Strobridge Lithograph | Barnum & Bailey: 1000 Skits By 50 Original Clowns | 1916 | The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida, a division of Florida State University

Strobridge Lithograph | Barnum & Bailey: 1000 Skits By 50 Original Clowns | 1916 | The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, the State Art Museum of Florida, a division of Florida State University | RINGLING BROS. AND BARNUM & BAILEY™ image courtesy of Feld Entertainment, Inc. RINGLING BROS.® and THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH® are owned and used by permission of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows, Inc.

In the Journal of American Folklore, Lucile Hoerr Charles asks a question that doubles as a survey of clowns throughout the world: “What has the stage buffoon of the Chinese in common with the court fool of the Middle Ages in Europe; and with the stage fool in Elizabethan England, magnificently represented in Falstaff; and with the Badin in France, origin of our term badinage; and with the Spanish Bobo or Booby? How does the Narr and Hanswurst in Germany differ from the comic Vidusaka, stock character of the Hindu drama; or from the early Greek clowns depicted on Corinthian vases; or from the ancient Egyptian god Typhon, probably a deified clown, with his heavy, coarse face and protrusive tongue?”