Great pastimes of yore

“One of the most singular innovations was the sport of fox-tossing [fuchsprullen], in which the court ladies took a prominent part. This fox-tossing consisted…in tossing animals into the air by means of canvas or cord tossing slings which were narrow bands some twenty five feet long, held at both ends by the two tossers. This game was usually played in the large courtyards of royal castles, about which a high canvas screen was stretched so as to prevent the animals escaping. As the terrified foxes or other game were running wildly about the inclosure, leaping over the slings, the center of which rested on the ground, it behooved the tossers to jerk the animals into the air as forcibly as their strength permitted. Skilled male tossers could toss a fox twenty four feet high. To prolong the sport the ground was covered with a thick layer of sand or sawdust, so as not to kill the wretched animal at the first toss. A great number of couples - generally a lady and gentleman were partners - could participate at the same time, and the quantity of game thus slaughtered on great occasions was something almost beyond belief, the rivalry between the separate couples giving additional zest to the cruel amusement.

...it was left to Duke Louis of Brunswick to add a further element of grotesque absurdity to this amusement by inventing masked fox-tossings. Not only did the players put on bizarre costumes, dressing themselves up as Dianas, sprites of the wood, nymphs, hobgoblins, centaurs, sphinxes, and other creatures of mythology, but these master-buffoons did the same thing to the animals they tossed. By means of cardboard, bits of gaudy cloth, and tinsel, the wretched foxes and hares - these latter being the favorites for this purpose - were dressed up in the most fantastic manner imaginable, unpopular personages or political foes being represented in as lifelike a manner as possible. At the end of this farcical buffoonery, when the layer of sand in the great courtyard was sodden with the blood of the wretched hares and foxes, the whole company of courtiers, cavaliers, and noble ladies finished off the day's "sport" by a torchlight masquerade through the rambling park of the chateau..."
 - The Century Magazine.

SEE ALSO: Animal stacking (tieraufstapelung).

Comments

  1. Preident O. Bongo of Gabon has died. This is a sad day for Bongos everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  2. And a sad day for Gabon. Arguably if it weren't for Bongo Gabon would be little different from Ghana.

    ReplyDelete

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