The Kashmir Tarot - 22 Original Serigraphs by Nicolaas C.J. van Beek

Kashmir Tarot - photo 1
Click to enlarge

The Kashmir Tarot, which is a collector's item, has over the last 20 years found its way to Tarot specialists and collectors over the whole world. These include Tarot masters such as Robert Wang and (the late) Israel Regardie. The Kashmir Tarot is included in the collections of at least two specialist museums (in Denmark and Belgium).  It was also presented to the Dalai Lama during the Kalachakra initiation in Rikon, Switzerland, in 1985.

The Kashmir Tarot, Limited Edition Major Arcana is a collection of serigraphs which have been hand silk-screened on Bristol card, with 10 to 15 print runs per card, and more than 200 hand-mixed colours in total for the 22 cards of the Major Arcana. It is an esoteric work, combining symbols from both eastern and western traditions with an original design of overlaid energy lines, as well as a collection of 22 miniature works of art.

Introduction to the Kashmir Tarot by Rachel Pollack, U.S.A.

The Kashmir Tarot stands unique among all the thousands of Tarot decks that have come into existence since the first Tarot paintings in the fifteenth century.  Its form alone sets it apart. Nicolaas C.J. van Beek designed and created two Tarot decks.  The printed one is the second of these two projects. The first consists of the 22 Major Arcana trumps handcarved in walnut wood bas-reliefs, over many months of careful labor.  Only 8 of these wooden Tarot sets exist in the world.  To my knowledge, no one before Nicolaas has ever adapted the great and powerful images of the Major Arcana in quite this way.  (There exists at least one carved wooden deck, but in that case the carvings are for wood block prints.)

Kashmir Tarot - photo 2
Click to enlarge

The printed deck is not, however, a simple copy of the wooden deck.  To fully utilize the greater subtlety of detail available on paper, Nicolaas almost began again, developing his own symbolic system of image and geometry, as well as an elaborate and delicate color scheme.  Instead of the standard method of color printing, which tends to flatten and distort the tones, the colors were first hand-mixed, using more than 200 colors in total for the deck, and then each color for every card was silkscreened onto the card, a slow and expensive process, but one which has produced cards of unusual beauty.

Nicolaas van Beek pays tribute to the Kabbalist connection by including a Hebrew letter for each card (as well as an astrological symbol).  However, he has chosen for his primary symbolic link the esoteric teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.  In order to blend these into the trumps, the Kashmir Tarot relies on certain recurring symbols, primarily lines and circles of energy subtly connecting to the system of energy centers in the human body.

The Tarot shows us the development of awareness, but in fact it does far more.  It assists us in that development.  The power of these images is such that the more we work with them the more they work on us, increasing our knowledge and changing our perceptions.
-  Rachel Pollack, author of The New Tarot.

• Rachel Pollack

Author of :
"86 Degrees of Wisdom"
" The New Tarot "

The Kashmir Tarot - by Stuart R. Kaplan, U.S.A.

Kashmir Tarot - photo 3
Click to enlarge

The Dutch artist Nicolaas C.J. van Beek created two Tarot decks that are each unusual in their own right.  The first deck is carved in wood, and the second is printed.  Much of the symbolism has to do with chakras, described as points of energy that emanate from the spine and, when stimulated through mental and physical training, awaken latent spiritual and psychic capacities. The wooden deck was carved with the help of a Kashmiri woodcarver, Abdul Salama, in a limited edition of 8 sets.  The 22 cards are carved in walnut wood, in bas-relief, and are presented in a box of walnut wood.

On a 1982 visit to Dharamsala, in the Indian Himalayan province of Himachal Pradesh, the idea to undertake the work crystallized on the full moon of Buddha's birthday.  Van Beek travelled to Kashmir to work on the designs, and on the full moon of the Hindu god Shiva's festival, the prototype wooden set was finished.   
The deck is dedicated to the artist's teacher, Kyabje Ling Rimpoche.

While the printed deck is modelled after the first deck, the medium of paper allowed for more subtle lines, and a symbolic linear geometry system was overlaid.  The deck was issued in 1984, on Bristol carton, with each color hand-silkscreened onto the cards, resulting in 10 to 15 print runs per card, and more than 200 color tones used for the whole deck. The printing was executed by the artist with the help of Dik Al of the Netherlands.  The artist takes pride in basing his deck on Western Tarots, such as the Rider-Waite pack and the Tarot of Marseilles, while also incorporating Eastern motifs.  On a few of the cards, such as X, The Wheel of Truth, a fully Tibetan image is used.

• Stuart R. Kaplan

President, U.S. Games Systems, Inc. New York, U.S.A.
publisher of "The Encyclopedia of the Tarot"

David V. Barrett, Tarot
David V. Barrett, The Encyclopedia of Prediction
Rachel Pollack, The New Tarot
Stuart R. Kaplan, The Encyclopedia of the Tarot, Vol III
Bres Magazine, No. 114

The Kashmir Tarot, Limited Edition Serigraphs (silkscreen edition) costs Eur. 500,-, including the cost for packaging and postage for AIR
MAIL Registered post.
To order the Kashmir Tarot, please

Stephen H.N. van Beek

More than 60 paintings by Nicolaas van Beek in a slide show:

Review by
Dr. Robert Wang, U.S.A.

“ This is one of the most interesting and evocative Tarot decks to appear in years. The cards created by the Dutch artist Nicolaas C.J. van Beek are at once symbols of an inner experience and fine art. Considered as 22 hand-printed original graphics, they would be a bargain at many times the price.”
Dr. Robert Wang, scholar and researcher of The Golden Dawn, and author of the Golden Dawn Tarot.