The controversial Tarot

Tarot is a European creation. The earliest documented references were found in the Italian city of Ferrara and date from 1442. The oldest example of a tarot deck currently in existence was produced in Milan, and is thought to have been manufactured in 1441. The first recorded references to the existence of playing cards in Europe date from a little over 60 years earlier.

The Europeans added 22 cards to the composition of the pioneering European card games which were already popular in northern Italy. These cards used images with popular iconography typical of the era, the allegories of which were extensively used in book illustration and architectural ornamentation. The function of these additional cards (known as trump cards) is to prevail over any normal card played in the same hand, in each round of trump card games – a class of games whose structure is the same as the current game of bridge, following the format of the original games played by the Mamluks.