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Harlequin in motley attire, year 1761 by Maurice Sand

Motley refers to the traditional costume of the court jester or the harlequin character in commedia dell'arte. The latter wears a patchwork of red, green and blue diamonds that is still a fashion motif.

The word motley is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as a cognate with medley, although the unrelated mottled has also contributed to the meaning. The word is most commonly used as an adjective or noun, but is also seen as a verb and adverb. When used as a noun, it can mean "a varied mixture."

The word originated in England between the 14th and 17th centuries and referred to a woolen fabric of mixed colors.[1] It was the characteristic dress of the professional fool. During the reign of Elizabeth I, motley served the important purpose of keeping the fool outside the social hierarchy and therefore not subject to class distinction. Since the fool was outside the dress laws (sumptuary law), the fool was able to speak more freely.

Likewise, motley did not have to be checkered and has been recently thought to be one pattern with different colored threads running through it.

“Motley is the only wear.”
--Shakespeare: As You Like It, ii. 7.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Apparel Search Glossary "Motley." Retrieved on: December 4, 2007.

External links

  • National Guild of Jesters (UK) Hall of Fame. Various examples of motley.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Database error article)

From LoveToKnow 1911

(There is currently no text in this page)


Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to James Motley article)

From Wikispecies

(1822-1859)


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