Stultifera Navis Tarot - The Ship of Fools Tarot
A Colorful Rendition of Sebastian Brant’s Classic Satire from 1495
By Ernesto Fazioli, Co-Director of Museo dei Tarocchi
Published by Mutus Liber, Autumn 2017
22 Major Arcana + Title Card
Leaflet: Italian or English (Edited by Arnell Ando)
Card Titles in Italian with Roman Numerals
Card Size: 4" W by 6" L (15 x 10 Cm)
Printed on Textured, Matte Cardstock
Backs: Image of the Fool with the World on His Shoulders (Not Reversible)
Container: Comes in a Wooden Box with Attached Flip Lid
Includes Linen Pouch with Charm on Drawstring Closure
Limited to 100, Numbered Sets, Signed by Ernesto Fazioli
Cost: €. 90. Euro (+ Italian P&H)
*Special Price for U.S. Customers: See Below
Stultifera Navis Tarot, (or Ship of Fools), is a colorful series of twenty-two carefully chosen images that correspond brilliantly with Major Arcana iconography, and which were procured from the historical German classic by Sebastian Brant, from 1495. The moralistic narrative by Brant was a didactic satire warning of a hundred or more follies & pitfalls of human nature. A third of the engravings included in Brant's impressive tome were attributed to Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). The book was madly popular (benefitting greatly from the printing press invented around that time) and translated into multiple languages, becoming the first German international best-seller. This epic poem chronicled fantastic allegorical journeys of hapless fools traveling the world while learning nothing. It was intended to teach us wretched souls more honorable ways to forge through life. You can view the ancient book in its entirety including those infamous etchings.
After thorough research, Ernesto Fazioli spent the better part of spring till autumn of 2017 meticulously coloring the images he’d selected as best suited for this trump themed sojourn. He further perfected each colorful rendering in Photoshop in prep for production, as documented in the accompanying leaflet:
…After much reflection and speculation, I chose 22 engravings that I found to be most relevant to the Major Arcana (both the image and descriptive text). After cleaning up the original designs and coloring the images with pencils, I reworked them on the computer to optimize colors…
Many of you will no doubt recall Brian Williams's 78 card deck & book set, Ship of Fools Tarot, published by Llewellyn in 2002 (around the time of his unfortunate demise). Williams sometimes used the entire image or in many cases, only a portion, while adding in Marseilles and Waite/Smith inspired symbology in order to create his own version of seventy-eight cards and presenting them starkly in black and white. While acknowledging Brian’s impressive contribution, Ernesto went in his own direction, staying true to the original imagery and text, while enhancing his Majors with cheerful colors and a more whimsical tone.
Ironically the strictly religious and pious Brandt Sebastian would have undoubtedly been dismayed with either of these beautiful renderings, as he would not have appreciated his book being related to Tarot. Although on the other hand, perhaps Albrecht Dürer, who'd spent much of his artistic life in Italy and who questioned the role of art in religion in later years, might have appreciated this honor from both of these creative gentlemen.
Fazioli notes in the accompanying leaflet, this satirical work criticized the weaknesses and vices of society through the lens of madness, and also shares: Brant used clever plays on words, such as the title 'ship' (navis in Latin) which could also denote the nave of the church.
The deck comes in an unvarnished wooden box with an attached lid which displays the title card. The handsome set includes a linen pouch with a symbolic charm dangling from the drawstring closure (fate decides which lucky charm). This is a well-researched and beautiful set, made all the more fanciful in color. A few favorite images are shared below as well as the title card and back design. For an example of the text from Ernesto's leaflet, here is the Chariot description, with VII image also shared below:
The Chariot from the 47th chapter:
The path to bliss. A fool drags a wooden cart over flames while trampling flowers. He focusses on his suffering and pain and due to his foolishness, does not notice the natural beauty of creation. He is forced to drag so many burdens in life and yet his cart is empty. He does not need directions to reach the ruins, he arrives there quite naturally. Pride makes man blind and hardly leads to the promised land. The road towards disaster is wide and easy to follow and bares no accountability. On the contrary, the path of common sense is narrow and more difficult to navigate.
Stultifera Navis Tarot is a smart choice for Tarot collectors with a soft spot for the iconic Fool, or a penchant for re-envisioned artwork with medieval lineage (and fans of Albrecht Dürer style etchings). The porous matte cardstock should be handled with care, (as one would art prints). It makes an impressive presentation and is limited to only 100 numbered and signed copies.
Stultifera Navis Tarot
9 Card Examples Shown Below:
1st Row: Title Card, Card Back, II High Priestess
2nd Row: III Empress, V Hierophant, VII Chariot,
3rd Row: VIII Justice, X Wheel of Fortune, XI Strength
4th Row: XVI Tower, Fool, Images from the 1495 Book