A confession for humanity

A Hopi clown gives us an insight into their profound role, which applies equally to jesters.  These clowns are perhaps more public, more directly interacting with the society in which they are embedded, yet in ways which resemble the relationship between rulers and their jesters. 

… the clowns represent us in our misdeeds… the clowns show life as it should not be… the clowns show, mimic the ‘hidden immoralities’ and bring them into the open so we can see where we have gone wrong… This is a small village and people gossip.  Women gossip about men and men gossip about women… Only the clowns can do it in public and get away with it.  They can get away with anything… When we came here to live with the Great Spirit, someone hollered and we looked back and there were the clowns… the clowns show what is the essence of morality… clowning is a public confession for humanity.

Source: A Hopi clown, quoted in Louis Hieb, `The Hopi Ritual Clown: Life As It Should Not Be’ (doctoral thesis, Princeton University, 1972), p. 32

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