It is unlikely that historical jesters wore the stock costume of ‘cap and bells’ so visible in medieval and some later iconography, and so prevalent in the Western conception of the court jester. So I was delighted and intrigued to spot this 17th century leather jester’s cap in the Victoria & Albert Museum – I just happened to be ambling about and there it was. It’s the first cap and bells I’ve seen which isn’t a modern re-make of the medieval fool’s ‘uniform’.
Beautifully crafted with four bell-tipped lappets (one for each point of the compass, surely), one would love to know who made it, and at whose instigation. How was it used (one hopes it was used rather than being a mere decorative item)? Was it worn as part of a carnival or a court entertainment? Was it worn by a professional jester?
Oh, dear cap, do tell us your tale.
Image credit: Jester’s cap of leather, Germany, 17th century, © Victoria & Albert Museum, London