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Jouets séditeux


Jouets séditeux
[French: jouets = toys; séditeux = seditious, subversive]
Lathe-turned wooden figures, often steles, seals or walking-stick knobs, lit from behind so that they cast a shadow on the wall.

jouets séditieux

The shadow image turns out to be a silhouetted profile, usually of a political personality.
Remarkably, a unique French chess set survives from 1810 in which all the pawns and, significantly, the bishops (known in French as ‘fools’) bear the profile of Napoleon Bonaparte. When their shadow is cast on a wall, a secret political allegiance is revealed.