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Diana  Diana is offline
Join Date: 01 Jan 2002
Posts: 8,204

Translation of Kris Hadar's reply (original in above post)

I am attaching images from the Dodal, the Conver and my own deck, as well as an image comparing the Cavalier d’Epée to the Conver and the Payen. You may put these images in the archives of your forum for your members.

Here is my response to the questions asked by the member:

Greetings to those who are interested in the Tarot of Marseille that I have restored. I am writing a book on the history of the Tarot of Marseille. As it is a historical book, it is progressing slowly, as I have to constantly verify, word by word, what has been said! I have really discovered the origins of the Tarot and the keys which were used for its construction. You will understand that I reserve its exclusivity in order not to cause problems for the publication of my book.

People wonder where my sources come from, which have allowed me to reconstitute the Tarot of Marseille. Well, here is the story about this deck.

My book in French: “Le Grand Livre du Tarot”, is a best-seller. My editor asked me if I could design my own Kris Hadar deck. Personally, this bothered me, for I could not allow myself to appropriate such a prestigious tradition which is the Tarot of Marseille. I proposed to my editor that I restore the Tarot of Marseille, which he accepted.

The history of the cards may seem complex to those who do not know its roots…. So, for the moment, I will just mention simple facts. Here are some historical facts covering the period between 1594 to 1703:

1594, 31. March. Drafting of the first statutes of the Parisian maîtres-cartiers (master cardmakers), the number of which are eight.

1605, 14 January. The manufacturing of cards is authorised only in the seven cities “where there is mastery and inspection of the said merchandise.”

1609, 9 May. Ruling of the Council, which suspends the paying of duty.

1631, 31 May. The manufacturing of cards is authorised in eleven cities, instead of seven.

1636, 4 April. Declaration of the King, ordering the cardmakers to bring their moulds, models, figures, marks, colours and imprimures (stencils?) to a place that is “clean and practical to work in”, designated by the farmer (translator’s note: I don’t understand this reference to farmers) and provided free of charge by him.

1650, thereabout. . In Paris, development of a characteristic model [pattern], or portrait. The names adopted for the characters [people] are still in use.

1661, September. By letters of patent, the King transfers to the General Hospital of Paris, the benefits of the duties on the cards. In the eleven cities where the manufacture of these are authorised, the moulds and working tools must be transported to a “particular place”, where the cardmakers have to work. The envelopes must carry a verification band bearing the arms of the King.

1671, 1st April. The General Hospital renounces the sterile endowment given to it. The Council lifts the levying of taxes and allows the cardmakers to decorate the envelopes as they wish. The Parisian cardmakers leave the Hotel de Nemours.

1701, 19 October. Reimposition of the taxes, fixed at eighteen deniers. The old moulds must be destroyed. The cardmakers lose the right to carve their moulds.

1703, 17 March. The tax is reduced to twelve deniers. Private individuals can no longer use cards with the old portrait.

The oldest Tarot of Marseille, from the lineage of the “known” Marseille is that of Jean Dodal, Master Cardmaker in Lyon, at the beginning of the 1700s. You will notice that his Tarot is said to date from 1701, which corresponds exactly to the time when orders were given for all the old moulds to be destroyed and to make new ones. Before Dodal…. there was the Parisian tarot, and especially Jean Noblet’s tarot, which would be a 1650 Paris tarot, the tarot of which Jean-Claude Flornoy has restored the 22 Major Arcana. However, despite his excellent work, the Noblet is not part of the tradition of the Marseille tarot. It is a free adaptation of the Italian tarots. And here, I insist in saying that the Italians “copied” the Marseille canon.

As a point of departure, for my restoration, I started out from the principle that if the Master cardmakers had to destroy the old ones to make new ones, they must necessarily have been inspired by the old ones. Consequently, by studying the new tarots, one should find the traces of the old ones.

The oldest, starting from 1700, is the Jean Dodal, Master Cardmaker in Lyon, followed by Jean-Pierre Payen in 1713, Master Cardmaker in Avignon, and the inescapable Nicolas Conver of 1760, which must be said, was the one responsible for the famous appellation: Tarot of Marseille.

One needn’t do much research to discover that Nicolas Conver copied Jean-Pierre Payen. All one needs to do is to look at the Cavalier d’Epée of the Conver and the Payen to see on the horse’s croup the same flowery design. Conver completely redrew the tarot of Marseille and added his own symbols, in which, even if some people do see occult knowledge, have nothing to do with tradition inherited by the Jean Dodal.

Therefore, I studied the Tarot of Jean Dodal in detail and indeed, I found details that revealed ancient structures hidden in the drawing. For instance, the Reine d’Epée. While studying her robe on my computer, I was surprised to notice that the folds hid a staircase. You can verify this: The symbol became evident: a pregnant woman was wanting to descend into her depths… to be reborn.

Another suprising detail: if one observes attentively the Dame de Coupe…. one will notice a small line on the left, next to the cup… which aligns itself perfectly horizontally with the oblique line on the right… to form a bed. Thus, the elements at the top fit in perfectly with a canopied fourposter bed… and not, oh heresy! as in the Conver which makes us think the lady is under a canopy. And because of this, the King of Cups’ meaning is revealed. He is in a boudoir waiting with his open Cup, for his Lady to deign to open the door to her room so as he can offer her his heart.

You will see that my restoration does not depend on fraudulence which entails adding symbols taken from other tarots, but depends on drawing out the original traits of the canon of Marseille. That is how I can justify every correction with facts. When I had no facts, I made no changes….

It is evident that the research I did in order to restore the Tarot of Marseille did not limit itself to Jean Dodal, but also included the tarological tradition that I rediscovered.

If I had to make a new restoration, there would be more changes, due to new discoveries I have made since then.

This having been said, I can now answer the questions the [Aeclectic] member asked:

Even if my drawings preserve the Conver design, my restored Tarot has nothing to do with the Conver which, and in my eyes this is evident, a different Tarot. I will leave it up to Camoin to defend his restoration which is not supported by historical facts. The proof of this is that in 1760, Conver made different moulds and all these moulds do not have the little ball that he has insisted on putting in his Tarot…. especially when one discovers in the Tarot of Jean Dodal, that the lines on the wall where Camoin sees an egg… are in fact old lines of a bench on which the Papess is seated…. and her robe on the bottom left… is in fact the ground which was unfortunately coloured in by Nicolas Conver… and this error has since been reproduced by all those who rely on the Conver, including Camoin.

Now when it comes to the naming of the cards, one must be aware that originally, Tarot cards had no name. Why? Because during the period when Tarot was created, writing was the privilege of the scholars, and was used to write laws and edicts; and even if the first books were beginning to be written, they were more books to be read to other people, than books one read oneself! In fact, the writing on card games began late, round 1600-1700 precisely. One should know, although this may not please the researchers of words… that most of the writing on the cards, for instance, L’Empereup in the Conver, was made by the engravers of the moulds, most of whom were illiterate, and also because before Molière when language started to become structured in some way, and even more in 1800 when French grammar rules were being born, the language in which the Tarot finds it origins, is a phonetic language. In old French, language is used to express a sound… That is why one finds in old texts, different kinds of spelling of the same word. For example: the word “accueillir” [to welcome] was born in 1080, and was spelt amongst others: acueillir, acoillir, acueldre. Consequently, there is no point in wasting one’s time in trying to track down the name designated on the cards… especially when these names were in fact in OCCITAN (Occitania is in the South of France), the place where Tarot was born. In the case of the Empereup of the Conver, it is evident and logical to think that the engraver did not finish the “R” which gives a final “P”.

Thus, the designation of the restored Tarot cards was an attempt to replace the most ancient words possible which designate these cards. Therefore, you need to know that in old French, the words that have an “s”, like hospital, baston, vaslet, isle, etc., were replaced by a little “hat”: the circonflex accent, and became: hôpital, bâton, valet, île, etc. For those who are interested, one can still find the old French in words used today: hospitalier, bastonnade, Isle de Panama, etc.

Concerning the modification of the word CAVALIER… with CHEVALIER, the [Aeclectic] member must know that the word CAVALIER, comes from the word CAVAL. This word is of ITALIAN origin. It means, amongst other things, a mare in heat… The Italian word Caval is translated into French by: Chevalier. The reason this this word was put back on the Tarot cards was to “give back to Cesar what belongs to Cesar”, in other words: using the real words!

Therefore, Bâton has become again the old French Baston, Epées has again become Espee (without an accent), Valet has again become Vaslet, Cavalier has logically become again Chevalier, Roi has become again Roy, Reine has later become Reyne, but originally it was the feminine of Roy, therefore Royne!

Concerning the additions on the 10 of Bastons, you need to know that originally each suit or each series of minors had a card that portrayed its nobility. In the manner of the Chevaliers, there was a name, a heraldic shield [coat of arms], a motto and arms. Therefore, the 2 de Deniers replaces the motto, the 2 de Coupes the coat of arms, the Ace de Epées symbolises the arms… and obviously, it had lost its name (or rank) which one can find in my Tarot by the crowning of the 10 de Bastons which allowed for the name to become a name of renown!

You will agree that there is still a lot to be said about the ground as well as the details. I have one more thing to add: In the Conver, one can say all the ground has become suddenly uniform and a golden colour. Observe the ground on the cards of the Cavaliers in the Payen and the Dodal, and you will see that the ground is a black colour… just like the ground was in the Chariot card! And this symoblism is fundamental, for it indicates that we are progressing…. by working the ground to bring out its riches…. It is by working on oneself that one progresses!

This being said, I can only ask you to look at the ancient Tarots with objectivity and you will be surprised to discover how rich they are with teachings, especially when one knows that the Tarot was made for people who did not know how to read and write… pictures were for them the surest way to share knowledge, because a picture speaks of itself: all one needed was to look, to look well, do see clearly, that is to have clairvoyance, a gift that well-born souls all possess.

Kris Hadar
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