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The Fantastic Journey of a Painter’s Mannequin in 22 Arcana

WRITTEN BY: Katalin Patnaik

Il Fantastico Viaggio di un Manichino da Pittore in 22 Arcani” is a Majors only deck published by Il Meneghello of Milan in 1993.

The attendees of TABI’s conference this year have been blessed with this collectible masterpiece, and I cannot express my gratitude towards the Master, Oswaldo Menegazzi and his team for their breathtaking generosity! Everyone was chuffed to see the little red and gold wax seal marking the deck as your creation! Thank you so very much!

For those who are not familiar with this deck, the cards show a somewhat battered looking mannequin’s journey through the Major Arcana. It reminds me of the story of Pinocchio, the little puppet who wanted to be a real boy. With my mind’s eye I see the mannequin rummaging
through Master Oswaldo’s workshop (a treasure trove without a doubt) and posing with various items, enacting the Majors and so symbolically traveling through the milestones of human life. I am left wondering what it might be thinking while holding the sword of Justice, or the rose on the Lovers; and it seems the mannequin itself is wondering what we, humans might be feeling when going through these phases.

The more I look at these cards the more I appreciate them. I keep finding cleverly composed details that make me smile, and little hints for the mannequin’s emotions. The colour of the patches of paint on its body changes from card to card, providing us with clues about its mental state and that makes me wonder: does the mannequin have emotions at all? Is it only trying to act like it has feelings? I so love this mystery around the little puppet, and the more I think about it, the more evocative the cards become.

Let me show you some of my favourite cards! Il Matto (The Fool), which is number 22 in this deck, shows the mannequin sitting on a wooden cockerel, with a traveler’s bag on its shoulder. I wonder what it is carrying in it!

La Torre (The Tower) shows the puppet kneeling under a collapsing tower of cards. I don’t know why, but this one is just so funny and sad at the same time! I can hear it thinking, ‘Oh no, what happened? What have I done wrong?’ with the genuine surprise of a child who has pulled out the card at the bottom and is left wondering why the tower has collapsed.

Il Diavolo (The Devil) shows it clutching a devil puppet’s head to its chest, protecting it from a flurry of pebbles and paint droplets. The mannequin has grown little horns as well, defying whoever wants to take its treasure away. It is so sweet! It might be thinking, ‘He is like me, I am not giving him up!’ And indeed, even humans grow protective of their bad habits when these provide them with a sense of belonging, or a routine moment of pleasure.

Each and every single card has something to tell you, if you can open your heart to hear it. I recommend this deck for every collector, for its little delicacies and gentle sense of humor. It isn’t really a deck I would actually use for readings, but one that is for admiration only – this is also down to the size of the cards; they are gigantic!

As a summary, I would say “Il Fantastico Viaggio di un Manichino da Pittore in 22 Arcani” is a creation solely for the pleasure of the tarot lover’s soul. Thank you, Il Meneghello, for your generosity! You have found at least one eternal admirer!

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