A lot book of 1450 - with 22 elements


The Hare may allude to the constellation Lepus at the feet of Orion. The "Eos(tre) Bunny", if you like. Not having seen this "21", perhaps it is really Pookah. With respect to the luni-solar calendar, Orion is poised roughly 180 degrees from Ophiucus (Serpentarius) - the "13th" House of the Zodiac - where the healer grasps hold of the Serpent. I've gotten the impression that the symbolism is related to the astrological glyphs for Scorpio & Virgo - between whom Ophiucus was poised before Scorpio's pincers were shortened to make way for Libra. The trick is seeing in seeing a Spiral from it's side, silhouetted upon a plane.

Among the luni-solar calendars of antiquity, calibrating the cycles of Sun & Moon was, in a sense, like joining two serpents coiling about the Earth. The formula usually had something to do with the golden mean, much like the 'solution' to the Tarot - but only if you can 'see' how the origins of alphabets & calendars are intertwined. Though, if you can multiply 0.618 with 365, you might appreciate how the Menses Intercalaris, as needed, tended to begin on 2.25


Emperors are often presented in context of Eagles:

This image was found ...


... presented at this webpage ...
... together with the comment ...
Detail from a marble panel from Constantinople, c. 950 CE: an eagle fighting a serpent stands on a hare; some interpret the scene as Christ (eagle) carrying a Christian soul (hare) to Paradise. British Museum

Wiki says to Constantinople: "In the 9th and 10th centuries, Constantinople had a population of between 500,000 and 800,000." So, when this picture "Eagle on Hare" was done, Constantinople had a powerful and strong position ... which it hadn't always.

Further I found this image:



... used by

About Castle Ursino ...
The Ursino Castle is located in the centre of a big square named after Frederick II. Built between 1239 and 1250 the emperor appointed its construction to the architect Riccardo da Lentini, as it is written in a letter dated november 24th 1239 by which the emperor invited the citizens of Catania to pay two hundred ounces of gold, as a contribution to the castle construction. The Catanese people did not like this taxation therefore threatened rebellion.

The Emperor never lived in the castle. Yet, between the end of the XIV century and the beginning of the XV century it became official residence of various kings and their courts, under both the Anjou’s and the Aragonese families. There, Pietro of Aragon held the meeting of the members of the first Sicilian Parliament.

The figure has a rather dominating position, as it seems ...
The entrance is through a pointed archway in the main façade, surmounted by the Swabian coat of arms and an eagle grasping a hare in its talons.
http://pti.regione.sicilia.it/porta...tineraries2/Castles in Sicily/Castello Ursino

Somewhere I read the interpretation, that the eagle stood for Frederick II and the Hare for Catania. But ... this is just an interpretation.

History has this story about Byzanz and Sicily:

The Gothic War took place between the Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. Sicily was the first part of Italy to be taken under general Belisarius who was commissioned by Eastern Emperor Justinian I.[7] Sicily was used as a base for the Byzantines to conquer the rest of Italy, with Naples, Rome, Milan and the Ostrogoth capital Ravenna falling within five years.[8] However, a new Ostrogoth king, Totila, drove down the Italian peninsula, plundering and conquering Sicily in 550. Totila, in turn, was defeated and killed in the Battle of Taginae by the Byzantine general Narses in 552.[8]

When Ravenna fell to the Lombards in the middle of the 6th century, Syracuse became Byzantium's main western outpost. Latin was gradually supplanted by Greek as the national language and the Greek rites of the Eastern Church were adopted.[9]

Byzantine Emperor Constans II decided to move from the capital Constantinople to Syracuse in Sicily in 663, the following year he launched an assault from Sicily against the Lombard Duchy of Benevento, which then occupied most of Southern Italy.[10] The rumours that the capital of the empire was to be moved to Syracuse, along with small raids probably cost Constans his life as he was assassinated in 668.[10] His son Constantine IV succeeded him, a brief usurpation in Sicily by Mezezius being quickly suppressed by the new emperor.
San Giovanni degli Eremiti, red domes showing elements of Arab architecture.

From the late 7th century, Sicily together with Calabria comprised the Byzantine Theme of Sicily.[11]

Muslim period

In 826, Euphemius the commander of the Byzantine fleet of Sicily forced a nun to marry him. Emperor Michael II caught wind of the matter and ordered that general Constantine[clarification needed] end the marriage and cut off Euphemius' nose. Euphemius rose up, killed Constantine and then occupied Syracuse; he in turn was defeated and driven out to North Africa.[12]

There Euphemius requested the help of Ziyadat Allah, the Aghlabid Emir of Tunisia, in regaining the island; an Islamic army of Arabs, Berbers, Moors, Cretan Saracens and Persians was sent.[12] The conquest was a see-saw affair; the local population resisted fiercely and the Arabs suffered considerable dissension and infighting among themselves. It took over a century to complete the conquest (although practically complete by 902, the last Byzantine strongholds held out until 965).[12]

Syrakuse (as above described once a possible capital of the Byzantine Empire) is not very far from Catania and castle Ursino ... about 55 km.

Byzanz and Constantinople were under attack in the time of emperor Constans by the expansion of the Arabs, a few years after his death Constantinople was besieged in 5 following years 674 to 678 and again in 717-718.

In c. 950 (time of the first picture) Constantinople was strong again. In 1239-50, when Castello Ursino was build and (perhaps) the Sicilian figure Eagle with Hare was made, Byzanz had been in a downfall. Venice and some crusaders had taken Constantinople in 1204 and a weak Latin Empire was erected, which had its time till 1261, when it was retaken by Michael VIII. Wiki states: "When Michael VIII captured the city, its population was 35,000 people, but, by the end of his reign, he had succeeded in increasing the population to about 70,000 people." Quite a contrast to 500-800.000 inhabitants during the 9th and 10th centuries.
Western Empire had triumphed against Eastern Empire then. "The Eagle had captured the Hare".


There's a third picture of some interest:


A card from the Tarocco Siciliano and it's the trump No 20, the highest trump of this Tarocchi variant. There's an Eagle, but no Hare.

The motif has a forerunner version, and it looked this way:


There's some agreement, that the second person on the picture presents Ganymed, who was carried by Zeus in the form of an eagle to the Olymp.





Well, it looks, as if this is the Hare.


Well, I don't know, where the idea with Ophiuchus as 13th zodiac sign comes from. Do you, know, what's the origin of this version?
I see in the web, that there are some people having this idea.

... presents some very modern "inventions". That's not my interest. I speak of a German lot book in 15th century, which possibly has older roots.
I think, that I don't desire any confusion between this 13th sign (Ophiuchus) of the zodiac and the other (Corvus), that from the German lot book.

I've also no use for Pookah, which is given as Irish or Celtic folklore figure. Perhaps the simple Easter Hare would do better, at least it might explain, why the Hare in Constantinople in 950 should mean Christ.

For http://tarotforum.net/showpost.php?p=3732464&postcount=9 ...
I think, we discussed this earlier. You have another view on the number 127 than I have, as far I remember.

But I don't know, what this theme should help in this context.


Added to the post before ...

I found lots of coins ...


... presenting an Eagle capturing an Hare. They belonged to the city of Akragas or Agrigentum (Sicily) (5th century BC), which suffered in 406 BC ...



... possibly Fredrick II imitated old coins found on Sicily, when building Castello Ursini and its symbol.

Here's a long list ...
... with coins


A Ganymed mosaic on Sicily of 3rd century BC in Morgantina


Alphabetical Oracular Tables

Lot books were clearly made for divination interests
.... early Trionfi cards not


The system was meanwhile analyzed and partly deciphered. It seems probable, that at least in parts the elements are much older than "1450" ...

A report to a Babylonian lot book system made in 177/178 BCE was discovered (written at a cuneiform table), which uses 17 (of the 22) elements.


So we have here a Tarot-similar object, which - naturally - wasn't printed a as a card deck ... at least there is no evidence.

... .-) ... nonetheless it fulfills a lot of dreams about Tarot. Very old, an important system based on 22, with astrological content.

An interesting reference to lots and the alphabet can be found in
"Greek Divination: A Study of Its Methods and Principles" by
William Reginald Halliday
available at:

The use of lots (dice, straws, stones) for divination may have influenced the creation of the tarot as some of these quotes indicate:

Slightly more elaborate is the oracle of Herakles Buraikos. "Having descended from Bura in the direction of the sea, we come to a river named Buraicus and to a small image of Herakles in a grotto. This image is also named Buraicus, and there is a mode of divination by means of dice and tablet. The person who inquires of the god prays before the image, and after praying he takes four dice, and throws them on the table. There are plenty of dice lying beside the image. Each die has a certain figure marked on it, and the meaning of each figure is explained on the tablet." From Asia Minor we have inscriptions which contain a list of the possible throws and their interpretation. p. 213

In all 56 throws are possible, and of these all except the 12th, though some of them only in fragments, can be obtained from the various stones. - p. 214

Something analogous to these oracular tables are the alphabetical (tables) of Adada and Limyra. They consist of twenty-four self- contained oracular lines each of which begins with a different letter of the alphabet. Evidently by some kleromantic method a letter of the alphabet was selected, and a comparison with the corresponding sentence on the table gave the inquirer his desired response. - p. 215

It is but a slight difference in machinery which distinguishes the Italian, kleromantic oracles. At Caere and Falerii from a bundle of inscribed tablets one was taken out and the writing examined. -p. 216

A certain Numerius Suffustius braved the ridicule of his neighbours in obedience to incessant dreams, and broke into the rock in the place his visions had prescribed. He found in it wooden sortes carved with inscriptions in ancient script. A chest was made for these oracular tablets from the wood of an olive from the stem of which honey miraculously flowed. - p. 216

Seventeen copper plates are in existence, each of which bears the inscription of a line of halting metre often with obvious engraver's errors. -p. 216

Undoubtedly the plates represent a method of divination which was popular in many Italian shrines, even when it fell into disrepute with the learned. -p. 217
Perhaps the systems of using lots for divination is inherent in the 56 card Minor Arcana, which might be compared to "throws". The Greek system of using 24 letters by some kleromantic method could have been adapted to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Lance Carter (Cartomancer)


hi Lance,

there's no doubt, that divination and lot books existed earlier (since very old times, the I-Ching has a proud age of about 3000 years).

Doubts are about the point, if playing cards or Tarot or Trionfi decks were used for divination in the beginning of the playing cards development.
Another German lot book (so-called Maintzer Kartenlosbuch), which used playing cards as an element, is known from Mainz and also from Strassburg in the year 1505. The form of this was very primitive, just 52 pictures (playing cards) with 8-line-poems, which partly were taken from another lot book of the printer Martin Flach in the 1480s, which used birds instead of playing cards. The producer in Strassburg had been a relative of Flach. It was followed by some other lot books with the participation of playing cards, which used similar "humble systems".

Cartomancy in the modern sense, interpreting combinations of cards in complex spreads, wasn't developed till 18th century, as far we can know this.

Lot books were often declared as "games", and games naturally can influence other games, so for instance "unusual card playing decks".
I personally think, that the early Trionfi card development was influenced by the very popular game "Chess", a game, which had long time a direct association to the class of nobility with enough money to produce and pay for expensive decks (early Trionfi cards were expensive decks, the word Tarot didn't exist then).

The Michelino deck (c. 1418-25) was called a ludus triumphorum in 1449, and it had 16 trumps (Greek/Roman gods). Chess had 16 figures, so there's some relation possible. 16 other Greek gods had been used in a Chess allegory of Evrart da Conty before (1398), and there are later examples of an association between Greek/Roman gods and chess figures in Chess literature.
Cessolis around 1300 wrote a popular chess moralization, which identified the 8 pawns as 8 different professions. The same idea was realized between number cards and professions in a playing card deck described by John of Rheinfelden (1387) and in the surviving Hofämterspiel (1455).

There's nothing unusual in the idea, that already existing games influence "new games", which use another medium (in this case "paper").

For the current research situation there exists no direct evidence, that the early Trionfi decks had already "22 trumps". Instead of a confirming "22" or "78" in relevant documents numbers appear like "16" or "14" or "70" (this are only a few disturbing documents, but that's more than a "missing 22"). Most "Trionfi documents" present no structural information, if they have numbers, they mostly report prices or the number of decks, which were produced or traded.

This situation gives early "games", which clearly use the number "22" in their structure, a high attention.



Lot books were often declared as "games", and games naturally can influence other games, so for instance "unusual card playing decks".

There's nothing unusual in the idea, that already existing games influence "new games", which use another medium (in this case "paper").

This situation gives early "games", which clearly use the number "22" in their structure, a high attention.
Hi Huck,

I assume that dice were used with the Lot Books, but not in the manner of the ancient Greeks or divination systems that use 3 dice.
If THREE (3) dice with 6 sides (cubes) are thrown then, there are 56 possible combinations. Shown below is a table showing numbers 1-56, die combinations, and sums:


01: (1,1,1) = 3
02: (1,1,2) = 4
03: (1,1,3) = 5
04: (1,1,4) = 6
05: (1,1,5) = 7
06: (1,1,6) = 8
07: (1,2,2) = 5
08: (1,2,3) = 6
09: (1,2,4) = 7
10: (1,2,5) = 8
11: (1,2,6) = 9
12: (1,3,3) = 7
13: (1,3,4) = 8
14: (1,3,5) = 9
15: (1,3,6) = 10
16: (1,4,4) = 9
17: (1,4,5) = 10
18: (1,4,6) = 11
19: (1,5,5) = 11
20: (1,5,6) = 12
21: (1,6,6) = 13
22: (2,2,2) = 6
23: (2,2,3) = 7
24: (2,2,4) = 8
25: (2,2,5) = 9
26: (2,2,6) = 10
27: (2,3,3) = 8
28: (2,3,4) = 9
29: (2,3,5) = 10
30: (2,3,6) = 11
31: (2,4,4) = 10
32: (2,4,5) = 11
33: (2,4,6) = 12
34: (2,5,5) = 12
35: (2,5,6) = 13
36: (2,6,6) = 14
37: (3,3,3) = 9
38: (3,3,4) = 10
39: (3,3,5) = 11
40: (3,3,6) = 12
41: (3,4,4) = 11
42: (3,4,5) = 12
43: (3,4,6) = 13
44: (3,5,5) = 13
45: (3,5,6) = 14
46: (3,6,6) = 15
47: (4,4,4) = 12
48: (4,4,5) = 13
49: (4,4,6) = 14
50: (4,5,5) = 14
51: (4,5,6) = 15
52: (4,6,6) = 16
53: (5,5,5) = 15
54: (5,5,6) = 16
55: (5,6,6) = 17
56: (6,6,6) = 18

If 2 dice with 6 sides (cubes) are thrown, then there are 21 combinations:
01: (1,1) = 2
02: (1,2) = 3
03: (1,3) = 4
04: (1,4) = 5
05: (1,5) = 6
06: (1,6) = 7
07: (2,2) = 4
08: (2,3) = 5
09: (2,4) = 6
10: (2,5) = 7
11: (2,6) = 8
12: (3,3) = 6
13: (3,4) = 7
14: (3,5) = 8
15: (3,6) = 9
16: (4,4) = 8
17: (4,5) = 9
18: (4,6) = 10
19: (5,5) = 10
20: (5,6) = 11
21: (6,6) = 12

Could dice games have had an influence on early tarot divination systems?
Throwing 2 dice provides 21 combinations, close to the 22 Hebrew letters.
Throwing 3 dice provides 56 combinations, the exact number of the Minor Arcana.
Could the Minor Arcana be pictures of dice throws involving 3 dice?

Lance Carter (Cartomancer)


Hi Huck,

I assume that dice were used with the Lot Books, but not in the manner of the ancient Greeks or divination systems that use 3 dice.
If THREE (3) dice with 6 sides (cubes) are thrown then, there are 56 possible combinations. Shown below is a table showing numbers 1-56, die combinations, and sums:


Could dice games have had an influence on early tarot divination systems?
Throwing 2 dice provides 21 combinations, close to the 22 Hebrew letters.
Throwing 3 dice provides 56 combinations, the exact number of the Minor Arcana.
Could the Minor Arcana be pictures of dice throws involving 3 dice?

Lance Carter (Cartomancer)

It's naturally a well-known fact, that 21 and 56 appear as number of dice throws with 2 or 3 dice. Also it's known, that 21+56 = 77, nearly "78".
It's also known, that dice results were used in lot books - occasionally, not always. Lot book creators were quite creative in their structures and methods to divine, similar to card diviners and their various spreads.

Recently (a few years ago) ....


... a few cards of an old deck appeared, presenting dice results together with a motif.

The motifs (as far they are known) were all chosen from prints of the Schedel'sche Weltchronik (1493), it's a consideration, that the deck possibly was created at a similar time made with the same woodcuts.

With Google keywords "Schedel'sche Weltchronik / Nuremberg Chronicle tarot huck" you find a discussion about the object, if you're interested.

The deck survived not complete, but it seems logical to assume, that all 21 possible dice results were presented on cards. Perhaps there were once in this deck even "small arcana" with 56 dice result with 3 dice.
Then you would have real evidence for the influence of dice game structures on the playing card development.

Perhaps this game was inspired by the popularity of a 78 cards Tarot version ... or the other way around, it inspired Trionfi decks to get finally 78 cards. The deck - possibly - was made in Germany, if so, then it would be a sort of first German Tarot (Trionfi) deck.

Another appearance of the 56 dice results is this ...

Ross translated once from Jean-Marie Lhôte, "Histoire des Jeux de Société" Paris, Flammarion, 1994 pp. 536-537
... about a dice oracle from 11th century using the 3-dice-results structure.

You asked "Could the Minor Arcana be pictures of dice throws involving 3 dice?"

At the above picture you have seen, that one could paint dice results on pictures. On the usual "small arcana" you haven't dice results, but common 4 suits with 14 objects each. So this has a 4x14-structure and nothing else. And the players for their practical use didn't need anything else and were satisfied with this.

Naturally the numbers of the common dice results might have spread the inspiration to make decks, which used the same numbers 56+21+1. That would be a natural jump of an idea in one type of game (dice) to another game (Tarot cards), similar to the idea that decks with 16 trumps were possibly caused by 16 figures used in a chess game.

Unluckily we don't know about that "inspiration". Unluckily we also don't know the person, who made the first deck of this type, with 78 cards.