Sunday, 18 September 2011

The hurdy gurdy man (and woman)

The weather recently has been changeable to say the least. Heavy rain, light rain, thunderstorms, interspersed by occasional glimpses of blue sky. So today when it looked as if there might be occasional glimpses of blue sky, I headed off to the local castle where they were having an exhibition, international no less, of basketry and wicker-work. I'm not frantically interested in wicker-work but I most certainly am interested in blue sky.

There were glimpses of blue sky and the sun did shine but as you can see, there were black clouds around just to make sure nobody became too complacent.

In the midst of wandering around all the exhibits, I suddenly noticed music playing and a troupe of folk dancers appeared.

They are a troupe specialising in the local Berry Region music, song and dance.  The Berry is one of the old French provinces, now split into the Cher, Indre and part of Vienne.  The capital used to be Bourges.

The tradition is to wear clogs and most of the dancers were, to my surprise.  It seems to me to be a very special accomplishment to be able to dance in clogs.  They very sensibly wore thick woolly socks inside the clogs. 

The dances seemed relatively sedate.  This one seemed to consist of several steps and a little jump.  I would have loved to have managed a shot of all dancers in the air, but that requires some co-operation from the dancers.

All the dancing was accompanied by players on the vielle à roue, a medieval instrument.  There is an annual festival of music each year of Maîtres-Sonneurs or master players.

Carvings on a nearby church, showing a vielle à roue being played.  I'm not sure of the significance of that, nor of the donkey playing a harp.

After that they disappeared back into the catle, with me in pursuit, taking photos wherever I could.  To follow.

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  1. I just love that castle. It look like it materialized right out of a fairy tale storybook! In fact, I love this whole post. Just when I think you can't top yourself (you have many wonderful posts here) you do. :) I think the folk dancers were delightful. The instruments are very beautiful and look very valuable. I'm sure they are. Do they sound like our hurdy Gurdys or more tolerable? I've heard some can sound quite sweet. Maybe that was compared to bagpipes. :) Looking forward to your followup post to this and to more pictures.

  2. Lovely photos! And the castle is fantastic! Wow!

  3. @Max, they sounded quite good. I enjoyed them. A friend who was there said they sound better out of doors and that in the confines of a room they can be a bit much. Personally I suspect it depends on the tune and the players.

    @Shakespeare, thank you. It is an amazing castle though I'd like it a bit taller. :)

  4. So glad you are still alive!
    The dancers dressed very 'Flanders' like, and the clogs did look very Netherlands. I suppose in the distant past most dressed in similar fashion. That sort of activity at the castles do bring them somewhat to life again.

  5. Please. Where is the church with the musical figures? What village? Thank you.

    1. Hello Dani!
      Those carvings are on the church in St Gaultier in the Indre, not far from Pont Chretien-Chabenet.


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