Tuesday 29 March 2011: A motley collection
Immediately I stopped thinking of how impossible it would be to meet this week's challenge, I began thinking. Interesting process. Noticed my collection of playing cards on a shelf in the study, and made the obvious connection. The jester in a mediaeval court was also known as a "fool", and the joker in a pack of playing cards is often drawn to be a jester, therefore fool.
Since I bought the first souvenir pack in the Soviet Union when travelling to the UK with small children (4 years and less than 10 months) and the redoubtable S significantly pregnant with Nø 3 (one wonders in retrospect how such foolhardy colonials could have even imagined doing what was surprisingly uncomplicated, mostly), I have bought more packs on later trips.
The bright joker near the middle of the picture is from the famous black cards designed in 1817 Russia. This edition was reissued in 1967; 150 years later, although we bought them some years after that. The two jokers with feathered hats come from a double set of cards first issued in 1898 as a tribute to the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria.
Two very unfunny men have been featured as the jokers in The Scottish Historical Playing Cards, John Knox and Adam Smith. Perhaps they demonstrate the power that lies with the joker/jester/fool. The pied piper is from a pack featuring Art Posters from the London Underground. There are two featuring standing stones from Orkney as part of the pack issued by Historic Scotland, while the drawing of a 13th century monk comes from a pack depicting famous abbeys. The final one in full motley is from a double pack set which was found during a visit to Vienna.
Motley refers to the jesters costume, thence to a diverse collection of colours, and ultimately to a varied character, or incongruous collection.
What better way to describe my little collection of playing card jokers/jesters/fools.