Popular  Folk Characters

Clowns often teach through laughter by exaggerating or poking fun at what otherwise is serious. This folk character is generally either good or evil and has the ability to transform the ordinary into extraordinary. They do so by elaborating and/or reversing common beliefs and expectations.

They have been around for a very long time. From ancient Egypt (2400 B.C.) to today, they have been entertaining people. Witty, funny or downright sinister, they have served very special roles in the societies where they appear. For example, the Hopi Kashari (clown) not only helps to educate children about how to behave in society, but also reports back to the weather gods who are responsible for the much-needed rain in their dry, high altitude climate, about whether or not their behavior has been acceptable.

Here is an overview of 3 basic types of clowns:

A mime is an artist who makes use of physical movements rather than speech to tell a story. This style of clown originated in Greece.

There are 4 kinds of clowns: the whiteface, the character and the auguste. They can wear over the top makeup or not. The whiteface clown is the oldest form. White paint foundation would be applied to neck and chest and then red triangles would be drawn on his cheeks and lips. The character clown has a specific role: policeman, a husband, cook, etc.  Makeup includes warts, mustaches, glasses and more. The auguste (also known as red clown) is more often than not adored with over the top stripes and polka dots on his costume. This clown is often the one being making fun of.

A jester was expected to amuse or entertain a lord or other honorable people of the court. Today these clowns appear at markets or fairs and are often very talented in telling tales, doing magic, and acrobatics.
Clowns can provide much needed relief as well as information about what is appropriate behavior. They teach by example and they also celebrate the imperfections of our humanity.

To learn more about folklore:

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