What is this card? What does it mean?
January 24, 2014 10:45 PM   Subscribe

This past December, I went to Union Square in Manhattan, where there is a regular farmers' market and a seasonal Christmas market, the latter of which attracted a lot more people than usual, so there was a teaming mass of humanity to contend with as well. On the pavement, one of them left behind what I first thought, from its larger-than-average-playing card size, and diagonal pattern on the back, to have been a tarot card. However, when I turned it over, it was like no other tarot card I had seen. (I wish I could upload a picture, I scanned it and save it as a .jpg.) It did have a color illustration of a torso of a man who looked like a somewhat gaudy version of Shakespeare but carried a lute. It was not a full-card illustration like the average tarot card but a double-ended one like the court cards in regular playing cards. Instead of any of the well-known regular playing card symbols or the specific tarot card symbolism, this card design has a small black eight-pointed star in each corner. I'm curious about what it is and what it means or if it has some kind of specialized usage/significance. It was in a clear plastic sleeve so I thought it was some sort of collectible item or a sample/display item from one of the merchants, but they weren't selling any other similar cards.
posted by bunky to Religion & Philosophy (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Post the photo on imgur and link to it. Otherwise this will be much harder to answer.
posted by fieldtrip at 10:54 PM on January 24, 2014

This FAQ entry explains briefly how to link to an image you've uploaded to an image-sharing site.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:58 PM on January 24, 2014

Try Googling "Ukrainian playing cards" - is that what you have?

I think these cards are amazing!
posted by aryma at 11:01 PM on January 24, 2014

I did what aryma suggested and found a little blog post by writer Midori Snyder about the artist, Vladislav Erko. Here are some more, including the lute player. Even if aryma hasn't solved the mystery, I really enjoyed getting to see this artwork.
posted by wintersweet at 12:15 AM on January 25, 2014 [9 favorites]

Best answer: Double-sided picture, man playing a lute, stars in each corner -- does it look like this? If yes, here's the related article. The only difference from your description is the number of points on the star, but if it's pretty similar than maybe it's of that type, French tarot cards published by Grimaud, specifically the "fool" card, which is a lute-playing jester. Here is an article about French tarot, which is a trick-taking card game.
posted by Houstonian at 9:21 AM on January 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the help, everyone! With the Ukrainian playing cards, it came pretty close, but not quite. The color usage came closest to Fournier playing cards. However, the last reply was the charm! Except for the number of points on the star, it looks _exactly_ like the French tarot fool/jester which Houstonian describes!
posted by bunky at 5:49 PM on January 25, 2014

Response by poster: So, somewhere, a French tarot reader is not playing with a full deck...
posted by bunky at 5:51 PM on January 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

« Older Where in the world should two best friends go on...   |   What does my body do with the water I drink? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.