether feeling very pleased with this addition to my collection, anybody else grabbed this reissue?

 

IMG_20191126_101142890_HDR.jpg

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iofthebeholder

the Fiebig book, in large (13"h x 7.5"w) paperback format with gold metallic ink on the cover and some interior pages.

 

noticing a number of canonical card images appear clearly transposed from their expected title to differently titled positions (the devil > the world, the world > the sun, the sun > the knight of coins, the knight of coins > the fool, the fool > the devil), finding that a bit perplexing since it receives no mention or explanation in the book (with the exception of the world / devil, explained with notions about the devil as a prodigal son, humanity imprisoned in time & space, and the three graces faith love and hope). however all the canonical images are there, even if, must presume intentionally, mis-titled for some reason.

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If memory serves, the Dali Tarot shoehorns his existing art into a tarot format. It's easy enough to mistake one card for another when looking at the deck or even to disagree about which piece of art represents which tarot card. If I have the time today, I'll pull out both the Pollack and Fiebig books and see how they both stack up.

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2 hours ago, iofthebeholder said:

noticing a number of canonical card images appear clearly transposed from their expected title to differently titled positions (the devil > the world, the world > the sun, the sun > the knight of coins, the knight of coins > the fool, the fool > the devil), finding that a bit perplexing since it receives no mention or explanation in the book (with the exception of the world / devil, explained with notions about the devil as a prodigal son, humanity imprisoned in time & space, and the three graces faith love and hope). however all the canonical images are there, even if, must presume intentionally, mis-titled for some reason.

💡 You're talking about the cards themselves, not the book. Yes, the Devil card looks like it should be the Fool since the figure is being pushed off the cliff. And the Fool looks like it could be one of the Knights. The Sun looks like the Sun to me because I assume that's Apollo, the Sun God. To me the Kn Coins looks like it could be either the Sun or the Kn Wands.

 

Pollack mentions the Devil/Fool similarity:

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Usually this card shows the common image of Satan (actually the god Pan) with horns, goat's hooves and a tail. Dali's card resembles the most popular version of the Fool, that of someone dancing off a cliff.... But the conjunction with the Fool can lead to a different view....

 

She also addresses the similarity of the World and the Devil:

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The three women, taken from The Judgement of Paris by Lucas Cranach the Elder, stand chained, like the male and female in most versions of the Devil. The face in the box, reminiscent of the mask in the Chariot, towers above them, staring out with fierce, almost angry energy.

 

Neither Pollack nor Fiebig addresses any similarity between the Sun and the World as they both see the figure as Apollo as I do.

 

Pollack addresses the similarity between the Kn Coins and the Kn Wands:

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Like his Wands counterpart, this figure comes from Gozzoli's Voyage Of The Three Kings. Interestingly, Dali places him on the same horse as the Knight of Wands. The switch reminds us of the way both suit combine qualities of Fire and Earth.

 

Generally Pollack writes less about each card than Fiebig does, And as is true with most LWBs, the one that comes with the deck is pretty darned useless (at least in the editions I have) as it only covers the Majors. And it lists three spreads without any indication of what the card positions mean.

Edited by Rodney
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iofthebeholder

to be honest, whatever speculative rationalizations by fiebig and pollack notwithstanding, it seems clearly self evident to me dali for whatever reason did in fact intentionally switch the images and titles on the aforementioned cards. tarot in the RWS tradition has clearly defined canonical images. dali intentionally took some of those highly recognizable images and assigned them to other card titles. why? without dali's own thoughts perhaps we may never know. did he mean to suggest foolishness makes one into a devil? that the world is an intrinsically sorrowful or imprisoning place? that the pursuit of riches is foolish? that there's something glorious in questing after material pleasures? that the sun is the primary force of this world? I don't know, most likely never will know for sure his motivations but to suggest for example dali's knight of coins is not undeniably the traditional sun card shows a tremendous willingness to disregard information we can directly percieve in favor of convoluted theories rationalizing why our perceptions must be in error. he did this. on purpose. can anyone look at this card and disbelieve it? does anyone think he was not fully aware of what he had chosen to do? maybe he was aiming for provocation or to imprint the stamp of his massive ego on the established order of the tarot. who knows?

 

I get the apollo sun god thing too but the traditional world card is the only canonical image missing entirely from this deck unless we look at the image itself and recognize apollo's red sash, the lion in the lower right corner, the human cherubs on a cloud, the sky setting, all visually allude in obvious ways to the traditional symbols of the world card. understood thus the deck becomes complete with every canonical image, none missing, albeit some mysteriously reordered / mis-titled for reasons dali himself never explained.

 

in readings with this deck personally intending to read the devil as the fool, the fool as the knight of coins, the knight of coins as the sun, the sun as the world and the world as the devil. looking at the images themselves in the context of the tarot's visual tradition i see no other choice.

Edited by iofthebeholder
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9 hours ago, iofthebeholder said:

to be honest, whatever speculative rationalizations by fiebig and pollack notwithstanding, it seems clearly self evident to me dali for whatever reason did in fact intentionally switch the images and titles on the aforementioned cards. tarot in the RWS tradition has clearly defined canonical images. dali intentionally took some of those highly recognizable images and assigned them to other card titles.

Your statement assumes a number of things:

  • that Dali actually created the deck as opposed to someone else taking his existing artwork and forcing it into the tarot format and then slapping his name on it
  • that Dali knew enough about the tarot to intentionally (as opposed to accidentally) swap anything
  • if Dali did create all the images specifically as a tarot deck, that he wasn't taking artistic license with the images, which to him would've likely been more art than tarot images regardless of their end use
  • that the deck is supposed to follow the RWS tradition

At the end of the day, each reader needs to do whatever works for them to be able to use this deck. Normally I'd suggest trimming the titles off, but it'll be more difficult to trim the Minors the same size as the Majors.

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Rodney, I think Dali himself did create the deck; from various sources I've found online, it appears that he began work on it as a prop intended for the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die," but when it didn't get used for the movie, he continued working on it anyway and finished it in 1984.

 

Still though, that doesn't prove he knew much about the tarot, or that he knew enough to make deliberate choices about swapping imagery.

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There was a thread on Aeclectic that said he probably did create the Majors but that his companion at the time probably created the Minors. Even if someone had provided him with a script/cheat sheet of imagery that "should" be in each card, he doesn't strike me as the type to religiously follow such a script. And if the deck were designed as a movie prop, then it wouldn't need to follow any type of system at all.

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17 minutes ago, Rodney said:

There was a thread on Aeclectic that said he probably did create the Majors but that his companion at the time probably created the Minors. Even if someone had provided him with a script/cheat sheet of imagery that "should" be in each card, he doesn't strike me as the type to religiously follow such a script. And if the deck were designed as a movie prop, then it wouldn't need to follow any type of system at all.

Ah, thank you for calling my attention to the AT thread. I suspected that there was more to the story than I was finding elsewhere. And you are quite right about movie prop decks -- they often don't follow a clear tarot system.

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iofthebeholder

as previously mentioned another thing i certainly noticed about this deck: Dali obviously "drew inspiration" in a very direct way from the Royal Fez Moroccan deck. the RFM was evidently first published in a limited run of 500 in 1970, later republished in a non-limited US Games edition in 1975. info on the Dali tarot says only that he worked on the project in "the 70s", not finally published until 1982. examining many cards from each deck side by side clearly shows Dali (or whoever might have assisted with the minors) used the RFM as a primary reference creating his imagery, even down to specific details. if another person did assist with the minors it seems clear Dali still had a primary role insofar as the brushwork, the prominent integration of his variable signature as a major component in each composition, and the addition of hand painted primitive figures over collaged elements.

5_cups.jpg

6_swords.jpg

6_wands.jpg

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2_coins.jpg

Edited by iofthebeholder
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