Review: Tarot Mucha

mucha-tarotDuring a London visit some months ago, I happened upon the Mucha Tarot, published by Lo Scarabeo and illustrated by Giula F. Massaglia (line artist) and Barbara Nosenzo (colourist). I’d not heard of the set before. At the time, with little samples to check out, I didn’t fancy taking a chance on the unknown, so I passed it up for The Spiral Tarot.

Months later, I began to see interest around this deck growing online. The results were mainly favourable, so when I received an Amazon voucher for Christmas, I tagged it to my order. The delivery took far longer than I’d expected and I waited with great anticipation.

Alfonse Mucha stands out as one of the most important figures within the Art Nouveau movement. It is his decorative posters and advertisements which most people connect him with and which the spirit of this deck centres around. His characters, which were initially used to sell cigarettes and beer, have become goddesses and sirens within this tarot pack.

I usually leave the physical attributes of a deck and its packaging to other reviewers but there are a few things with this particular one worth noting. The most obvious departure from standard Lo Scarabeo decks is the box. Rather than the usual flimsy packet, the Tarot Mucha comes in a strong container with a lift-off lid. Standing upright, it holds the deck and accompanying book inside, keeping them safe from harm. The book is not a pamphlet, but a rich well-produced manual. It’s an attractive set from the get-go.

For those who have bought regularly from Lo Scarabeo, they’ll also notice a difference between the cardstock and that which they have become accustomed to. In the Tarot Mucha, the stock is thicker and has been treated to a stronger lamination. This will please those who continually described this publishers previous stock as ‘flimsy’, but for me, it left some disappointment. Personally, I found the old stock great to handle and the lamination was just right for my purposes. I hated it when U. S. Games replaced a similar stock with plastic-looking overly shiny cards. I really hope that Lo Scarabeo are not heading in the same direction and that this is a feature of just the Mucha set.

Despite this, I will note that these cards are immediately attractive. However, with such attention to detail in packaging, I was quite surprised that the shade of colouring on the backs vary in my copy. Some are recognisably darker. This kind of thing can leave me a little irked before I have laid a single card down. Most readers will want their backs to look uniform, right? In a handful of my cards, the image is not central either.

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This set follows the Rider Waite Pattern closely. Despite representations which are individual to the style and inspiration of Mucha, the meanings are per Waite, so for a RWS reader, there will be no uncomfortable surprises. I am such a reader, but as striking as this set is, Mucha’s style of art can appear emotionless and blank in places. Have you ever met with someone who is beautiful to look at but has little to say? My experience with this deck so far has been a bit like that. There is a great joy in laying these out on the table, but the characters convey less depth than I’d hoped for. As an example, The Hermit does her job. Hers is a beautifully dark and reflective image. However, I get next to nothing from the illustrations for the 8 of Cups or the 9 of Pentacles. 3rd

So, how does this deck read?  Because the characters can be difficult to connect with I suspect that this deck would be more suited to someone who already knows the Rider Waite Smith ‘story’, its joys, and it’s pitfalls, because the meanings might not be so easy to deduce out of the box for a beginner, regardless of how intuitive they are. Many of the images are alike in composition and colour, so in a large spread like the Celtic Cross, they can blur into one and might become confusing; I’d say this could be the case for a reader of any ability. I would like to give a shout-out for the accompanying book though. The descriptions by Lunaea Weatherstone do try their best to connect the reader with the images. The definitions are punchy and thought out.

Regardless of any difficulties I have with this deck, there is something very charming about the Tarot Mucha. I imagine that the images speak better individually than in large groups, so it might be more suited to small and concentrated spreads than large throws, where the cards might get lost in a sea of golden brown. To inspire momentum, I purchased a couple of Mucha journals, which I intend to use in conjunction with the deck. For many, this set will likely be a five-minute-wonder. They’ll buy it because it is talked about a lot at the moment, but will soon pass it aside (like many did with the vacant faces of Lo Scarabeo’s Art Nouveau tarot). For those who want to show a little more commitment, I dare say it could open up with persistence. However, the faces will not seduce you like those in the Hidden Realm or the Mary El. If you are looking for a deck with new layers to strip away and delve beneath within each and every reading, you might be disappointed with this set. But if you love Art Nouveau or are looking for a neutral pack and a system which you are already familiar with, then this offering might be right up your street! Art is subjective, after all.

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Print

Images from Tarot Mucha by Giulia F. Massaglia and Barbara Nosenzo and published by Lo Scarabeo.

© Steven Bright Tiferet Tarot 2015

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16 thoughts on “Review: Tarot Mucha

  1. It is indeed a lovely deck but since I recently tried to cut down on purchasing more decks I have to be very considered with what I put on my wishlist. This isn’t going to be one of them.

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  2. I didn’t realize there was a book with this and that Lunea had written it. She wrote the book for the Mystical Cats deck that I just ordered.

    Having delved into Art Nouveau embroidery history and the history of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites, I see much I enjoy here. I once bought a clip art set of Mucha’s work and relevant fonts.

    I love that Hermit and the 2 of Swords. I also don’t mind the 8 of Cups and the 9 of Pents. What puts me off are the brown, orange, and peach tones. I get a bit nauseated by browns in decks; a true physical reaction. The Strength card is like that for me. The Moon looks like she is sucking her paw like the Bulgy bear in Prince Caspian from the Chronicles of Narnia.

    Interestingly, when I had the LS Heart Tarot out last week, I noticed much disparity in the colouring of the backs, making me wonder about their printing methods.

    Still, if I liked the colours more I would get it but I know it would sit on the shelf (like the old Symbolon deck I had once) because the colour bothers me. It looks good as does the box–like boxes like that.

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    • Lunaea writes well. If you want to know what the card is about in this deck, she tells you. It’s very basic RWS stuff though but would suit someone without that understanding.

      I knew straight away that this would not suit you, with regards to palette. Since you originally mentioned it, I can sympathise and am not keen on decks with those colourings. The Medieval Cats is a bit like that for me.

      I thought that maybe the colour problems was maybe specific to just this copy. Maybe the printing problems run though many LoS sets.

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  3. I hadn’t seen much about this deck, and your review actually tempts me, as the images are beautiful, and I rarely do large spreads anyway 🙂 However, what you say about the card stock, the off-centre images, and the card backs, all puts me off… We’ll see. Thanks for the clear and thoughtful review, Steve 😀

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    • It is a lovely deck in many ways, Chloe. I think many will love it’s refined look and it would be easy for a RWS reader to use.

      I admit that I am sensitive to things being ‘off’. This stuff wouldn’t offend everybody but like yourself, I have had many decks pass through my hands. I notice this kind of stuff.

      I try to make my reviews as honest as possible. There is something wonderful about each and every deck. And everyone is usable, just not always by me. I write the kind of reviews I’d like to pick up before I buy. But don’t let me put you off. It’s a classy set, which I hope to persevere with and use.

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  4. Hello everybody, I’m Barbara Nosenzo, the colorist of Mucha Tarot… Giulia Massaglia did only the pencils! Could you please modify this post so that all credits are correct? It’s important to name correctly all the authors that get involved in this Project, wheter you liked or not… You can find all the credits on Lo scarabeo web site… Thanks a lot!

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