In the twentieth century, tarot has undergone a surge of popularity, moving from out-of-the-way antiquarian and occult shops to mainstream bookstores. A game, a work of art, a set of symbols for meditation, tarot has meaning for people of all cultures, occupations and interests.
Volume III details the world of tarot in the twentieth century with photographs of cards published, unpublished, and out of print. Artists from all over the world, from Japan to France to Denmark to the United States have contributed to the volume. The tarot decks illustrated offer a fascinating array of ideals, artistic quests, political statements, cultures, symbolism - from Jungian archetypes to esoteric codes, mythology and more.
The most popular tarot deck of the twentieth century is the Rider-Waite Tarot. Anyone interested in the deck will find their understanding of it enhanced by a knowledge of its background and of the influences that gave rise to its creation. Volume III devotes a chapter to the life of the Rider-Waite artist, Pamela Colman Smith. The artist's milieu is fascinating; visitors toher studio included Edward Gordon Craig, William Butler Yeats, Arthur Ransome, Florence Farr and Ellen Terry. A.E. Waite, who commisioned the deck, and Smith were members of the occult society, the order of the Golden Dawn. However, the Rider-Waite Tarot did not come only from Smith's involvement with the order. The deck was a natural continuation of the visions that smith saw and painted while listening to music. Smith's experience in theater, set design and costume also formed the deck, as did such diverse interests as the Celtic Revival. Japanes art, book illustration, children's literature and puppet theater.
Cards from more than 400 decks not readily available to the public are illustrated in Volume III. Artists have chosen many different media to express the themes of the tarot, including weawing, batik, ceramics, woodcarving, enameling and silkscreen, not to mention watercolors, oil paints, engraving and colored pencil. Free of the constraints of producing for a mass market, the art in the chapter of not readily available decks truly shows that tarot can be applied to any theme. In the text that accompanies the illustrations, the artists are often quoted so that their intensions illuminate their work.
Readily available decks have become more and more numerous in the twentieth century. Decks with themes such as Native American lore and Renaissance allegory have emerged, and are illustrated and described in the Volume III. From the delicate beauty of the Ukiyoe Tarot to the esoteric and instructive Tree of Life Tarot, readily available decks offer much to please the eye and the mind.
Tarock decks remain popular in Europe, and cards from several decks are shown. Some are like charming picture books, showing the theater troupe the Com/edie-Francaise and the folk costumes and customs of France.
Over one hundred books arelisted with page numbers referring to the books' description of each Major Arcana card.
The annotated bibliography comprises more than 200 books and articles not found in the bibliographies af volumes I and II. Sources date from the eighteenth century to the present and deal with all aspects of tarot cards and the history of playing cards as an art form.
Each volume of The Encyclopedia of Tarot is complete in itself, while the entire subject of tarot is covered in great depth and details in all the volumes.
Stuart R. Kaplan is considered the leading authority on tarot card symbolism. He is president of U.S. Games Systems, Inc. (Stamford CT), the largest publisher of tarot decks and related books and games. The Stuart and Marilyn R. Kaplan Playing Card Collection is one of the most extensive private collections of tarot decks and books.