Calling all mystery seekers, fortune enthusiasts, and art lovers to the one-of-a-kind pop-up store at The Gallery Shop, River City Bangkok where art, mystique, and creativity come together to provide a sneak peek into a future. There you will see the artistic expression of cat-themed tarot cards by Kanitsart Semanopparat (Chang), crafted continuously over four years, his deck reflects artistry and unique designs that make 'Stray Cat Tarot' outstanding.
Tarot cards, originating in 15th-century Europe as game cards, transitioned into divination tools around the 18th century. A standard deck comprises 78 cards categorised into Major Arcana (22 cards with profound symbolism) and Minor Arcana (56 cards resembling a regular playing deck with four suits).
The Major Arcana explores life aspects with cards like The Fool, The Lovers, or Death, signifying significant events. The Minor Arcana, divided into Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles, explores emotions, creativity, intellect, and material aspects.
In a reading, cards are shuffled and laid in a pattern (spread), each position offering insight into different aspects. Readers interpret based on imagery, symbolism, and card positions. Tarot claims to aid self-reflection, decision-making, and understanding situations, emphasising its reflective nature over certainties. Artwork varies, reflecting the creator's interpretation, making each deck a unique work of art.
The inspirational force behind 'Stray Cat Tarot' lies in Chang's personal affinity for drawing animals, especially cats. The first Tarot deck was centred around felines, symbolising the wanderer, a love for freedom, and nonconformity. The narrative of the first deck revolves around stray cats, with the stray cat as the starting point of the Stray Cat Tarot. Cats, often associated with magic, Tarot readings, and mysticism, particularly the 'black cat,' became the emblem encapsulating everything Chang stands for. Thus, the inaugural deck's name, Stray Cat Tarot, became the identity for his studio.
The Stray Cat Tarot deck has become widely popular both in Thailand and internationally. This triumph inspired Chang to design a second deck featuring rabbits, titled 'LUNALAPIN,' which has also garnered significant acclaim, attracting a diverse fan base from over 30 countries around the globe.
The fusion of tarot and cats has inspired the creation of unique decks, reimagining traditional symbols through the lens of feline behaviour and mythology. This innovative approach appeals to artists and tarot enthusiasts, offering a fresh perspective that conveys traditional meanings through the playful and sometimes mysterious actions of cats.
Incorporating cats into tarot readings adds a distinctive layer to the divination process, believed to bring a playful yet profound depth to card interpretations. For example, a card depicting a cat napping in the sun might symbolise contentment and the need for self-care, while a card showing a cat gazing into a pond might suggest introspection and searching for deeper truths.
The fusion of tarot and cats has captured the interest of tarot enthusiasts, cat lovers, and a wider audience. This trend showcases the role of tarot for self-reflection and spirituality. These decks are popular as gifts and collectibles due to their artistic value and also reflect a broader cultural movement embracing spirituality and mysticism in mainstream society.
The combination of tarot and cats symbolises a blend of art, divination, and culture, resonating with the human quest for understanding the unknown while adding a touch of whimsy and respect for the mystical world.
Chang, in an exclusive interview with Koktail, shares insights into the influence of his work that extends beyond physical patterns, exploring its impact in the cultural domain.
“In Thailand, the popularity of tarot has surged compared to previous times. Chang emphasises the rich historical background of tarot cards, noting that the meaning attached to each card is contingent upon the unique cultural context. The interpretation is a subjective process, allowing for variations in the meaning of tarot cards across different cultures. In the case of Thailand, the interpretation of tarot takes on a distinct flavour reflective of the country's cultural nuances.
In the realm of tarot, the combination of one's personal experiences with the symbolic language of the cards plays a crucial role. As an illustration, cat tarot cards often convey a sense of fierceness or a biting undertone when melded with the reader's personal energy. Conversely, when exploring themes of love, employing rabbit tarot cards tends to evoke a heightened sense of sweetness or gentleness.”
Tarot reading practices vary globally, each culture infusing traditional imagery with its own beliefs. In the Western tradition, exemplified by the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, tarot originated in 15th-century Europe, incorporating Christian symbolism and classical mythology. Eastern cultures, like Japan and India, offer unique perspectives, blending Shinto and Buddhist elements or drawing from Hindu mythology, respectively. African-inspired decks incorporate symbolism from African mythology, emphasising the strength of the African spirit. Native American tarot integrates indigenous spirituality, emphasising life's sacredness and the connection between humans and nature. In Thailand, tarot combines Buddhist philosophy, Thai folklore, and traditional symbolism for a deeply spiritual approach.
The success of Chang's Stray Cat Tarot has elevated his studio to international acclaim and inspired a burgeoning community of tarot enthusiasts who find solace in the fusion of spirituality and artistic expression. The impact of this collaboration extends beyond the physical space of the pop-up store, challenging perceptions and renewing appreciation for the limitless possibilities that arise when different worlds come together.
The Stray Cat Studio's pop-up store will run from January 5 to February 4, 2024, at The Gallery Shop, 1st floor, River City Bangkok. Throughout the duration of the pop-up store, plenty of exciting activities are lined up. For an insight into the card and its creator, don't miss the chance to engage in conversation with the artist in person.