This is a tarot deck in a presentation box. It contains the deck, a bag to hold your deck made from black organdy and a companion book for using the deck.
The author/artist, Zach Wong, grew up in Malaysia. He has studied Western and Asian mythology. He now lives in Australia as a graphic designer and illustrator.
First the deck. There are 22 Major Arcana cards. There are four suits: cups, pentacles, swords and wands. Each suit contains 10 numbered cards and four court cards. In this deck, wands are fire, swords are air, pentacles are earth and cups are water. All cards are labeled with their number and their name.
The decks style is self described by the artist as "stained glass". As I went through the deck, I got a feeling of stained glass in some cards, but others were slightly suggestive of the manga style of art. Still others were very definitely Western in influence of both design and meaning. There is an overall Asian influence in his style, and it is refreshing rather than unsettling.
In the Major Arcana, the artist makes this note: Each character in the major arcana wears a mask over his or her face, which is depicted by lines that break the face down into sections. The mask is merely a representation of a "human" relations, similar to that of the mythical gods who stand in human form amongst us to ease our comprehension of the messages they deliver. Again, a refreshing new look at the meanings of the Major Arcana.
I also like the "mirror image" effect the artist used to denote reversal of the cards. This deck needs to be used by someone who uses reverse meanings in their readings. If you look at the Fool, in the upright position you can see the traditional representation. However, in the reverse, the image is somewhat mirrored in the opposite, showing the traditional meaning of the reversed Fool. The Hermit, on the one side is looking for enlightenment with a lantern, on the other side mirrored again in the opposite, he is being shown sliding against the darkness. Very cleverly done, and a stroke of genius to be sure.
The Major Arcana is the only part of the deck that is entirely done in this manner. With the Minor Arcana, some cards have no reverse design. What the artist did do is associate numbers across the suits with a "theme", such as the fives all denote "conflict, loss and change" while the tens offer "transcendence". Again, a lovely addition to the cards.
All the designs are colorful and attractively done. Even the reverse side of the cards is very tasteful and lovely to contemplate.
The book does a wonderful job of explaining how the artist interprets the meanings of the cards as reflected by his study of the traditional meaning and how he personally designed and defined his insights. It is clearly written and the material is covered in depth. The little illustrations make referencing the cards easier, but in no way are they substitutes for the deck itself.
Using this deck was also very enjoyable. The cards are 2 ¾" wide by a little over 4 ½" long. The cardboard is standard stock and coated, making them sturdy to stand up to handling and shuffling. You may want to give the book a general reading, to see where the artist may vary with traditional interpretations, but overall the deck does have traditional associations. The learning curve here will be very slight.
This is a lovely deck, nice to handle and work with. The designs offer some keen insights into the mysteries of the Tarot, and the artwork is sure to please both the reader as well as the clients you may use these for. The book will assist with any questions you may have and will answer them clearly. This is a good effort on the part of Mr. Wong and one that will attract readers for both use as well as collecting. boudica