Created by Rolf Eichelmann
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - US Games 2003
Publisher: U.S. Games Systems Inc. (August 1, 2003)
Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 1.5 x 4.5 inches
86.36 x 116.84 x 35.56mm | 249.47g
Review by Kate Hill
The New Century Tarot is a striking Tarot deck from US Games Systems, created by German artist and architect Rolf Eichelman, who began to develop his cards in 1989. According to the companion booklet, he received inspiration from a present from his wife - Stuart Kaplan`s book, Tarot Classic - and began on the major arcana cards while on holiday. More than ten years later, in 2002, he created the fifty-six cards of the minor arcana and completed the full deck.
Eichelmann`s art in the New Century Tarot definitely has impact, with its distinctive, original style and consistent use of strong colour. It is peopled with bold and compelling figures, set in natural landscapes sombre, but majestic. All cards have a patterned tapestry-like backdrop running down the centre behind the main figure or suit element, and the colours of this backdrop change for each major and each suit. In the far background, all majors have a palisade of reddish trees silhouetted against a navy sky, the foliage of which changes subtly for each card. To me, the cards have a medieval atmosphere, and remind me slightly of the Dante Tarot - though this deck has more finely featured people and is set in a more realistic world.
Symbolically, this deck is a reworking of a `standard` Rider-Waite style Tarot. The cards have standard titles. Page, Knight, Queen, King. Swords, Cups, Wands, Pentacles. The major cards have kept their main symbols and titles, but artistically they have been renewed by placement in a natural background of natural detail and rich colour. These minors are lively illustrated pips, showing the correct number of suit symbols in a differing pattern on each card. The tapestry lies behind the suit symbols, then a pared-down Tarot scene is in front of or entwined with that. The court cards are a little bare, and with fewer cues for interpretation beginners may find them harder to interpret than usual.
Kate Hill is the owner, founder and editor of Aeclectic Tarot, and has reviewed more than 200 decks over the years.