|A Dybbuk Joker|
He also illustrated two gorgeous decks of cards. "In the 1930s, Arthur Szyk joined a storied artistic tradition by illustrating an exquisite set of playing cards. Painted in his highest style in watercolor and gouache on paper, the twelve court cards - four Kings, four Queens, and four Jacks - each feature a different Jewish hero from the Bible or ancient history. Every idealized portrait includes the hero's name in Hebrew calligraphy and a symbolic element alluding o his or her story".
The jokers - not mentioned in the formal description of the deck that I quoted above - are of a dybbuk, a mystical Jewish figure. Or so I am told by Pam Stein, the contributor of this deck and joker.
A dybbuk, per Wikipedia is: "a malicious possessing spirit believed to be the dislocated soul of a dead person." I will continue to research this. As part of this, I've been reading the Wikipedia article on the 21 Jewish mystical characters, there are a lot more birds that I would have imagined.
Focusing on the women, the Queen of Diamonds portrays Ruth. Notice the wheat in her hands which echoes the story of her going to the fields to harvest excess wheat and barley where she caught Boaz's eye.
|Ruth as the Queen of Diamonds|
The Queen of Spades is a painting of Esther.
|Esther - The Queen of Spades|
|Deborah, Queen of Diamonds|