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The tradition of tarot is estimated to be over five hundred years old with archetypal roots that can be traced back to almost two thousand years. The traditional tarot has given way to the modern methods of divination, but it still remains a reservoir of ancient wisdom. The traditional tarot decks are the source of origin of the modern playing cards.
The history and origin of tarot is not very clear, though there are numerous theories supporting beliefs of its origin from various places such as China, India or Egypt. However, the oldest Tarot cards that are found date back to the fifteenth century and were found in Spain, Italy and France. According to historical evidence, traditionally, tarot cards were used as playing cards with pictures depicting conditions of life, liberal arts and virtues such as temperance and prudence. It is widely believed that initially tarot was not used as a means of divination.
The traditional tarot was adapted to contemporary styles and Rider-Waite Tarot, Aquarian Tarot, Crowley Thoth Tarot and Cagliostro Tarot are now considered the most elementary and traditional tarot card decks. These cards are designed on the basis of the historical cards and considered as ideal choices fro beginners. Rider-Waite Tarot was designed in 1909 by artist Pamela Coleman Smith, according to the specifications provided by Arthur Edward Waite. This deck contains seventy-eight cards with 56 minor arcana cards and 22 major arcana cards. However, this deck revolutionized the traditional decks by assigning pictures to the minor arcana cards. This deck is the world's most popular Tarot deck, which is preferred by beginners as well as advanced students of Tarot.
However, most of the Tarot historians consider all the tarot decks that were in practice used before the nineteenth century as historical decks. Traditional tarot decks are considered to be closely based on the decks that were prevalent in the Golden Dawn era. The A. E. Waite and Pamela Coleman Smith's deck is a fine example of traditional tarot decks. These tarot decks further gave rise to the more popular Rider-Waite deck and Thoth deck.