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Tarocco Siciliano

The Tarocco Siciliano is a tarot deck found in Sicily and is used to play Sicilian tarocchi. It is one of the three traditional tarot decks still used for games in Italy, the others being the more prevalent Tarocco Piemontese and the Tarocco Bolognese. The deck was heavily influenced by the Tarocco Bolognese and the Minchiate. It is also the only tarot deck to use the Spanish variation of the Latin suits of cups, coins, swords, and clubs. It also maintains vestigial features of the extinct Portuguese pattern which died out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Design

Tarot decks were produced in Palermo before 1630. The deck was shortened from 78 cards during the 18th century. The Tarocco Siciliano currently uses 63 cards, one more than the Tarocco Bolognese. Despite this, the pack is sold with one unneeded card, the 1 of Coins, which was used to bear the stamp tax (the only game that uses this 64th card is the four-handed version played in Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto where it ranks as the lowest in the suit of Coins). The plain suit pip cards contains ranks 5 to 10 with the Coins also having a 4.

Unlike the northern Tarocco Piemontese and Bolognese which use Italian suits of ceremonial batons and curved swords, the Siciliano uses Spanish pips of knobbly cudgels and straight swords like other southern Italian decks. The Siciliano depicts these suits like the extinct Portuguese pattern by the intersecting of the swords and clubs. Spanish suits avoid overlapping higher-valued pip cards which the Siciliano does. The Minchiate deck had the same feature.

This deck is known for its distinctly female knaves (donne) that are sometimes referred to as maids. While some decks in southern Italy sometimes include female or androgynous knaves, the Tarocco Siciliano knaves are unambiguously and consistently women. This was a feature found in the Portuguese pattern. Since a Latin tarot deck also includes queens, this is the only traditional playing card deck to include two ranks of women to have survived into the present. The Minchiate deck had half of its knaves female while the Cary-Yale tarot set had three ranks of women per suit.

Some portraits of the trumps borrow from the Minchiate while others are unique or altered, such as the Hanged Man who is now hung by his neck instead of by his foot. The order of the cards is slightly different from other tarot decks. All trumps use corner indices with modern Arabic numerals from 1 to 20 with the exception of Miseria, which ranks below trump 1. Miseria, depicted by a chained beggar, is not an oudler and is worth no points. The face cards and the Fugitive (the Fool) are unnumbered and unlabelled. Unlike other tarot games, the Fugitive cannot lead a trick unless it is the last trick. The deck is single faced and not reversible. Pip cards use centered indices.

The order of trumps from highest to lowest is as follows:

Trump Name of the card Notes
20 Jupiter (Giove) or Judgement (Giudizio) Jupiter instead of an angel casting judgement
19 Atlas (Atlante) or the World (Mondo) Atlas supporting the globe
18 Sun (Sole) Two men fighting under the sun
17 Moon (Luna) A couple under the moon
16 Star (Stella) Horseman under a star like in the Minchiate
15 Tower (Torre) Tower is intact, no disaster
14 Ship (Nave) From Minchiate trump XXI
13 Death (Morte)
12 Hermit (Eremita) or Time (Tempo)
11 Hanged Man (Appeso) Hanged from the neck
10 Wheel (Ruota)
9 Chariot (Carro)
8 Love (Amore)
7 Justice (Giustizia)
6 Strength (Forza)
5 Temperance (Tempranza)
4 Constancy (Constanza) Unique to this deck
3 Emperor (Imperator)
2 Empress (Imperatrice)
1 Magician (Bagatto) or the Young Men (Picciotti) Picciotti refers to the mafia
(0) Destitution (Miseria) or Poverty (Poverta) Unique to this deck, only one with a caption

Trumps 1, 20, and the Fool are worth 10 points. Trumps 16 to 19 and kings are worth 5 points. Queens, knights, and maids are worth 4, 3, and 2 respectively.

Tarot decks are often just expanded versions of local standard decks but this deck is not related to the standard 40 card Sicilian pack which originates from the 19th century. Their cards are not interchangeable.

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