Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Parish closes

The Parish Closes, particularly those of north Finistère (like Guimiliau - pictured above), will of course feature in the new book. They are very special to me and I've enjoyed teaching a course on the subject, including practical visits, from time to time. No consideration of Breton culture could really ignore these supreme expressions of faith, community and artistic achievement. They also represent a period of great commercial prosperity, based on the cloth trade with England, when thousands of locals were involved in one or other of the many stages of process from growing the flax to selling the finished product.
The symbolism of death and resurrection and tales from the story of Christ predominate in the decoration, but there are plenty of oddities from a more pagan tradition including Green Men, monsters and bare-breasted women. What a lot those early saints had to put up with!

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