The Japardize Tarot by Nino Japaridze

By Kate Large

The Japardize Tarot cover - Nino Japaridze

The Japardize Tarot by Nino Japaridze | US Games Systems | ISBN: 978-1572817807

I’ve been fizzing with excitement about this deck for a good while and was keen to see why this new tarot has created so much buzz. The Japaridze is that rarest of beasts – a deck with tradition at its heart, but reinvented for a new audience. With tarot decks appearing in hipster boutiques in NYC, a deck that comes not from a traditionally esoteric angle, but from an artistic one, is in just the right place at the right time.

Nino Japaridze is a Georgian artist by birth and her work is exhibited around the world. The deck comes a large, high-quality box, with full-colour guidebook. The cards are quite large, big enough that I had to adapt my usual shuffling style. Each card is rendered in vibrant colour on good-quality cardstock, but personally, I could lose the white borders: without them, the deck would be even more stunning.

There are changes in the majors, introducing War, Fortune and The Drowned and in the minors, the suits are reinvented as fire, tides, winds and gardens. In the court cards, Page and Knight are replaced by Jester and Stranger. This last change didn’t chime with me. The meanings of the cards remained largely the same, and I didn’t feel the energy or associations you might expect from ‘jester’ or ‘stranger’ archetypes, so why make the change? It’s not explained in the book and I’m still puzzled.

The deck that took some living with before it ‘warmed up’ enough to read, and while I tried the two suggested spreads in the book, I didn’t get much from them. The cards read better in more freeform spreads and for meditation and dreamwork, the surreal, symbolic artwork works brilliantly. If I had some quibbles with the Minors, I really enjoyed the rendering of the Majors.

This is a top-quality, art-driven deck and if you’re after something a little different, something to put you outside your comfort zone, the Japaridze will do so, and elegantly too.