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The Marseilles Lexicon

The Marseilles Lexicon

by Mark Filipas


Each pictorial element of the Marseilles trumps is listed below in English and in Hebrew(1).

This list is based upon the Hebrew lexicon as it existed at the time of the early Tarot. Words highlighted in magenta denote words that are known to have existed in Medieval and Renaissance sources and are identified as such by Jastrow’s and/or Grossman’s Dictionaries(2). Words highlighted in bold are also from those sources and denote explicit similarities between the literal meaning of that letter’s name (or derivatives thereof) and the corresponding trump image.

Aleph

Jugglery, Magic tricks — AChYZTh OYNIM

Bench — ATzTBH

Thin tube (in his hand) — ABVB

Cup — ANBG, ANPQ

Coin — AGVRH, ADVM, AYSR, ASThRA, ARGRVN

Balls — ASQRYTY

Cylinder — ATzTVNH

Knife, Dagger — AVGRTh, ARRN

Purse, Pouch, Wallet — AVDYA, ARNQ, APVNDH, APSThYP

Fringe (on the pouch) — AVMRYTh, AYMRH

Hat — APYLYVN, APYLYVTh

Brim — AVGN, AGN

Festive suit — ASTLYTh

Waistband, Belt — ABNT, AZVRH

Cloth shoes — AMPLYA

Young shoots of a plant — AB

Bet

Sibyl, Seer — BDQ, BOLH, BOL HZYH, BTh QVL

Reader of the Scriptures — BOL QRYAH

Temple — BYTh

Temple veil, Curtain — BNYThA

Headdress — BYYKA, BRTzVTz

Priest’s cloak — BGDY KHNH

Pinafore — BTNVN

Book — (transliteration not yet found in Hebrew sources) BYBLVS

Words suggesting a possible allusion to Pope Joan:

Virgin — BThVLH

Sexual intercourse — BYTh (euphanism), BOYLH

One no longer a virgin — BOL

Pregnancy — BTN, BYTNThA

Swollen belly — BVTNA

Shame — BVSh, BYHVThA

Gimel

Queen — GBYRH

Ball-shaped knob on cane — GLH

Globe — GLVBVS

Bird of prey, Falcon — GZ, GS

Gear wheel (around her neck) — GLGL

Wing (object at her waist?) — GDPA, GP

Bowl-shaped capital of pillar (object at her waist?) — GLH

Rounded peaks, Unhewn stones — GBVShYM, GBNVN

Dalet

Duke — DVKVS, DVRA, DVS

Profile — DYVQN

Beard — DQN

Crown — DYR

Wreath, Laurel — DVR, DPNH

Carrying pole, Standard — DGLA

Rostrum — DVKN

Bird of prey, Kite — DAH, DYH

Cloth shoes — DRDSA

Grass, Sprouts — DYThAH, DQYThA, DShA

He

Pontiff — HGMVN

Faith — HAMNH, HBTChH, HYMNV

Temple — HYKL

Consecration — HQDSh, HThQDShVTh

Crown, Headress — HDR

Divided into thirds — HShThLSh

Clasp (around neck) — HDQ

Bishops (chess pieces, the two figures) — HGMVN

Baldness — HQRChH

Vav

Love — VDO

Confession of love — VDVY AHBH

Marriage — VGVHY

Couple — VGVHY

Elder — VThYQ

Palm leaf (matron’s headdress) — VBA

To point (all three figures are pointing) — VDY

Wooden poker (arrow) — VDY

Hook (arrowhead) — VV

Zayin

Triumph — ZKH, ZKY

Military Guard — ZQYP

Crown — ZR, ZVR, ZYR

Moon — ZHRA

Armor, Cuirass — ZYN, ZVNY, ZRDA

Jewel in breastplate — ZVZYN

Rod of an officer — ZMVRH

War Horses — ZRZYR

One with unequal pair of eyes or eyebrows — ZGDVM, ZGDN

Cut off tail-end — ZNB

Horse’s bit — ZMM, ZMVM

Spokes — ZRVO

Scaffolding, Pole — ZQYPA

Silks used for canopies — ZHVRYVTh

Seed, Grain (on the ground) — ZVN, ZYR, ZRO, ZKR

Young shoots of a plant — ZRD

Chet

Judgment, Verdict — ChYThVK, ChLT

Judge — ChKTh

Sword — ChRB

Eye of a needle — ChRYR, ChRR

Thread — ChVT

To weigh — ChShB

Sun (symbol on headdress)— ChMH, ChRS

Screen partition — ChYTz, ChYTzH

Rope around the neck — ChNQA

Young shoots of a plant — ChLP

Tet

Time — (transliteration not yet found in Hebrew sources) TMPV

Elder — TB, TVB

Prayer cloak, Cloak — TRYGVN, TLYTh

Head cover — TRTYN

To lift up — TLA, TLY

To shine — TVP

Rod — TLTL

Three-legged — TRSQL

Yud

Iynx (oracular wheel of fortune) — YNQS

To turn — YTzR

To ascend, Rise to power — YRSh

To prevail, To have power — YKL

To descend, To become poor — YRD

Creature — YTzVR, YLYLA

Handle — YD, YDYTh

Axle — YD

Base — YSD, YSVDH

Peg — YThD

Sea — YM

Kaph

Strength — KCh, KChYVTh, KP

To restrain, subdue — KBSh

Crown — KVThRTh, KLYL, KRBLTh, KThR

Bonnet — KMThH

Cape — KLNYDYYA, KRVBThA

Gown with wide sleeves — KNDA

Cinched, Tied up — KRCh, KRK

Tight sleeves — KYRVMNYQYA

Lion — KPYR

Dog, Wild dog — KLB, KVPRY

Teeth — KKA

Lamed

Informant — LChSh, LYTYRYN

Thief — LYSTA

Capture, Snare — LKD

Punishment — LQVTh

Attached to — LVA, LVBD, LVY, LMD, LPP, LThA

Strapped up — LBVB

Sidepost — LChY

Two posts supporting a beam — LVLB

Tongue of flame (the lopped branches) — LHBH

Board, Plank — LVCh

Mortised boards — LMVD, LYMVDYM

Athwart, Across from side to side — LVKSN

Bound, Tied — LGTV

Noose, Loop — LVLAH, LVLY, LLAH, LPTh

Downwards — LMTH, LRO

Tunic — LSVTH

Moon (crescents on tunic)— LBNH

Sprout — LVLB

Mem

Death — MVTh, MYThH, MMVTh

Corpse — MYTh, MTh

Reaper — MQTzRH

Scythe — MGL

King — MLK

Queen — MLKH

Head — MVCh

Crown — MKLLThA

Metacarpus (hand) — MThVK HYD

Metatarsus (foot) — MThVK HRGL

Threshing — MDYShH

Lawn, Turf — MDShAH

Nun

Temperance, To be tempered — NZYRH, NPShR, NThChSM

Continuous pouring from vessel to vessel — NTzVQ

Flowing water — NVB, NVZLYM, NZL

To pour out — NGR, NSK, NThK

To fill up — NTP

Vessel — NBGA, NBL, NGVDA, NChShTh, NTLA,

Feathers, Plumage — NTzH

Flower, Blossom — NTz

Sprouts — NBYH

Samech

Satan — STN

Thorny twigs — SVGYYNA, SYGA, SYLThA, SKK

Polished metal helmet — SNVVRThA, SNVARThH

Cross-eyed — SKY

Fins (of a fish) — SNPYR

Muffler (around neck) — SVDR

Marked with red paint — SQRThA, SRT, SRQ

To support, Prop — SMK

Ring for attaching yoke — SVMK

Rope of a yoke — SMVYN

To attach, To tie together — SVM

Tied up — SMYVTh

Blade — SKYN

Anvil — SDN

Eunuch — SRYS

Castration — SRS, SYRVS

Fence — SGYA, SHR, SVGH, SChR, SYG

Ayin

Flash of light — ODY

Fortification — OYR

Ruin, Destroyed place — OY, OZVBH

Evil eye — OYN

Crown — OTRH

Upper story — OLY, OLYH

Attacked by fire — OYKVL

To Detach, To tear loose — OQR

Brickwork — OTRH

Soot, Smoke, Debris — OPR, OShN

Foundation of building — OVMQA

Grass — OShB

Peh

Pleiades — PLYDVTh

Paradise — PRDS

Lights — PVTA

Tree — PLVMRYH, PRSQ

Bird — PVRYThH, PYRVZ, PRChThA, PRYGA, PRYDH, PShVShA

Nakedness — PYOVR, PRM, PShT

Navel — PRThA

Orifice of the womb — PH, PVThH

Bank of a Stream — PH

Stream, Spring — PYGY, PLG

Open vessels — PH

Vessel, Jar — PK, PTYS, PYTVS, PYQTNY, PThRA

To disperse — PVTz, PZR, PYZVR, PYLVG, PYS, PLG

Parthenos, the Virgin — PRThNVS

— possible allusion of the two vessels to the rivers of Paradise —

The river Pishon — PYShVN

The river Euphrates — PRTh

Tzaddi

Conjunction (of sun and moon) — TzRVP

Heavenly bodies — TzBA HShMYM

To eclipse — TzAL, TzLL

Great Darkness, Deep Shadow — TzLMVTh

To make desolate (implication of an eclipse) — TzDY

Hyenas — TzBVOYM

Baying at the Moon— TzOQ HY VQYM

Droplets — TzChTzVCh

Thirst — TzChYA, TzMA

Pincers, Pair of tongs — TzBTh, TzNVRTh

Water — TzNYM, TzNYNYM

To be Submerged — TzLL

To surface — TzP

Castles, Rooks (chess pieces) — TzRYChYM

Qoph

Castor (and Pollux; twins of Gemini) — QYQYVN, QSTVR

Summer - QYT, QYTz

Sunbeam, Ray — QRN

Droplets — QVRT

Children — QTNVThYM

Collar around the neck — QVLR

Wall — QVPYA, QYR

Resh

Resurrection (transliteration not yet found in Hebrew sources) — ?

Sounding of the trumpet — RAOThA, RVO

Raziel, the Herald Angel — RZYAL

Regeneration — RGNRTzYH

Small rectangular cloth (the flag) — RVNQYN

Flames — RShP

To raise up — RVM, RVMM, RYM, RMM

Spirits of the Dead — RPAYM

Tomb, Resting place — RBTz

Young woman — RYBA, RYBH

Elder man — RVBH

Young man — RBY, RBYVThA, RVBA

Pavement blocks — RBYOYTh, RVBD

Shin

Portal of Heaven — ShOR HShMYM

(Portal — ShOR, Heaven — ShMYA, ShMYM)

Intertwined boughs, Plaited branches — ShBShB, ShVBK, ShOR

(Note that the letters ShOR spell both intertwined boughs and portal)

Almond-shaped — ShQD

Latticework — ShBKH

Bands (top and bottom plaiting) – ShBYS, ShVRYYNY, ShNTz

To pass through a hollow space — ShChL

To skip — ShRG

Naked, Barefoot — ShVLL

Strip of cloth — ShVSThG

Cape — ShKMYH

Scepter, Rod — ShBT, ShVLTYThA, ShRBYT

Rod holder — ShVShTH

Potion — ShQVYYA

Angel — ShNAN, ShR, ShRP

Eagle — ShLK, ShRQRQ, ShVRYNQA

Lion — ShChL, ShChTz

Bull — ShVR

Tooth, Claw, Hoof, Horn — ShN

Clouds — ShChQ

Crescent ornament — ShHRVN

Tav

Folly — ThHLH, ThPLH

Fool — ThVRMVN, ThRDA

Vagabond — ThVOH

Wandering, Waywardness — ThYVBA, ThOH

Masquerade costume, Mask, Disguise — ThChPShTh, ThLBVShTh

Crownlet — ThYN

Timbrel (around waist and neck) — ThP, ThVP

Knapsack, Travelling bag — ThRMYL

To carry a knapsack — ThRML

To suspend, To hang down — ThLY, ThLH

Pole — ThRN

Ladle — ThRVD

Staff, Crutch — ThGDA, ThGRA

Fox — ThOL, ThOLA, ThOLH

Wolf — ThVRMVS

Tearing off — ThLYShH, ThLSh

Pantaloons — ThChThVNYM

Underpants — ThChThVNYM

Furrows, Hillocks — ThLVLYTh, ThL, ThLM, ThPThYChA


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the alphabetic sequence of the Soprafino iconography

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Footnotes:

(1) See the Hebrew transliteration key below.

(2) See the Bibliography below.

Key to the English transliterations above:

A — aleph

B — bet

G — gimel

D — dalet

H — he

V — vav

Z — zayin

Ch — chet

T — tet

Y — yud

K — kaph

L — lamed

M — mem

N — nun

S — samech

O — ayin

P — peh

Tz — tzaddi

Q — qoph

R — resh

Sh — shin

Th — tav

Image of The Marseilles Lexicon