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Tarot of Prague Cafe Club - Strength

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Tarot of Prague Cafe Club - Strength


I decided to have a really good look at this card because I just keep pulling it at the moment. It is my zodiac card as well (I'm a Leo), so here goes.

This lion is subdued but there is very little effort on the part of the woman, she is not even looking at what she is doing. I always think of Beauty and Beast when I look at the Strength, card, especially in this deck. Absolute, unconditional love! She can do what she wants with this animal and it will be completely under her thumb. But we know the Lion can be ferocious and I think he demonstrates strength too by not retaliating, by completely surrendering himself to her.

This card is about mind over matter. She knows what has to be achieved and does so with complete calmness and patience. I like the monochromatic image in the background which shows a more physical taming of the beast. The wall shows a boundary too, which is important because there is only so far you can go! I think it is important to remember that the lion can turn the tables if he so wishes.

The control demonstrated comes from within, it shows will-power and self control. It shows that she can reconcile her inner conflicts, her masculine and feminine sides and redirect that energy elsewhere. This card demonstrates, more than many, the power of thought. It shows that beauty comes from controlling your inner conflicts and taming your personality. A great card.

J
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The woman in this card reminds me a bit of Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge – there’s something of that era about the way she’s dressed. I like her gentle expression and the ease with which she opens the lion’s mouth. Over her shoulder we see a monochrome study of Hercules also opening a lion’s mouth. We see this double depiction, or shadow depiction of the scene in other ToP Majors, (e.g. the Empress and the Emperor). In this case I find myself comparing and contrasting the two scenes. Hercules seems to represent a masculine, ‘yang’ kind of Strength. Is there a teensy little bit of the show-off about him? A hint of pride in the way he’s glancing out at us – look at me, look what I can do. The woman’s expression is more abstract and her opening of the lion’s mouth looks effortless, almost as if, in fact, it has simply opened for her. The lemniscate (is that what you call it?) over her head seems to suggest that she’s in tune with the workings of the Universe, and her strength seems to be an inner strength, a skilled and effortless mastery of her own thoughts and feelings, probably from long practice – in the book, Karen says that the older word ‘Fortitude’ better conveys the meaning of the card, something which threw a lot of light on it for me. This woman has applied herself with courage and perseverance, and now we see the culmination of this in the astonishing and dramatic feat she performs with such grace and panache.
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A very striking card


This is one of my favorite cards from the deck. I chose this card to use as the subject for a deep-relief wood carving which I mounted on the book-shaped box that I keep my deck in. What attracted me most was the striking colors of her dress and the contrasting black, the large flowers pinned to her dress and in her hair. Overall, the color of her clothes, her complexion and the lion are all linked in a warm range of oranges and golds.

The warmth and cheerfulness of this scene highlights the harmony and balance in her relationship with the lion and her ability to convey her strength by being the very inspiration of her environment. Although the women-and-lion motif is familiar in tarot, this card is superb. Dave.
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For Karen


For Karen
Attached is a photo of the carving I did for the Prague Strength card which you requested. I will send a second photo in another posting. As you may be able to tell, the dress colors add a sense of confusion (to me) when recreating this figure in the round. I intend to re-carve the figure to better detail some aspects of it, but I would like to resolve how I will interprete the dress and colors before starting. Thank you for any comments. Dave.
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Another for Karen


Another photo for Karen
Attached is a second photo taken from an above/right angle. Dave
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This helps a lot thanks - I understand better now what you mean. So, the dress is a kind of beige with black and red pattern on it - under her left arm this shades to pure black. This is rather as it was in one of the original prints (as I said, the picture is based on three pieces by Mucha). I think this shading to black is done as a graphic device - to offset the pink fabric draped on her right shoulder.

The pink fabric is, as I've just suggested, a drape. It is not really part of the dress.

Of course the real issue is that you are making a very flat graphic (essentially Mucha's figures are very flat - it's part of his style in a way) into a 3-dimensional form - but the original drawing does not "add up" in this way when you really examine it. VERY interesting!

I do love the fact that you're doing this - and it seems very appropriate (if difficult) as of course the original lion is a wood carving.

So - as some help, I hope, here is one of the inspirations behind this card:

http://www.poema.art.pl/site/itm_2537.html

I am having trouble finding the figure with long red hair who was originally wearing a dress like this. She is not one of Mucha's most popular images. I will keep looking. We have a copy of the image but have long since archived it.
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This was somewhat influential too, but we found her rather "girly" for strength. But you can see the very distinctive long red hair on this picture.

http://www.artrenewal.org/images/art...1896_panel.jpg

Now - to find a link to that dress...
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Ah ha! Found her.

(By the way, it is Sarah Bernhart).

http://www.artrenewal.org/images/art...1896_panel.jpg

I'm not sure if it exactly helps. We took the black part of the draping and effectively made it part of the dress (as I say, this black is used in the original to contrast with the pink draping, but we emphasised it as a way of throwing the lion into more relief).
The dress may be easier to "follow" in this original, but the way we changed it made for a more graphic image in combination with the lion (which otherwise was visually "lost' in the folds of fabric).

You'll see that we also did a lot of work on the arms and shoulder (that shoulder! It somehow took a while and caused a lot of debate) to make them sharper and - well - stronger.
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A very big thank you.


Your three photos and comments will certainly help me adjust my approach to carving this fascinating card figure. Yes, I can see how using the black portion of the gown would help provide a nice contrast to the lion. The black intensifies the dress, scarf, skin and lion colorations. I can see from the photos that the dress colors were similar in a their relative contrasts.

I'm not sure at this point whether to 1) do away with the right shoulder scarf, 2) drape it over a wrist so as to show a color gradation from black to light pink (using the dress-flowers to link the surface coloration change, 3) make the whole dress black and use the right-shoulder scarf to limit the amount of black and keep an overall sense of pinks and light colors, or 4) let the scarf blow to the side and hide that part of the dress -- thus avoiding the eye-color-surface conlict that I see in the dimensional version of the card-figure. I'll do some sketches first.

Thanks again. Dave.
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You're very welcome. The whole process of seeing this card come to life in a different medium is very exciting to us.

I think any of the options you suggest would still be true to the spirit of the card. After all, we did alter Mucha a lot ourselves to get the "feel" we were looking for, so if you need to similarly adapt our flat graphic, I think that what you do may in fact be more true to the impact of the image than a straight copy would be.

Look forward to seeing more.
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