U Trunfu

U Trunfu

Property included in the Register of Intangible Heritage of Sicily (REIS)



Technical sheet prepared by: Region of Sicily - Department of cultural heritage and Sicilian identity - CRicd: Regional center for inventory, cataloging and documentation and Sicilian regional film library

No. Prog.
U Trunfu
REIS - Book of Expressive Practices and Oral Repertoires
Approval date
Traditional game
Local denomination
U trunfu
Chronological News
U Trunfu is a game that uses the “Sicilian Tarot” deck of cards. The play takes on variations and details that may differ between the various gaming clubs in Italy and Sicily.
In Europe, the introduction of decks of cards and consequently of games takes place in the 300th century from the Mamluk kingdom of Egypt and Syria. The tarot deck, of Italian invention (Visconti court of Milan and Este court of Ferrara) consisted in the addition of 26 cards to an Italian deck of 52, reaching the number of 78. In the game of tarot the 21 trumps function as trumps and in fact it is with the invention of these cards that the very concept of trump is born.
According to Dummett the meaning of Triumphs must be sought in the "role that these cards have in the game" and not in the study of their images, the latter choices because they are easily "memorable" for the players and drawn from the repertoires of the culture of the Italian Renaissance courts, where alchemy, occultism necessarily influenced symbolism iconographic of the artists.
In Sicily it was the Viceroy of Sicily Francesco Gaetani, Duke of Sermoneta in 1663 who introduced the game to the island (Marquis of Villabianca).
The Sicilian Tarots, different from those used in Bologna, Ferrara, Milan, were greatly influenced on the form by the "Gallerini“, Which was the Sicilian name given to the Tarot game from Florence.
It was in the nineteenth century with the spread of occultism and divination that the Tarot was interpreted in the light of the Kabbalah, bringing forward a strong magical component.
Thanks to the studies of Michael Dummett it was discovered that in Sicily tarot cards were played, with rules and with an absolutely original deck of cards (Tortorici, Barcellona Pozzo di Gotto, Mineo, Calatafimi).
In Tortorici children still continue to be taught and in many circles U Trunfu, a game that uses the deck of cards of the "Sicilian tarot" according to rules of absolute originality. The game is played at the Circoli in the main square of the town, such as the "Masters"(Of traditional craftsmanship and workers) and the"Civil"(Of the" educated "bourgeois class).
The Sicilian Tarot deck consists of 63 cards. Forty one are the cards of the four ordinary suits, Gold, Clubs, Cups and Batons, here however in the form similar to the Portuguese model; Compared to the Sicilian regional cards, which maintain the Spanish model, they are characterized not only by the presence of an additional figure (the Queen), but also by the seated position of the Kings, by the fact that in the long suits, swords and sticks are diagonally intersected and not arranged separately, and above all due to the fact that the numeral cards from 8 to 10 are present and those from Ace to 4 are missing. Another characteristic is the presence of an alphanumeric index, placed centrally and at both ends of the cards numerals, which explains the value (with a number) and the suit (with a letter: B = Batons, C = Cups, S = Swords, O = Gold) of the card. Twenty-two are the cards of a special suit called Trionfi (Trunfi in Sicilian) or Briscole or Numbers, of which 20 have an increasing numbering; two unnumbered cards are The Misery that it must be considered 0 (zero) and constitutes the triumph of the lowest value, and another unnumbered card, with the role of "Excuse" represents The Fugitive ('U Fujutu). The five highest scoring trumps are 16 The stars, the 17 Moon, the 18 The sun, the 19 The World or Atlas that 'In Badda, the 20Jupiter.
In the game of tarot the 22 trumps function as trumps and in fact it is with the invention of these cards that the very concept of trumps was born. The game has several similarities with some basic rules typical of card games: the cards are played in "tricks"; a trick consists of the single cards played by each player in response to the opening one; to open the first socket is the declarant; it is played counterclockwise; the highest card played wins the trick; if trumps have been played they obviously win over the other suits, and the highest in play wins the trick; in Tarot games a player who cannot follow the suit must play a trump if he has it. The game of Tortorici can be played with 3 players with 1 against 2 soloist or each for himself; to 4 players with fixed pairs faced.
Cardullo, Simon. 2014. The Sicilian tarot, Terme Vigliatore (ME): Giambra.
Dummett, Michael. 2002. The Sicilian tarot, Genoa: Il melangolo.
Author Card
Chiara Dell'Utri
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