When the Rider Tarot Deck® was created, it was the only one of its kind. Still, at this point, opening a RWS deck in its distinctive yellow box, I don't expect to see many surprises. Someone once told me, "If you think you NEED a tarot deck, then you NEED a Rider Waite deck." I'm not sure I'd go quite that far but certainly no collection would be complete without this one. If you have the uncanny feeling, when looking at this deck, that you've seen its shapes and symbols before -- you're not imagining it.
The Hermetic Tradition
Centered on the idea that there exists a single all-encompassing theology that was passed down to man from the gods in antiquity, Hermeticism is based on the writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus. Hermeticism had a considerable impact on Western Esotericism from the Renaissance on.
660-670, China: First example of printing on paper. Early xylography was accomplished with hemp paper and woodblocks.
The game was often referred to as "gold speckled leaves", which does make it sound quite a lot like early gold-leaf Tarot cards. Many scholars will tell you that playing cards were invented in 827 because they have conflated these two games. If there is any relationship between these games, which I doubt, it is this:
On the twenty-third day of the sixth month in the thirty-first year of the zhiyuan period (17 July 1294), we caught Yan Sengzhu and Zheng Zhugou playing cards, and have also found wood blocks to print cards. Each person has admitted to the truth of the accusation. We have, according to the rules, passed judgement and punished correctly the organizer Lu Donger, accessory to gambling Zheng Zhugou, the owner of the premises Jiang Sier, and the block printer Ye Lin, and dispatched to the Ever-abundant Treasury for deposit the nine cards (zhipai) that were about to be destroyed, and...
1364, St. Gallen, Switzerland. A local ordinance forbids dice, allows board games, and leaves the subject of cards untouched. This is often cited as the date before which cards could not have been known in Europe.
1377, Basel, Switzerland. A Dominican friar by the name of John describes various types of playing cards in detail.
We know playing cards entered Europe in the 1370s because there are no references before this time, and suddenly they start appearing across the continent. In St. Gallen, an ordinance made in 1379 forbade the use of playing cards.
In 1372, the belfry was added to the already leaning tower of Pisa, completing the structure.