The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Androgyny

This court jester, as depicted here on the cover of a 1926 Hanna Theatre (Cleveland, Ohio) playbill, is typical of portrayals of this figure throughout history. The position of court jester became popular in the middle ages as both entertainment and comic foil to the king's authority. Many court jesters were thought to be severely mentally ill and were thus given leeway to make statements challenging the king's wisdom which would otherwise have been considered treacherous.

Being both wise and foolish, funny and serious, jesters were highly bifurcated characters as seen in their traditional costume which had leggings of different colors and bejewelled and belled headdresses divided in the middle by different colors. Such elaborate and specific constumes placed jesters firmly within their own social and cultural category which may explain why they are often portrayed as androgynous.


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Court Jester

Androgyny Image