French Marotte © Kolk17
These days, a Marotte is understood to be a more or less endearing idiosyncrasy, something about a person which is perhaps a little unusual but not necessarily in a negative sense, something which is perhaps not entirely normal and makes that person stand out from the general population. However, a Marotte is in fact (according to Wikipedia), a prop stick or sceptre with a carved head on it – a common tool of the court Jester. The word is of French origin.
Our Marotte is a French stick figure. It is the oldest figure in our collection and dates back to the end of the 18th century. In the picture you can see a framed picture next to the stick figure. In this picture, a court jester is holding a marotte in his hand.
Court jesters have existed since the Middle Ages. Their task was to entertain the rulers and the people living at court with their jokes and jests.
That sounds a lot easier than it was! A good jester had to be intelligent and have fine observation skills. Whether with subtle or crude humour, the jester portrayed the butts of his jokes, often people in the same room as ridiculous!
Such jokes often elicited hearty laughter from the listeners. But the people the others were laughing at often had to put on a brave face and endure.
Because of their freedom as jesters, court jesters could tell the rulers unpleasant truths much easier than a “normal courtier”. The latter often did not dare to do so as their words were not foolishness and they were perhaps fond of having their head attached to their shoulders.
The court jester often walked a knife edge when they dealt with delicate matters or jokes directly to the detriment of their rulers. The Marotte “did” that for him before he literally talked his head off. Anger could then be directed at the character.
It was better for the Marotte to lose his wooden head than the court jester to lose his after all.
By the way: if you read Wikipedia on the term “Marotte”, you will discover our character again!