Arcana Jianghu Lenormand by Li Sha and Wang Xiao Po

Jianghu 江湖 is the code of honor and fundamental values of Wuxia, a longstanding genre of Chinese martial arts literature. Jianghu translates literally to “Rivers and Lakes,” though those terms are used metaphorically here, covering multiple layers of meaning.

[Compare, for instance, how Feng Shui translates literally to “Wind and Water,” but it’s in reference to how the energies of people, places, and things harmonize with one another.]

In story writing, Jianghu is part of the setting that the author develops for a Wuxia novel. It is world-building. It’s the structure of social order, the class system, the magical system, the various martial arts factions or lineages, the government, the peasants, and everyone in between.

Lenormand, Cards 24 through 33

Jianghu expresses the cast of heroes and villains, the power structure of the world the Wuxia author has built. In this Lenormand deck, there are two versions for the Man and Woman cards (see above) — for the Man, the versions are Swordsman and Scholar; for the Woman, the versions are Swordswoman and Maiden.

Lenormand, Cards 1 through 11, plus a bonus Special Card, Alcohol

Jianghu is also the landscape of sacred mountains and mystical forests. It’s the many regions of the kingdom the cast of characters travel to on their adventure to obtaining magical relics.

I love the extra Special Card, as it’s called, in this deck– Alcohol. Per the explanation in the little white booklet:

“As a cultural artifact, alcohol connects our lives, emotions and spirits. In Jianghu, heroes drink to meet friends, writers and poets drink away their bitter sorrow alone. People drink by the red wedding candles to celebrate happiness, and drink in front of tombs to bid farewell to the dead on Tomb Sweeping Day.”

Just a side FYI — red is the color predominantly used in Chinese weddings. So “red wedding” has a very different connotation to the culturally Chinese than what you might be thinking right now, post-Game of Thrones…

According to legend, the term “Jianghu” is attributed to Zhuangzi, an influential Taoist philosopher. It expresses a path and lifestyle chosen by a protagonist, decidedly away from politics and government.

Lenormand, Cards 34 Fish, 35 Anchor, and 36 Cross

It’s the philosopher-scholar who chooses not to pursue power, but rather chooses the life of a hermit, or independent sojourner. It’s the path of a rebel, but one with a heart of gold and who abides by a strict code of personal honor.

The Arcana Jianghu Lenormand brings together Jianghu world-building with the 36-card structure of the Petit Lenormand, rendered in traditional Chinese ink brush paintings by artist Wang Xiao Po. Wang’s art preserves a classical Chinese style of painting, deftly conveying movement, flow, and, well, feng shui — wind and water.

I love the creative changes to the Lenormand for it to express Jianghu, such as milk mutton jade ornaments as love tokens for the Heart, card 24. The Cross, card 36, is a blood-stained sword upon a battlefield.

Fun coincidence — the jade and gold ring pictured on Card 25 looks strikingly similar to a jade and gold ring my late mother-in-law gifted me with. I’ve included it in the photo above.

Lenormand, Cards 12 through 23

Although this deck doesn’t feature the playing card correspondences, you’ll find them in the little white booklet (LWB). Actually, the LWB provides a really concise yet comprehensive primer on reading with the Lenormand. It’s written by Li Sha and translated into English by Wolper Luo.

You even get thematic tone and timing indications for each card. Card 12, for example, the Birds, bears a neutral tone, according to the booklet, and in terms of timing, indicates an event to happen immediately, and 12 noon or 12 midnight. The Child card corresponds with late summer, while the Fox card is unpredictable.

Card 15, the Bear, indicates long-term. The tone for Card 23, Mice, is negative. In addition to easy-to-understand practical card meanings, the LWB also provides a shortlist of keywords.

In total there are 39 cards in this deck, the standard set of 36, the bonus card Alcohol, and an extra version of both the Man and Woman cards. You know what would have been a very cool addition? Integrating the eight trigrams– 8 x 4 cards = 32 cards with ba gua trigram correspondences + 4 cards for the esoteric 9th “trigram” xuan 玄.

If you are an avid fan of wuxia novels, the Three Kingdoms, Legend of the Condor Heroes, with that Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon vibe or the like, then you’re going to love the Arcana Jianghu Lenormand as a collectible.

The ink and watercolor paintings are iconic of traditional Chinese art styles and the brushwork here is superb. In the Chinese art world, they say that with great art, you can tell the artist’s personality from the line work, compositions, and coloring. If that is so, then here we see an artist who is well-mannered, philosophical in nature, and temperate.

Buy the Arcana Jianghu Lenormand ($17.99 usd)


FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received this deck from the publisher for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.

One thought on “Arcana Jianghu Lenormand by Li Sha and Wang Xiao Po

  1. Grete

    This is beautiful❣️ These cards talk straight to my Japanese heart in a visual language that my heart understands.
    Thank you for sharing it.


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