Picture-card packs are first mentioned by Martiano da Tortona probably between 14, since the painter he mentions, Michelino da Besozzo, returned to Milan in 1418, while Martiano himself died in 1425.He describes a deck with 16 cards with images of the Greek gods and suits depicting four kinds of birds.Playing cards first entered Europe in the late 14th century, most likely from Mamluk Egypt, with suits of Batons or Polo sticks (commonly known as Wands by those practicing occult or divinatory tarot), Coins (commonly known as disks, or pentacles in occult or divinatory tarot), Swords, and Cups.These suits were very similar to modern tarot divination decks and are still used in traditional Italian, Spanish and Portuguese playing card decks.In 1765, Giacomo Casanova wrote in his diary that his Russian mistress frequently used a deck of cards for divination.A variety of tarot designs exist and a number of typical regional patterns have emerged.Decks survive from this era from France, and the most popular pattern is the Tarot de Marseille The original purpose of tarot cards was to play games, the first rules appearing in the manuscript of Martiano da Tortona before 1425, and the next from the year 1637. Tarocchini has survived in Bologna and there are still others played in Piedmont and Sicily, but in Italy the game is generally less popular than elsewhere.
Regional tarot games—often known as tarock, tarok, or tarokk are widely played in central Europe within the borders of the former Austro-Hungarian empire.
These cards are documented in a written statement in the court records in Florence, in 1440.
The oldest surviving tarot cards are from fifteen decks painted in the mid 15th century for the Visconti-Sforza family, the rulers of Milan.
Divination using playing cards is recorded as early as 1540.
A manuscript from 1750 (Pratesi Cartomancer) documents rudimentary divinatory meanings for the cards of the tarot.
In addition, the tarot has a separate 21-card trump suit and a single card known as the Fool.