The ploughman’s fool

This hand-coloured aquatint dates from 1813 and illustrates a custom connected with Plough Stots, a form of traditional sword-dance from Yorkshire.   The core group of six dancers are accompanied by other characters, including a fool.  According to the Science Museum:

Plough stots is performed on Plough Monday, in January at the start of the agricultural year. The ploughmen dress in character and go through their village dragging the plough and acting the fool.

Note the costume leans towards the particoloured outfits we traditionally associate with fools, with variegated ribbons edging the waist and leg-bands, and wrapped around a kind of pony tail.  The ribbons also echo Morris dancing costumes. 

Image credit: The Fool Plough (1813), Robert (1769-1832) & Daniel Havell (d. 1825/6), published by Robinson & Son, Leeds; Plate 11 from: The Costume of Yorkshire (1814); © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London

 

Image credit: The Fool Plough (1813), Robert & Daniel Havell; © The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum, London
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