The Encyclopedia of Tarot Volume IV – Stuart Kaplan and Jean Huets
“Tarotists are as diverse in style, personality, background, and appearance as the characters on the cards themselves. At the same time, we are drawn together by a common interest. We gravitate to each other, in person and on-line: collectors, scholars, art historians, occultists, business people, artists and fortunetellers who read the cards. The pages of the Encyclopedia are a gallery of the people of tarot, living and long-dead, as much as they are a gallery of tarot cards.” – From the book

Featuring artwork from 850 tarot decks and reproductions of more than 11,000 different tarot cards from the 20th century, Volume IV is the largest installment of the Encyclopedia of Tarot which was created by Stuart Kaplan, founder of U.S. Games. From Celtic Revival to Japanese manga, Native American lore to teddy bears, Volume IV explores these themes and much more. In addition, this volume further investigates the Western esoteric tradition of tarot, including Egyptian, Masonic, Kabbalistic, and Christian symbolism, as well as New Age values.

The Encyclopedia of Tarot Volume IV incorporates both unpublished and published tarot decks from a vast array of media such as computer graphics, watercolors, engravings, wood, textiles, oil paints and more. Unfortunately, the full-color, glossy pictures of this volume span only eight pages with the rest of the card images depicted in black and white. The artists’ personal commentary on the decks is often provided, helping to illuminate interpretation and philosophy of their work.

Some of the fascinating tarot decks displayed in Volume IV include:

Tarocchi di Robot (Tarot of the Robot) by Massimo Borreli (1987)
Roots of Asia by Amnart Klanpracher (2001)
Vertigo Tarot by Dave McKean based on the DC Comics series (1995 and 2001)
Magic Story of Misa Tarot by Misa no Mahou Monogatari (1998)
Ramses: Tarot of Eternity by Giordano Berti and Severino Baldi (2003)
Full Moon Dreams by Lunaea Weatherstone (1998)
Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert (2002)
Hanslian Tarot by Alois Hanslian (1998)
Cosmic Tribe Tarot by Stevee Postman (1998)
Stained Glass Tarot by Laurie Amato (1999)
PoMo Tarot by Brian Williams (1994)
Hudes Tarot by Susan Hudes (1995)
Animal-Wise Tarot by Ted Andrews (1999)
Maat Tarot by Julia Cuccia-Watts (2002)

Several decks listed under “Unpublished” are now published. For example, Zach Wong’s Adflatus deck (2000)—published as Revelations Tarot—is featured in Volume IV as is Amy Erickson’s New Millennium Tarot (1999) which is now known as Tarot of the Four Elements (text by Isha Lerner).

Special features in Volume IV of the Encyclopedia of Tarot include:

Tarock packs (Tarot decks used only for gaming)
Annotated bibliography of more than 1,500 books and articles dating from the 18th century to present
The “Ancient Egyptian Temple”, a pictorial history of decks based on ancient Egyptian symbolism
100 Japanese decks with many based on popular manga and anime characters
Cataloguing of decks by themes (e.g. animals, Celtic, Goth) as well as illustrative technique (e.g. photography, collage, computer graphics)
The essay “Does Tarot Work?” by Allen Stairs

At 802 pages, The Encyclopedia of Tarot Volume IV is a visual feast for Tarot enthusiasts. I found a few typos so far, but these errors don’t eclipse the main reason I bought this book: to see Tarot images from hundreds of decks for comparison and pure aesthetic enjoyment. If you’re the type of person that loves viewing Tarot cards online, often drooling at what you see, you’ll be thrilled at having thousands of images at your fingertips.

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