Like many pieces of occult iconography, the origins of Tarot cards are murky. Legends tell of the cards' origins stretching back to the ancient Egyptians, but in reality, they began in 15th-century Italy. It would take another few centuries for Tarot to evolve from a playing card deck to its more familiar form as a fortune-telling device accompanied by elaborate, and sometimes macabre, artwork.
That's a bit of the history you can expect to find in Tarot, a new book from TASCHEN coming out on August 29. Written by author Jessica Hundley, with additional writing by Johannes Fiebig and Marcella Kroll, Tarot tells the story of the mystical cards through historical tidbits and stunning imagery. The 520-page book features more than 500 pictures showing the 78 classic Tarot cards in their various iterations throughout the years. Symbols and deeper meanings are explored for each, along with a look at how different cultures around the globe have interpreted the cards.
Even skeptics can appreciate the artistry that's gone into these artifacts. The cards have been used as a canvas by Medieval artists as well as contemporary painters like Salvador Dalí and Niki de Saint Phalle. You can see a few examples of the cards highlighted in the book below.
Tarot is the inaugural volume in "Library of Esoterica," a new series from TASCHEN exploring "the creative ways we strive to connect to the divine." You can preorder it now from Amazon or the TASCHEN store for $40.