The acrobatic, multi-colour-costumed Harlequin is best known as one of the zanni, or comic servant characters from the Italian Commedia dell'arte, and later of the Harlequinade.
He may have originated from the Hellequin figure of French passion plays, a black-faced emissary of the devil. Others suggest the name comes from Alichino, one of the devils in Hell mentioned in Dante's Inferno.
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