These pair of antique wooden figurines were hand-carved in the early 1900’s from chestnut wood in Brittany, France. Furniture from Brittany has a distinctive style, full of whimsy, despite being extremely practical. Figures like these were often carved into the frontage of cabinets and buffets. Sometimes, the figures would be carved separately from the storage piece and be used as finials or columns.
The figures depict a man and a woman dressed in traditional pardon attire seen in the Brittany region of northwest France. A pardon is a Catholic pilgrimage synonymous with the Breton-speaking communities of Western Brittany. During the ceremony, parishioners would ask their patron saint for forgiveness for sins committed. This led directly to the English use of the word pardon, meaning “to forgive an offense”.
Brittany has an interesting history, originally being inhabited by Celtic tribes as early as 6th century BC. To this day, Brittany is still considered one of the six Celtic nations. This explains why the pardon attire represented in our statues is Celtic based. Both figures are wearing sabot, a type of work clog that can be traced back to Celtic wooden shoes that featured upturned toes. The man is wearing bragou braz, which are a type of knee-high pants with billowing legs. He also has on an embroidered waistcoat underneath a short jacket. His long hair flows from underneath a wide-brimmed hat adorned with a flowing ribbon. The woman is clad in an ankle-length dress topped with an embroidered apron with large epaulets. Her hair is covered by a lace coiffe, which is perhaps the most well-known article of clothing in Brittany. Each commune of Brittany has its own style coiffe and the way it is worn reveals the woman’s marital status.
Our lovely hand-carved 20th century wooden figures reflect the unique culture of Brittany. They would make fabulous accessories for any style house and can be placed on a fireplace mantel or a side table.
CONDITION: Wear commensurate to age and use with light nicks. A few minor losses and age separations (more so on the male figure), but otherwise in very good antique condition.