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Le Diable - Contrasting the Dodal and Conver

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Le Diable - Contrasting the Dodal and Conver


The Devil is portrayed in many different ways in the Tarot. Le Diable of the TdM has an unusal iconographic treatment. There are differences between the Dodal and the Conver, but when compared to many other decks, they should be noted more for their similarities.

<-- Dodal | Conver -->

The Devil stands on a platform (is that an anvil?), with two "minions" tied to it. On the Dodal, a face appears on the bell, and the knees resemble eyes; these are missing on the Conver. On the conver, the Devil clearly has a penis, and red coloring makes that abundantly clear, it is unclear if the Dodal has a penis or some type of clothing. Both images give the impression of breasts at the top, or maybe those are eyes as well?

While they both have what appear to be bat wings, the shape and size is very different. Conver's lift off ot the back, and there is webbing. Dodal's are much more significant, they go all the way down to the waist. The pattern is simply straight horizontal lines.

On the Dodal the feet of the minons looks as if they are cut off on the bottom, on the Conver they are clearly presented. The Devil's feet are clawlike on the Conver, and less detailed on the Dodal. The hands of the minions are behind their backs.

The torch/pitchfork is difficult to make out in both images. Conver seems to imply a torch by coloring.

One of the oddest features in the "hat". I'm not familiar with other iconography that shows the devil wearing a cap of some sort. Is this unique to the TdM?

I can't tell for sure which way the upraised hand is postioned. Which way does the thumb point? Is the devil holding the palm inward or outward?

Finally, is the devil's tongue sticking out?
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It's a fascinating card especially once the details are looked at.

For example, whereas the body shape of the Dodal can be described as more 'masculine'-like, the curvature of the torso on the Conver has more of a feminine characteristic. I also suspect it is this that leads comments as to whether or not the genitals are part of the Devil figure, or whether they are an attachment with belt-strap.

The feet (or lack of visible ones) of both the Devil and the minions are interesting, as mentioned above by le pendu, in that the Dodal shows these as more 'human'-like when compared to what may be described as talons or clawlike on the Conver. This extands also, interestingly, to the visible hand.

With regards to the genitals on the Dodal, though a little ambiguous, if we also take into account the cognate Payen deck, there remains no doubt that the same is intended on this deck - of note is also the 1747 Chafard, again with similar details:
<- Payen : Chafard ->
What is perhaps also interesting in ALL those three TdMI-type decks is that the left-hand minion has what appears to be only one breast showing - and the differences between left-hand and right-hand minions seemingly more (respectively) masculine and feminine.

In a kind of similar manner, the breasts of the left-hand minion on the Conver is peculiar - with that triple nipple. I have seen triple nipples on only very few early decks, and on the Hurter (circa 1810) it is the Devil's own 'breasts' that are both thus depicted (p 139 Schweizer Spielkarten 2).
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* I think the devil may be wearing a kind-off catsuit, leaving only the arms and the head uncovered. The breasts and penis are part of the suit, thereby masking the sexual identity of the devil while at the same time appointing to the fact that the devil is all about sexuality.

* I think that the 'platform' where the devil is standing on has an eggshape on top, and this may not be a co´ncidence.

* I'm wandering why the Dodal-torch looks like rabbit-ears, which spring from a circle with a dot in it.

* The arms of the devil are clearly very hairy. This may be a link to Lilith. The 'suit' may be the devils way to look less hairy and more human-like.

Quote:
I have seen triple nipples on only very few early decks, and on the Hurter (circa 1810) it is the Devil's own 'breasts' that are both thus depicted (p 139 Schweizer Spielkarten 2).
I don't have that book, but I would love to see a scan of that card!
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The eyes on the Conver Devil are very crossed, to me, giving it a more sinister appearance.

The thing that stands out to me, and I realize it may hvae no significance in these images at all, is the idea of slavery and slave auctions. I have seen depictions of slaves standing on a block like platform, to be sold, and it has a strong similarity to the Devil image.

The torch does look like rabbit ears to me as well.

Is the Devil's tongue sticking out to taunt us? Or is it sticking out to give it a more humorous appearance? I have to say, the tongue makes him seem less scary in my eyes. Goofy in fact.

I will try my best to behave myself with respect to the triple nipple, but that is such a fun phrase to say....

The Dodal Devil looks a bit out of it, and his minions seem to be the more sentient beings in the image, and they almost look as if they are conspiring together, exchanging knowing looks...while their Devil just looks clueless. (the Payen seems similar in this respect, while the Conver does not....and the Chaford is too faded to really make this out)
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It is indeed a fascinating comparison - by comparing all these we can come to our own conclusions although in truth we'll never really know what was originally intended.

I think it is an anvil the Devil stands on and the minions are tied to it. There is a penis whether 'strap-on' or otherwise I'm convinced it would work. The Devil also has breasts, though I'm sure those are eyes for a duck/bird like face too.

For my own rendition I went with the Conver style bat wings, but included the Dodal face on the belly and eyes at the knees. I also went with the Conver minion's feet and the 'triple nipple'.

I think the 'torch' is actually a handle-less sword with feathers tied on the tip. This implement would cut the skin of the bearer as s/he bent to tickle someone.
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I am not as sure as you, Major Tom, that the Devil's penis would work that well. It looks to be quite obviously flaccid, where it is actually shown. This also seems to diminish any menacing quality that the image should have, if it is meant to show a menacing Devil image....what could be more menacing on a Devil than an angry erection?

Also, Major Tom, did you depict the tongue sticking out or is that a very full lower lip? (my eyes are not what they used to be, and I cannot quite make it out from the scan) It must give quite a lot of insight into a card's imagery when you have made one of your own.

Are we meant to see the Devil (from the Marseilles decks) as a scary character or as a silly one?
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I just reread Robert V. O'Neill's iconographic comparison, as always, very helpful to put things into perspective of the times, and help for understanding the images we are discussing in context. I highly recommend a visit to get a grounding in other iconograpy of the Devil at the time. http://www.tarot.com/about-tarot/library/boneill/devil

For instance, he mentions in the Devil iconography, "The trident appears in the earliest examples such as a ninth century psalter but then essentially disappears until the second half of the 14th century. During the intervening period, the devil is shown with a two pronged grapnel."

I'm not sure about the dates, and surely much of the iconography crosses these lines... but I suspect what we are seeing in the devil's hand may be the two pronged grapnel. Here is Jean Noblet Devil:


It should be expected based on what we've experienced with other cards in these comparisons that the Noblet and the Dodal tend to agree, but that sometimes aspects show up in the Noblet and the Conver that aren't in the Dodal.

An instance of this is the feet of the Devil, clearly on the Noblet they are clawed feet like on the Conver. However, the feet of the minion are much harder to understand. Even looking at hi-res images of the area, it's difficult to tell what Noblet intended. Do the feet get cut off like on the Dodal? Are they hoofs instead of claws? Are they hoofs on the blue legs and claws on red?

I have to question the sex of the minons, especially when considering the Noblet. Noblet doesn't seem to have an issue with showing a penis. The Devil has one, as does the Fool. To me, the minions both appear to show a vagina.

The Noblet has the same wings as the Dodal, but there is an interesting added feature on the wings that is not only in the woodcut, but in the coloring as well, the added red circles. I'll come back to this in a later post, but want to point them out now.

I can't tell if the Noblet has a tongue or not, can you? Detail. It looks like maybe the triangle is the tongue and there is a bit of red patch?

Noblet has the face on the belly , and maybe those are also eyes on the knees?

It looks to me as if the upraised hand has the palm pointing out.
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When considering the Tarot de Besanšon, the iconography is obviously related to the Marseille, but there are significant differences.

Here is an image from the TdB by J. B. Benois, 1818, Strasbourg (sold as the Il Mengehello Tarocco Di Besanšon)), and an image from a non TdB by Jean Proche dated 1804, but probably reused mold from an earlier deck by Jacques Rochias (sold as the Il Mengehello Tarocco di Marsiglia (Swiss)).

<-- Benois | Proche -->

On these cards, the Devil is far less human, and much more beastly. Gone are the faces, the eyes, the penis, the breasts. The body is covered with hair. The face is of an animal. The hat is gone. The wings are similar to the Conver, it's hard to describe the feet. I wonder if from the knees down it is supposed to be bird legs??

The Minions have changed position. They face each other now. Their hands are no longer behind their backs. The rope that attaches them to the platform is much more detailed.

It's hard to know for sure but the torch/pitchfork looks more like a torch here, and is probably colored to represent fire.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmd
In a kind of similar manner, the breasts of the left-hand minion on the Conver is peculiar - with that triple nipple. I have seen triple nipples on only very few early decks, and on the Hurter (circa 1810) it is the Devil's own 'breasts' that are both thus depicted (p 139 Schweizer Spielkarten 2).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Minervasaltar
I don't have that book, but I would love to see a scan of that card!
Here ya go!


This card is from an unknown cardmaker (as far as I can translate), probably from around 1810. The deck is typically TdM II.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prudence
The eyes on the Conver Devil are very crossed, to me, giving it a more sinister appearance.

The thing that stands out to me, and I realize it may hvae no significance in these images at all, is the idea of slavery and slave auctions. I have seen depictions of slaves standing on a block like platform, to be sold, and it has a strong similarity to the Devil image.

The torch does look like rabbit ears to me as well.

Is the Devil's tongue sticking out to taunt us? Or is it sticking out to give it a more humorous appearance? I have to say, the tongue makes him seem less scary in my eyes. Goofy in fact.

I will try my best to behave myself with respect to the triple nipple, but that is such a fun phrase to say....

The Dodal Devil looks a bit out of it, and his minions seem to be the more sentient beings in the image, and they almost look as if they are conspiring together, exchanging knowing looks...while their Devil just looks clueless. (the Payen seems similar in this respect, while the Conver does not....and the Chaford is too faded to really make this out)
I think of scenes from the miniseries "Roots", from when I was a kid. But in a way it is reversed. I would expect the slaves to be up on a platform.

I love the devil with his tongue out, and I'll post some more images as well.

As for the triple-nipple... looks to me from the card above that we may need to add quadruple-nipple to the vocabulary and exploration as well, but it isn't really as fun to say!
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