Lotera Cards

Tarot for the Masses, Mid-20th Century

About 1769, the national lottery was established in New Spain, and playing a lottery game at parties became popular. Lotera cards and game boards were initially hand-made by local artists. By the mid-1800s they were being printed commercially; and in the early 20thCentury, the Don Clemente card style became the standard (the Tarot de Marseille of the lotera world).

Tarocco Piemontese Piedmont Tarot

Tarocco Piemontese Piedmont Tarot

Don Clemente was a French businessman who supplied the army with food and ammunition during the Mexican revolution. Soldiers received little decks of Don Clementes cards with their tins of sardines and boxes of bullets. By the early 20thcentury, Don Clementes style of lotera cards had swept through Mexico. The company still publishes its distinct brand of cards. Other publishers have their own style, but theres much overlap in card imagery and titles.

Every now and then I like to do up a deck for myself, and I would like to do some images in watercolour and coloured pencil.

Thanks for an interesting post, I have seen people mention these but didnt know much about them. They are slightly reminiscent of the Lenormand tradition of making your own deck.

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This sounds like an exciting project. Id love to post a few of your cards here when you get going on it.

I copied the meanings and card titles from Wikipedia and downloaded a PDF with an image for each card and printed it at 50%, so I can keep it straight.

Tarot de Marseille Type I vs Type II

Amazon has a huge selection. Search for lotera Mexican bingo

Thanks i was just chasing an idea that came to mind to find out if Loteria was a sortof Tarot. I found your blog and this

Characteristics of the Piedmont/Piemontese Tarot

Tarot de Marseille Type I vs Type II

Reading for Sleeping Beautys Prince

Oh well, I am rather pokey with art projects but I have a border and layout, just picking a font. Ive chosen a rooster I have always wanted to draw, so Ill putter away. I like making cards of any kindall those years of playing Old Maid when a child;-)

Click History for an illustrated story of Tarots invention and development. The Cartomancy section teaches you how to read with historic decks. For an in-depth exploration of each trump card look in the Iconography section. The Blog has short articles on tarot books and decks, tips on card reading, and tarot in art and fiction.

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Spontaneous poetry is part of the game, reminding me of thecentury Italy. During the game, the caller doesnt announce the name or number of a card. He calls out a poem or riddle, and the players have to figure out what image hes referring to before they can play the card. A good caller shapes his poetry to the audience: bawdy, political satire, or family-friendly.

Characteristics of the Piedmont/Piemontese Tarot

Im off to explore this charming art!

Lotera is a bingo-like game played in Mexico and the southwestern USA with a game board and a deck of 54 cards. Recently, I saw an exhibit of these cards at a local museum of Mexican folk art, and was surprised to learn that the deck began with a 15th-century Italian board game, and that several cards are very similar to tarot trumps.

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Just like tarot, contemporary lotera cards are influenced by popular culture. I saw a Christmas-themed deck with a cultural mix of reindeer and Las Posadas. Nearby, a pink and purple Hello Kitty deck kept company with a skateboard laminated with custom-designed cards. Publishers do spin-offs of the Don Clemente pattern, while artists create their own highly personal decks. The travelling exhibit of Teresa Villegas original art based on the Don Clemente deck was so successful, the company published her images as the Nuevo Versin Lotera.

Portrait of a Lady Tarot in a 15th-Century MurderMystery

These cards are fascinating and compelling. I havent come across any mention of divination with the cards, but I strongly suspect theres an underground tradition.  NOTE:  I just found a reference to divination with these cards. See the Comment below.

John Picacio, Hugo-winning Sci Fi/Fantasy illustrator, is creating a gorgeous re-imaging of the Don Clemente cards. He has samples of his cards alongsideDon Clementes on website.

I was so intrigued Im going to start drawing things for a deck for myself. I would probably use it for divination rather than bingo.

by Sherryl E. Smith on September 30, 2014

Reading for Sleeping Beautys Prince

Reading for Cinderellas Step-Sister

Tarot for the Masses, Mid-20th Century

The card images have a compelling, iconic quality thanks to more than 300 years of being distilled through European and Mexican folk culture. Several cards share names with tarot: Sun, Moon, Star, Angel, and Devil. Two cards resemble their counterparts in the 1664 Mitelli deck: World as Atlas holding up the globe, and Death as a standing skeleton with a scythe.

information on the game and her exhibition, and a link to her Etsy store with prints of her original lotera art.

Tags:Don Clemente loteria cards,Loteria cards,Mexican bingo cards,Teresa Villegas loteria art

Thanks for your comment. The imagery on these cards is so simple, yet compelling, that it tempts non-artists like me to make her own deck. But first Im going to buy a few decks myself. Since I live in an area thats nearly 50% hispanic, loteria games should be easy to find.

Tarot in Culture edited by Emily E.Auger

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Reading for Cinderellas Step-Sister

I just discovered a reference to divination with loteria cards in Tarot in Culture, Volume Two, edited by Emily E. Auger. On page 774, Batya Weinstein tells how her Mexican clients could not relate to the cards she brought from the U.S. There was no local tarot tradition, so she had to improvise. Thus I started reading with a deck of images used in a betting game played in the zocolos or town centers. I was better off with something closer to the culture, such as a stylized image of a rose. Evidently, her clients were okay with having their fortunes read with loteria cards. But she doesnt tell us whether the locals read with these cards, or if it was something she made up herself out of necessity.

a museum of Mexican folk art in an historic adobe near downtown Santa Barbara, CA

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