August 3, 2013

0781 FRANCE (Brittany) - A women from Pays Bigouden wearing "la brouette"

I wrote a little about Brittany and its pays or bro ("country" in French, respectively Breton) here, but if then it was about a dance from Pays Pourlet, the old woman depicted in this postcard is from Pays Bigouden (in Breton, Ar Vro Vigoudenn). As says Romain, she was photographed on the quay of the harbour of Saint Guénolé, one of the four villages which forms the municipality of Penmarch. The area has distinctive customs and costumes, and during the 19th century local costumes became increasingly elaborate and colourful.

Is famous the tall lace bonnet worn by the women, which covered only the top of the skull and extended to a triangle of fabric mounted on a base (la brouette). By around 1900 this had evolved into a tall sugarloaf shape, embroidered with patterns of flowers. In the early 20th century the cap became even taller, reaching 15 to 20 cm in the late 1920s, and even taller just after the WWII, until 2000 hovering between 30 and 35 cm in height.

There is even a story of these bonnets. It's not known whether or not true, but I love it. In the 17th century, Louis XIV created new taxes, especially on salt (the gabelle), and also tried to reduce the rights of women in society. In the Pays Bigouden, women (and salt) had such an important place that an uprising started in 1675, known as la Révolte des Bonnets Rouges (revolt of the Bonnets rouges) in lower Brittany and as la Révolte des Papiers Timbrés (revolt of the stamped paper) in a larger part of West France. Rebels used to communicate and gather thanks to the churches' bells. When Louis XIV managed to suppress the uprising, he cut off 6 steeples from 6 churches in the Pays Bigouden. To show that they can't be defeated, women decided to increase the height of their coiffe, thus proclaiming their belonging to their village and religion. No one couldn't remove this "steeples" on their head.

About the stamps
The first stamps are part of the definitive series Marianne et l'Europe, about which I wrote here. The last one depict a painting by Georges Seurat, Fishing in The Seine, that is part of a series about which I wrote here.

This is a post for Postcard Friendship Friday #179, hosted on Beth's blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy. Click on the button below to visit all the other participants.

Bigouden - Wikipedia
South Pays Bigouden - Finistere Sud official website

sender: Romain Cormier / Postcards of World (direct swap)
sent from Pont L’Abbé (Brittany / France), on 16.07.2013

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