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The Origin of the Harlequin

Harlequin (Arlechino) is probably the best known character from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte which was popular during the 16th century. They had their origins in street performers who wore masks to draw attention to themselves, eventually the story they acted became more complex and Commedia dell’Arte was born. It was full of bawdy comedy and slapstick and was the early forerunner of Vaudeville and music hall.

The object that is held in the Harlequin's hands on the club logo which is often mistaken for a sword is, in reality, a slapstick (batocchio in Italian) - a baton made from two laths of wood that, when used to hit someone, makes a loud noise - which gives its name to the comedy style.

The three main masters in Commedia dell’Arte were ‘El Capitano’, ‘Pantalone’ and ‘El Dottore’ all of which displayed various degrees of arrogance, stupidity and greed and they were served by zanni (servants) the most popular being Harlequin.

Harlequin's main characteristics were agility, energetic, acrobatic, immense sexual appetite, prankster. Harlequin's love interest was Columbine.

If you want to know how the rugby club became known as Harlequin FC read the club history on the official club site.