France Folklore Part II

France Folklore 2

Popular jewels do not present, for the most part, originality: sometimes the persistence of the Merovingian technique is noted; but for the most part, as a form, they depend on the Italian Renaissance. On the other hand, except for the silver ones, made in the villages, they were bought in the cities, where the workers were influenced by the large centers. Another part of clothing that once presented great variety was footwear: the Musée de Cluny (Paris) has a nice collection of them. But since the middle of the century. XIX the footwear has become uniform in all the provinces and now a certain variety is noticeable only in the decoration of the clogs. The male costume everywhere became uniform much more rapidly than the female one.

One field in which France has stood out is that of popular images. Almost everywhere there have been real schools of wood engravers, which, from the century. XIV onwards, they made loose sheets to distribute among the populace of the countryside. Besides Paris, which has had numerous important workshops, we must mention those of Épinal, Metz, Lille, especially Orleans (from which true masterpieces came out), Chartres, Nantes, Quimper. The true region of the woodcutters was the center and east of France; but there were also southern shops (Toulouse, Avignon, etc.) whose production is unfortunately largely lost. The workers changed shop easily; for the most part, they copied themselves without scruples; finally, in the event of death or sale, certain printing houses bought entire fonds of engraved wood, and the new owners contented themselves with chiselling the place of origin. This often makes it very difficult to identify ancient wood carvings. Most of the small books disseminated by colporteurs were adorned with one or more figures of the kind: above all the printing works of Chartres, Troyes and Lyon specialized in this popular production and some of those woods are true masterpieces of strength and ingenuity.

According to Historyaah, folk art also manifests itself in terracotta and ceramics. Some factories (Strasbourg and Lorraine villages; Rouen and region; Nevers and region; Marseille and region) have acquired great fame and their products have spread all over France. The small local factories have been innumerable; but the study of these is only just beginning, although museums and private collections possess rich series. For terracotta, each region had its own preferences: the products of Provence, the cruets of the Avignon region, the terracotta roof decorations of Morvan and Normandy are particularly noteworthy; the glazed bricks of Alsace. In this region we must also report the manufacture of large tiled stoves, of the type widespread throughout Germany and Switzerland. The art of wood carving was also used to decorate household utensils of all kinds, especially for women, such as conocchie and spinning wheels, butter stamps, boxes, caskets and salt shakers; finally the furniture. Rural furniture, indigenous in the matter, is rarely so in decoration. The carpenters and cabinetmakers of the villages worked mainly to order and therefore imitated the furniture of the nobles and rich people of the country, who in turn followed the taste of the local courts or of Paris. But the transposition of the styles has always occurred with a greater or lesser delay; at the end of the century. XVIII, in the provinces furthest from Paris, furniture was still made in the Louis XIII or Louis XIV styles. Only in the coffins have the most ancient traditions been preserved. In Normandy and the Alps, in Brittany or the Pyrenees, still today there are some decorated in the Merovingian styles (with rose windows and geometric ornaments), Romanesque (with columns), Gothic, etc. These linen or timber coffins later underwent the influence of the Italian Renaissance, especially in Provence and the Alps, but also in Paris and the surrounding region. All the provincial museums contain rich collections of local furniture: but a visit to these museums proves that very few so-called rural furniture possesses real characteristics compared to the Parisian ones,  except for being less beautiful and coarser. Among these local museums, the richest and best ordered are the Muséon Arlaten (Arelatense Museum) in Arles, the Alsatian museum in Strasbourg; the Basque museum in Baiona, the Auvergne museum in Clermont-Ferrand. But almost every city and numerous villages have very remarkable local museums: like Quimper, Loches, Chambéry, Annecy, Marseille, etc. One of the most beautiful and complete, the Musée champenois in Reims, was bombed and set on fire by the Germans in 1915.

Popular theater which, in the form of mysteries or sotiesmoralités or allegories (see paragraph: Literature) played such an important role in medieval France, is now only represented in some regions by puppet theater and puppets. Currently the main center of this production, often in the local dialect, is Lyon; but in Lille and other northern cities there is also a tradition that has its best representatives in the Walloon provinces of Belgium. Undoubtedly, the characters of this puppet and puppet theater are people of the people, who speak the language of the people; but the authors of the sets and comedies are true dramatic authors and the scenarî themselves, like îand as a psychology, they are close to the major theater or at least to the farces of Molière. The itinerant puppeteers, who in the century XVIII, very numerous, ran through the country fairs and markets and the streets of the cities, have completely disappeared for about a century.

France Folklore 2