One of the earliest extant Tarot Decks, this deck features heraldic emblems of Ercole I d'Este and his wife, Leonora of Aragon.
Italy, c. 1473
The four living creatures of the Apocalypse and Ezekiel's vision, attributed to the evangelists in Christian symbolism, are grouped about an elliptic garland, as if it were a chain of flowers intended to symbolize all sensible things; within this garland there is the figure of a woman, whom the wind has girt about the loins with a light scarf, and this is all her vesture. She is in the act of dancing, and has a wand in either hand. It is eloquent as an image of the swirl of the sensitive life, of joy attained in the body, of the soul's intoxication in the earthly paradise, but still guarded by the Divine Watchers, as if by the powers and the graces of the Holy Name, Tetragammaton, JVHV--those four ineffable letters which are sometimes attributed to the mystical beasts. Eliphas Levi calls the garland a crown, and reports that the figure represents Truth. Dr. Papus connects it with the Absolute and the realization of the Great Work; for yet others it is a symbol of humanity and the eternal reward of a life that has been spent well. It should be noted that in the four quarters of the garland there are four flowers distinctively marked. According to P. Christian, the garland should be formed of roses, and this is the kind of chain which Eliphas Levi says is less easily broken than a chain of iron. Perhaps by antithesis, but for the same reason, the iron crown of Peter may he more lightly on the heads of sovereign pontiffs than the crown of gold on kings.
Completion, Good Reward
Evil Reward, or Recompense.