Daily Draw July 29th, 2011
I was on patrol yesterday schmoozing around tarot blogs and I always get excited to go through my own collection after that. I have 58 playing cards in my collection and thought I’d have a meander with the Queen of Spades. I generally avoided some of the tourist and themed decks and just pulled interesting characters and faces.
Then we have the forthright South Sea Bubble cards:
A certain L__d, whose fortune ‘twas to loose,
Pull’d a ______ Director by the Nose,
Sirrah, quoth Honour, thus I Lug your Snout
Because you made me Buy, when you Sold out.
A lovely bird of China, a Chinese brush painting of Spring on the Li River, and Simon Drew’s Preposterous Playing Cards and a pride of lions exhibiting prejudice. Humorous cards and nature.
The Li or Lijiang river in the province of Kwangsi (now known as Guangxi) stretches for 100 kilometers of some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. The bird depicted on the other card is elusive, so I’ve asked an online group to help me and I’ll update when I find out what it is.
Update: The bird is from South America and is called Chauna chavaria or Northern Screamer. Screamers are somewhat related to ducks, but their own species and only found in South America. They are large birds of about 35 inches and have spurs on their wings for territorial fighting. The Northern Screamer, unlike the other two screamers, is near threatened–the old story of human agriculture and habitat destruction. They apparently are not eaten by humans because they have spongy flesh full of air sacs that are unpalatable.
The last group is a full cast of characters:
Lumière – Liberté de la Presse
Constance d’Arles – ( -1032)
Dokouz-Katoun Princesse Mongole
Pallas (or Athena or Minerva as she is called too) is often shown on the Queen of spades in decks, at least French ones.
The deck of the French Revolution changed all the Kings and Queens in an act of political correctness. Lumière means “light” in French, and Paris during the time was sometimes called La Lumière du Monde (light of the Earth), although in general this idea of enlightenment and light was prevalent in the decades before the Revolution. The bottom of the card specifies Liberté de la Presse (Freedom of the Press.)
Hildegarde (of Swabia) from the Dames de France card deck was a Frankish Queen and the second wife of Charlemagne, whom he married in 771.
Constance d’Arles, shown on the Jeu Roman card in a detail from a 14th century manuscript, was the third wife of King Robert II of France. She was a bit of a plotter, common in the 11th century, always angling for her sons to take over the throne, and then she fell out with them too. She wasn’t trustworthy for anyone seemingly—I think she was given the wrong name as she was not a constant person.
The Mongolian princess on the Cards of the Crusades was harder to track down to a specific person.
Around 1220 the European crusaders hooked up with the Mongols (who had an Eastern Christian influence in their court) to attack the Muslim empires, a common enemy regardless of any strict adherence of Mongolians to Christianity. Over ensuing decades they tried to consolidate their forces but logistics were a bit difficult and then the Mongols started to fall apart due to battles over the succession of Genghis Khan.
Ah here we go…the Princess Dokouz-Katoun (a.k.a. Dokuz-Khatun) was the wife of Hulagu Khan (a grandson of Genghis) in 1257-8 when Baghdad was conquered by this Mongol leader. Muslims were slaughtered and the city left in ruins, but she intervened to save some of the Christian population. She came from a sect called the Keraits, one of the Mongol tribes who converted to Nestorian Christianity, and thus she was protective of Christians. It is said that Hulagu moved his camp, due to the stench of decay from the ruined city; they killed tens of thousands, perhaps as many as 200,000 people or more.
After that, dear Anne Boleyn on the Tudor Rose pack reminds me that there are worse ways to die than a Frenchman’s axe.
And that’s my ramble through the Queen of Spades.