As you can see, I’ve mixed and matched the suits from older, European examples, arriving at Hearts, Coins, Bells and Leaves, aligning them to be evocative of today’s standard pips where needed. Technically Bells should replace Coins/Diamonds and have Acorns for Clubs, but I always approached this deck as if it was designed by someone unconcerned with strict historical or cultural accuracy. They just wanted something quaint and old-fashioned in a Terran sort of way.
For the Ace Cards, I wanted to incorporate symbols that invokes their cartomancy meaning: Hearts=Home, Diamonds/Coins=Prosperity, Clubs/Bells=a Message and Spades/Leafs=Death or Separation. After having decided on two which represented animals in a fashion, I decided to continue the theme. I first settled on the Adinkra symbol of two crossed crocodiles for Hearts and home as it represents unity, solidarity and tolerance which say home and family to me. Next for Leaves I chose the Chinese character that represents “omen” for both the meaning and appearance of two people facing away from each other. That it’s a pictograph of cracks on a tortoise shell prompted me to continue with the animal motif.
The three and four hare symbol has been discovered and used throughout Asia, the Middle East and Europe. As it generally stands for good fortune and prosperity, works in a circle and the variant of four describes a diamond in the middle, well, how could I not?
Now for Bells, I first tried using the snakes of Hermes’ caduceus, but that got too fussy and obscured the shape besides. Then Kip suggested cricket for a variety of reasons and as apparently the Iroquois thought of the cricket as a messenger I was on board. I had to come up with my own cricket symbol, but I could live with that.
Thankfully, this is all the design work I need to do to get on with Part 5 of Book 2 of Dicebox. In fact I have already laid out the first four pages of the same and am about to work on the final line art of the first two. Starting… now.