SEAMS Tarot brings the colors of Southeast Asia together

Published May 7, 2021, 3:13 PM

by Niccolo Vitug

An exhibit featuring 78 artists from the region will be the event highlight

SEAMS Tarot with Lynyrd-Jym Narciso

Tarot cards have a colorful reputation. The shade it has for you will be affected by your religious beliefs and cultural upbringing. Still, since their appearance in the 18th century as playing cards and their subsequent use in divination, tarot cards seem to be here to stay for better or for worse.

The cards, with the sense of spiritual connection that comes with them, are an interesting presence in a time when people are keen to assert differences. More and more signify their disdain for tokenism—for people who assert understanding while there is a lack of presence, especially in matters that pertain to human rights and dignity.

In the face of such a cultural turn, the people behind South East Asian Myths and Stories (SEAMS) Tarot came together to assemble a 78-card deck with images rooted in local material that they share with each other. This exciting venture is spearheaded by Rowen Ong, a Singaporean whose work is in tarot consultation, and Lynyrd-Jym Narciso, a Filipino tarot artist whose art decks have been published in the US.

Possibly a good way to contextualize SEAMS is through reading about Rowen Ong, whose life is devoted to divination. He learned how to read tarot cards when he was 17, and it is not the only form of divination he does according to his site. Browsing through the content reveals that divination is a spiritual matter not simply concerned with finding winning lottery ticket numbers. It helps people get in touch with their subconscious, which can hopefully help in making better and wiser life decisions.

SEAMS Art Director Narciso, who has been in the work of tarot design and whose work has been published since 2005, points out the currency of tarot today. He identifies tarot’s popularity as signified in Harper’s Bazaar article dated Jan. 26, 2021, wherein a feature of Maria Grazia Chiuri’s collection Le Château du Tarot was given an explanation by astrologer Violeta Lazé. Aside from this, Narciso clarifies that SEAMS “highlights the diversity of the cultures in Southeast Asia but also touches on their interrelatedness.”

It is not surprising, given tarot’s relevance, that tarot enthusiasts might want to have a convention at this time. The ultimate goal of SEAMS is to bring people from the Southeast Asian region together—indeed, sewing the “seams” together—in a tarot convention in 2022 to be held in Singapore. During the convention, the tarot art by the 78 artists involved in the creation of each card in the SEAMS deck will be exhibited.

To prepare for this event, a Kickstarter will be held on May 25, 2021. The goal of this Kickstarter is to build sufficient funds to compensate, via payment and a complimentary SEAMS tarot deck, the tarot artists who contributed their work to the collective effort. A good number of artists aside from himself, Narciso mentions, come from the Philippines: Pergy Acuña, Pepot Atienza, Voltaire Casiño Cada, Ray Ann Fajardo, Martin Malabanan, Gian Carlo Moreno, Mado Obusan, a.k.a. Wati, and Maria Cristina Tinay Sison.

Narciso adds that the tarot art will be first displayed in Singapore. This will be followed by an exhibit in Vietnam, and, as mentioned earlier, a presentation in Singapore in time for the tarot convention. It is hoped that the tarot art will be displayed here in the Philippines as well.

For more information, kindly take a look on the SEAMS Tarot page on Facebook. You may also access their Kickstarter event here.