In the heart of Vanadzor, Armenia, an independent game studio called Pambak Games blazes a trail, forging a tarot card deck that honors the vibrant intricacies of Armenian mythology and folklore.
Generation after generation, tales have been whispered and woven into the collective memory of the Armenian people. These mythologies and folktales have had great influence on Armenian culture and language.
During the earliest eras of Armenian history, the Armenians worshiped nature and revered their sun god, 'Ar.' From this ancient devotion, the word 'Arev' emerged as a linguistic testament. In the realm of motherhood, wisdom, family, and protection, the goddess 'Nane' carries on to this day in Armenian language as many Armenians refer to their grandmother as Nene, Nani, Nana, etc.
Beyond language, traces of Armenian mythology emerge in traditions like Vardavar. Steeped in mythology, this ancient celebration is linked to the divine figure of Astghik, the goddess of water, beauty, love, and fertility.
Pambak Games is drawing upon this rich supply of myth and legend to bring these stories to life through their meticulously crafted tarot card cards. With each card, they conjure vibrant illustrations that breathe new life into age-old tales.
Below are all the tarot card designs they have released so far.
The Empress, Anahit the goddess of fertility and healing, wisdom and water. In earlier periods she was also the goddess of the war.
The Emperor, Aramazd, seen as the patriarch was the god of fertility, rain, and abundance.
Justice, Nane, as mentioned above, the goddess of motherhood, wisdom, family, and protection depicted below as a fierce, all-knowing maternal figure.
Strength, Vahagn god of fire and a dragon slayer. The Armenian word for Milky Way, Hardagoghi Chanaparh "Straw Thief's Way" comes from an old Armenian legend in which Vahagn steals straw from an Assyrian King and brings it to Armenia. Along the way Vahagn dropped straw in the heavens forming the Milky Way.
The Star, Astghik, goddess of love and beauty. According to Pambak’s instagram page, “Astghik as the Star is meant to embody hope, healing, and the gift of renewal.”
The Daredevil, Young Sasuntsi Davit, born with unearthly strength. He was known as a daredevil due to his fearless and unruly nature. Davit is the protagonist of Armenia's national epic Daredevils of Sassoun, who drove Arab Egyptian invaders out of Armenia.
Death, Spandarmet, the goddess associated with death and the underworld and was also a protector of vines and plants. Although the Death card may seem ominous, it symbolizes new beginnings and end of a cycle or period in our lives.
The Hermit, Tork Angegh a deity of strength, courage, manufacturing, and the arts. According to the Pambak Games’ Instagram page, the fable of Tork echoes the timeless message of judging others for who they are rather than superficial aspects. He also presents Armenian masculinity as a duality of being fierce and courageous, but also soft and artistic.
Lastly, The Lovers, Akhtamar, stemmed from an ancient Armenian legend which revolves around the forbidden love between Princess Tamar and a commoner, Aram that unfolds on the island of Akhtamar.
Pambak Games invites us all to partake in this journey and exploration of self, culture, and history. To follow Pambak on their endeavor of creating this tarot deck follow their instagram page @pambakgames.