A Brief Walk Through Clown History
For this new blog series we will visit the different eras of clown history, from the Egyptian Empire to the modern day.
Exploring the ways clowning has changed and morphed into what we see, and how clowning was perceived during a time long ago.
First Thing First
Before we go into the Egyptian Empire, allow me to first touch on a subject that is important to mention.
The term “clown” didn’t exist until around the 16th century. Obviously they didn’t have the term “clown” in Egyptian times. Clowns, also, throughout history, haven’t always worn makeup or big shoes and a red nose.
Those things aren’t what make clowns “clowns”. The one thing that does, is the inherent need to make others feel good and laugh. That, my friends, is the true definition of a clown.
The first recorded findings of clowns were around the 5th dynasty of the Egyptian Empire.
Ancient Egypt, roughly 5000 years ago, used to keep African Pygmies known as Dangas in the Royal Courts to amuse the Pharaohs and Royal Families.
They dressed in leopard skins and strange masks and danced and imitated the Egyptian Gods, such as Bes (the God of Dance and Battle).
The Egyptians had a complex view of humor that we can definitely see in our own society. They enjoyed impressionist comedy. Like we do.
It was thought that clowns also served a socio-religious role as the priest often played the clown role as well. Kind of like what we have today with chaplain clowns or ministry clowns.
The Egyptians clearly understood that clowns had an important role in society. That they were to be respected. As they bring good health to those who watch them perform.
Other Fun Facts
The first idea of a circus was also found in the Ancient Egyptian Empire. Along with the Roman Empire as well, but we will get to that in another blog.
Juggling was also prominent in Egyptian culture. It was seen as meditative and even a form of magic. There have been hieroglyphs found of juggling dating back 5,000 years.
Acrobatics and other circus arts were also found in hieroglyphs.
Along with those, the famous magic trick known as the “cups and balls” was also found in hieroglyphs.
Be sure to stay tuned as we travel along the timeline of clowning history. Tracing our art back to its roots and learning that some stuff just never changes.
It’s pretty neat to know that some of the things we do today as clowns have been practiced for thousands of years. This is a serious art form that has tremendous history.
Something to share with the next guy who questions your choice in being a clown, haha.