Napo Tarot. Created by Betty Lopez.  Illustrated by Napo.

Publisher: U.S. Games (First Published in September 1998 & Re-published in November 2020)
RRP: £17.50
ISBN-13:  978-1-57281-067-9
ISBN-10:  1-57281-067-X

The Box is a standard tuck box, but with a laminated finish, that not only makes the images on the box itself “pop”, but additionally offers extra protection and improves the overall sturdiness of the box.

Box size – 122mm (l) x 72mm (w) x 30mm (d) – (approximately)

The Cards themselves are what I consider to be standard Tarot card size. They, like the box, have a laminated finish (as seen commonly in playing card decks). This makes them very slippery to handle, this does however offer significant protection and therefore longevity in relation to their life expectancy. 

Card size – 120mm (l) x 70mm (w) – (approximately)

This is a decent quality “work horse” of a deck and box with a 51 page Little White Book included.
“This 78-card tarot deck was created to remind us of our connection to the Cosmos.  The illustrations have been beautifully rendered by famed Argentinian artist Napo, who is known for his colourful and distinctive art style.” – The Napo Tarot.

The Napo Tarot is the work of author Betty Lopez and artist Napo (Both are Argentinian). 
Napo was born Antonio Mongiello Ricci, in Santa Fe, Argentina, in 1942. He signed his work Napoléon or Léon Napo and in 1959 he began to publish his work as a satirical artist and present it in shows. Not only did he illustrate books and contribute to political journals with graphic humour, but he also created calendars, posters, puzzles and games. He emigrated from Argentina to Paris in 1975, to escape the forthcoming dictatorship. During this time in Paris he also collaborated with the newspaper Le Monde. Napo died in Buenos Aires, Argentina early last year on January 6th 2020, aged 77. Perhaps that’s why the deck was republished when it was? I can only speculate. 

Betty Lopez, was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was received at the University of Buenos Aires as a Professor of Arts and Literature. Since the early Seventies she has written and published over 1,5000 articles in magazines for children, books for primary education with Santillana publishing house, books for secondary education with Colihue Publications and story books with Plus Ultra Publishing Company. Additionally, she has also worked for many years at Medium Coeli, the Astrologia de Buenos Aires magazine. She has dedicated herself to research, and teaching Tarot and Astrology.

Their deck reflects the colourful and vibrant myth, culture and history of Argentina, which is then “superimposed” over the classic Rider-Waite-Smith.  Therefore this is a deck that you can work with if you are familiar with the Rider-Waite-Smith in general.  However, you would do yourself and this deck a disservice not to read the accompanying little white book (LWB) and if you wish research the associated stories to add further depth of meaning for interpretation.  It is a shame that a more comprehensive book wasn’t created for this deck.  For example, in the aforementioned little white book we learn that the card backs (Blue with 4 golden stars), represent the stars / constellations of the Southern Cross and the Three Marias.  The LWB expands on why this is meaningful; they are visible over the highlands of Argentina, with The Southern Cross representing “the four suits in the deck, the four cardinal points, the four elements, the four evangelists, the element of nature, which we know of through the alchemist Paracelsus.” – Napo Tarot Little White Book. The Three Marias represent infinite possibilities via the three possibilities of matter according to the Hindu philosophy of Rajas, Tamas and Satwas. With both constellations meant to remind us that we are connected to the cosmos and that as Tarot readers we merge with External Knowledge…It would have been nice if each card had had the same level of background and story detailed.

The titles are all in Spanish.  The Major Arcana has the titles in English at the top, with The Minor Arcana having keywords in Spanish at the bottom and across the top in English.  I personally don’t like keywords printed onto decks, but this does make this a nice deck for beginners.  The associated number for each card is placed in a diamond on each card, with astrological correspondences for the Major Arcana placed in a square, done in such a way as not to be jarring, but to blend with the overall feel of the card.  I’m certainly no expert in Astrology, but it seems in the original publication the symbol for Sagittarius, that is usually associated with Temperance, is found on the Star and the symbol for Aquarius, which is usually associated with The Star, is on the Temperance card instead. I have yet to find an explanation for this, so can only presume it is an error, as it has been corrected to the expected correspondence in this particular deck.

The Court Cards are correlated with the Elements.  Page (Earth), Knight (Air), Queen (Water) and King (Fire), and the art reflects these elemental combinations, though not as clearly as I would like, as someone who enjoys working with elemental dignities.

Overall, whilst not to my personal taste I would recommend this deck. I think it would suit anyone who prefers to read in the Rider-Waite -Smith system, intuitive readers, beginners, as well as anyone who has an interest in Argentinian / South American culture.  Due to the artist style, colour and subtle implied nudity, it would also be suitable for children in my opinion.  

Written ByTasha Lee

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