Jean Dodal Tarot

Tarot de Marseilles

Jean Dodal Tarot

Re-edited by: Jean-Claude Flornoy, Cartier enlumineur



ISBN #978-2-914820-10-3

The “Tarot of Jean Dodal” (Lyon, 1701/1715) is the latest deck in the French Marseille Tarot tradition to be re-edited by Cartier enlumineur Jean-Claude Flornoy. Previously re-edited was  the “Tarot  Both decks are preserved in the French National Library. There are two existing copies of the “Jean Dodal Tarot” – one preserved in the French National Library, this deck, with the second one  preserved in the British Museum. Flornoy was able to study both decks, making this re-editing especially close to the original.

This is a traditional 78 card deck, with French titles. The suits are Baston, Denier, Epees, and Coupes. The Court cards are Roy, Reine, Chevalier, and Valet.

There is a 48 page companion book that comes with the deck, with both a French and an English translation. The preface is by Enrique Enriquez, a well known figure in the Tarot world with a love for historical decks, and the abiding thought that the Tarot is something that should be lived.

Enriquez notes that the Tarot teaches by example. He feels that the characters glances indicate where we need to look for information or inspiration. From the book:

“ To the left, remembrance,

to the right, l’Avenir,

Those who look straight at

you are seeing the present.

Fill your head with attention.”

“Do what the images do, not

what they say.

Sit passively, stand

receptively and walk


Embody your destination.”

“Duel with the sword, build

with the wand,

offer a cup, plant a coin.

Let the hands show your intention.”

“Forget what is red, and

notice what is red,

stand on a number as you

would on a hill,

strip down to your armor;

for what turns gold into lead

also turns salt into sugar,

what one step fulfills another

could encumber

and what you wears

you down.”

Flornoy notes that the two remaining original Dodal decks (those in the French National Library and the British Museum) were both printed from the same woodblock, an are in approximately the same condition. There is a difference in the chromatic intensity of the colors, and a variation in the pigmentation and ink concentration.

Flornoy also notes that the Ace of Depees, Ace of Batons and the Valet de Batons are by the same hand, but come from a different block. Between the two decks, Flornoy feels that he was able to render a print as close to the original as possible.

We are reminded that the details in these images serve as messages from a master. The images in the “Dodal Tarot” are an expression of the philosophy and the spirituality of the “Compagnons” – the medieval fraternities.,

Included in this imagery is that of the Two of Coins, which declares the deck published by I.Dodali in Lyon, but bears no date. The engravers initials, which are traditionally printed on the Chariot’s shield, are also absent in this deck.

In his notes, Flornoy goes on to talk about the difference between engravers and “cartiers”. or card makers. In the beginning of the 18th century, card makers became somewhat like editors: image merchants and paper salesmen. Starting in 1701, card makers were forbidden from engraving their own woodblocks. All old blocks were destroyed, and new blocks had to be made conforming to new criteria. (All this for taxation purposes!)

The “Dodal Tarot’’ was placed in the hands of Jacques Merme, a specialized engraver and skilled “Compagnon”. It is his mark as a master that he inscribed on IIII – L’Empereur.

Flornoy discuses a few of the cards, and then goes into Tarot history, with the earliest Marseille patterns dating from 1650. He describes the Anglo-Saxon approach to the Tarot as emotion based, and feels that the “Dodal Tarot” renews access to a Western esoteric spirituality over seven centuries old.

The Western source Tarots are presented as carrying the old science of the soul’s evolution through the five stages of its development: childhood, apprenticeship, compagnonnage, mastery, and wisdom. They answer the spiritual question: “How can one achieve illumination during one’s lifetime and melt into “the soul of the world”, while retaining one’s individuality?”

The box that the deck comes in opens at the top. The front side shows and image of LeMonde (The World), while the back shows an image of Le.Fol (The Fool). The top flap carries the credentials and address of Jean-Claude Flornoy. The right hand side of the box carries publishing information in English, the left hand side of the box caries the same information in French.

The cards are 2 3/4” by 5 1/4”. The backs show a black on cream pattern, and are reversible. The card fronts show a 1/4” white border, followed by a thin black border. The Major Arcana show the card number in Roman numerals across the top of the deck, with the card name across the bottom in French. The Court cards show the title and suit across the bottom of the card. The Minor Arcana show icons only, no imagery. No suit name is shown, but the card number shows on the right and left hand side of the card.

There are some interesting things to note, such as the odd numbered sword being straight, while all other swords are curved. All of the Roy’s are looking to the right, while all of the Reine’s are looking to the left (with the exception of the Reine de Baston, who appears to be looking down). All of the Chevalier are mounted, with the Chevalier de Coupe and Epees looking to the left, and the Chevalier de Baston and Denier looking to the right. The Valet de Epees and Coupe are looking to the left, with the Valet de Dinies looking straight ahead, and the Valet de Baston looking to the right.

The art style of this deck is woodblock, and the colors Intense.

This is a very well done deck, and will appeal to those who are interested in  Marseille style Tarot decks, those who are interested in re-edited decks, and those interested in the history of the Tarot.

© December 2009 Bonnie Cehovet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s