Illusions and Magic
And The Playful World of the Circus
From MS of the 14th Century
From "Toys of Other Days"
by Mrs F Nevill Jackson
These very early tricksters, acrobats, and jugglers allowed people to remember that world which they had probably already forgotten when they became adults. If you want to find just a little bit of information on the origins of the very ancient roots of the world of the old circuses of the 19th and early 20th century, and of the worlds of the Magician, the Clown, the Performer, and the Trapeze artist, and how our play today is a part of that culture, then you have come to the right place. The right place to learn where to find information about some of their wonderful and truly magical world, and the "Toys" that they used in some cases to enter that world! We are not a web site on circus history. But we can begin to show you where and how to search for that fascinating information as it just might pertain to toys. However, this area of our web site will be under construction for a long while. Stay tuned for more fascinating history to come!
We hope to provide you with some book references (and even a few VERY TRUSTED links) to help you begin to research this fascinating and wonderful world of history. For further and more detailed information we suggest you go to begin your research at the Research department of Circus World in Wisconsin. http://circusworld.wisconsinhistory.org/
Jessi Wonderfool (Jessi Hoffschildt) is among our most talented clowns today. You can see her Bio here... http://www.jessiwonderfool.com/Video.html ... She writes the following. Kids that never grew up is one way to put it- but it can also be said that kids don't have cultural walls and taboo that have been ingrained in them. Clowns- good clowns- take down the walls in themselves in order to connect and show how human we all are and to laugh at our own self importance. It's more about being concentrated human then being a kid. We just see it in kids more because they are younger and haven't had the stigmas of society put on them yet.
Jessi also writes "Historically Circus has been about testing humanity. The first circuses are really the first Olympics. Juggling and acrobatics in ancient Egypt was to entertain the royalty and gods." Indeed we agree with Jessi totally, knowing that Egyptians held parades with over sized puppets that would simulate the Gods that they knew for instance. These "Puppets" were indeed very highly religious. And these puppets were also very highly ingrained into the history of puppets as we know them today. These folks of early times like Egyptians and Greeks are often seen in old paintings playing with balls. Juggling. Yo Yo's. etc.
Jessi writes "Clowns have a different history. Clowns and Trickster characters can be found in all historic cultures. From the Monkey King of China to the Coyote Trickster God of the Native Americans. They all do the same thing- hold a mirror up to ourselves. Jesters would make fun of kings, Harlequin (Arlequino) mocked the Italian government. Clowns are a reality check- to tell us when we are being stupid as a culture- as a species, and as a person. " At Faire Tyme we have often read of the Old Morality Plays and the resulting Punch and Judy shows that we see now and then today. Coming directly from Harlequin Characters.
For further and more detailed information we suggest you begin your research at the Research department of Circus World in Wisconsin. http://www.theclownmuseum.com/
Interesting books and documentation on the subject
Toys with Common Roots with Circuses, Clowns, and Illusions, etc.
Tristan Christ prepares for Humanette Act
His arms will become the arms of the boy behind
Allowing it to look like the boy is doing magic tricks
This photo at left is a great demonstration of how circus acts can use old or very old toys or games integrated into their shows. Tristan Christ is a very accomplished magician who works among other places for Circus World in Wisconsin. The linked Magic Rings, the tricks with balls and animals and such are so often based on very old toys and/or games with common ancestry. Some may indeed come from toys, but some of these old toys may indeed have come from the tricks of the early magicians.
In a true Humanette act, the puppet hangs around the neck of the head of the puppeteer. The Puppeteer's head becomes the head of the puppet. And you see the short stubby puppet dancing on the lap of the puppeteer and doing all sorts of crazy antics. To see another description please see this video as long as the link still works. Or search for "Men in Coats" to see their act. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSeOKvGu468 The Humanette act begins about half way through the video.
Ancient Egyptians Juggling
From Toys of Other Days
By Mrs F Nevill Jackson
A source of entertainment from so very long ago. Could these possibly be one of the very first toys kids or adults played with? In the form of a pile of sticks to build a little bridge, or anything such? Blocks certainly have always played such an important part in the circus. The box that the elephant or horse stands on. The pile of boxes and the arch forming the door into the rings. The pile of blocks the acrobat uses to balance on. They were everywhere in those circuses and still are today. Possibly even more than ever.
The Yawning Mouth (Jacob's Ladder)
Painting by Bernardino Luini. "The painting was done around 1520. It is the second depiction known up to now to show a conjuring apparatus that was not the cups and balls. And it is the second picture known up to now of a "Conjuring Trick" after L'Escamoteur by Heronymus Bosch which was painted around 25 years earlier." The author describes an etching of the artwork made in 1795 by Francesco Bartolozzi and shows a depiction of it in his book. He mentions that at that time it was thought that the original painting was done by Leonardo de Vinci. Bernardino Luini was a student of Devinci and thus is work is influenced very heavily by him. When magnified the painting clearly shows that the ribbons at that time were actually attached with a nail into the END of the block.
To see the magic, place a dollar bill under the ribbons on one side of the toy. Flip the blocks down and make it disappear. Then, flip again and make it appear again. Or place a one dollar bill on one side and a ten on the other, and make the ten turn into a one.
The Magic Ball
Watch for more information coming soon.
Toys, Games, and Items that May or May not link back to the old circus, magic, and clowns
Bait the Bear and Bull
Bait the Bear - Could this link to Circus Animal performances?
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