Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hesteyade de Bigorre

The Hesteyade de Bigorre is the festival of Pyrenean song and tale, since 1978.
Bastien Miqueu envisioned the return of the singing tradition of mountain countries Béarn and Bigorre.It is part of a geo-cultural area; typically Béarn and Bigorre, but stretching outside these borders as well.
The concept of reliving this singing is to develop this multi-voiced practice in compliance with the social, aesthetic and structural codes that have its origins in the traditional Pyrenean society.
Needless to say, berets are well represented during the festival, and on the arty posters too!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Eths Bandolets

More than a group of singers, they are a real institution from Bigorre. 
The Bandolets, three friends who started their adventure together in the tent at the festival of Hesteyade Ibos, and who continued on 5 continents, from Australia to New York via Paris.
Traditional in every respect, to their own Occitan language and fiercely anti-centralist.
30 years old, their latest album Chants des Bars Aux Nids was released earlier this year. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Border Cyclists with Basque Berets

Similar to the Belgian Chasseurs Ardennais who wore/wear Basque berets (in loden-green), there used to be another regiment in the Belgian military that wore Basque berets: the Border Cyclists.
The soldiers and officers of these units wore dark navy large diameter berets with a bicycle wheel as their regimental badge.
The Regiment of Border Cyclists was founded in the second half of the 1930’s as light, mobile units for the forward positions near the border. The original vision to attract professional soldiers and thus ensure better operability was never realized – the regiment consisted mainly of drafted soldiers.

During the mobilization pre-WWII, regiments received a number of T13 armored cars. The Border Cyclists then got their own training battalion with both new recruits and exempted reservists, later on to be attached to the Regiment of Chasseurs Ardennais.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Transhumance in the Vicdessos

These pictures come from the blog of Martin Castellan, taken in  the Vicdessos valley near Tarascon (Ariège). 
It portrays the transhumance, the movement of cattle and sheep to the mountain pastures in spring. 
Huge flocks, a few shepherds and a good number of enthusiasts helping to get the animals up. 
It shows perfectly well why the beret has become the headgear of choice for the Pyrenean shepherds; shielding their eyes from the sun and bright light, protecting the head and shoulders from rain. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Felix Nussbaum

Felix Nussbaum ( 1904 – 1944) was a German-Jewish surrealist painter. 
Nussbaum was born in Osnabrück, Germany, as the son of Rahel and Philipp Nussbaum. Philipp was a World War I veteran and German patriot before the rise of the Nazis. He was an amateur painter when he was younger, but was forced to pursue other means of work for financial reasons.
Nussbaum was a lifelong student, beginning his formal studies in 1920 and continuing as long as the contemporary political situation allowed him. Heavily influenced by Vincent van Gogh and Henri Rousseau, he eventually paid homage to Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carrà as well.
In 1933, Nussbaum was studying under a scholarship in Rome at the Berlin Academy of the Arts when the Nazis gained control of Germany. Adolf Hitler sent his Minister of Propaganda to Rome in April to explain to the artist elites how a Nazi artist was to develop, which entailed promoting heroism and the Aryan race. Nussbaum realised at this point that, as a Jew, he could not remain at the academy.
The next decade of Nussbaum's life was characterised by fear, reflected in his artwork. In 1937 he married Felka Platek during their exile in Brussels.
After Nazi Germany attacked Belgium in 1940, Nussbaum was arrested by Belgian police as a "hostile alien" German, and was subsequently taken to the Saint-Cyprien camp in France. The desperate circumstances in the camp influenced his pictures of that time. He eventually signed a request to the French camp authorities to be returned to Germany. On the train ride from Saint Cyprien to Germany, he managed to escape and rendezvous with Felka in Brussels, and they began a life in hiding. Without residency papers, Nussbaum had no way of earning an income, but friends provided him with shelter and art supplies so that he could continue his craft. The darkness of the next four years of his life can be seen in the expression of his artwork from that period.
Philipp and Rahel Nussbaum were killed at Auschwitz in February 1944. In July, Nussbaum and his wife were found hiding in an attic by German armed forces. On August 2 they arrived at Auschwitz, and a week later Felix was murdered at the age of 39.
Felix Nussbaum’s artwork affords a rare glimpse into the mind of one individual among the victims of the Holocaust. In 1998, the FelixNussbaum Haus in Osnabrück opened its doors to exhibit the artworks of Felix Nussbaum.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Un béret français, by the Prévert brothers, 1932

This beautiful clip shows the brothers Prévert, in 1932, in one of the funniest beret-films I have seen to date!
Jacques Prévert was born on February 4, 1900 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Hauts-de-Seine, France as Jacques André Marie Prévert. He was a writer, known for The King and Mister Bird (1980), Les Enfants du Paradis (1945) and Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (1936). He was married to Janine Tricotet and Simone Dienne. He died on April 11, 1977 in Omonville-la-Petite, Manche, France.

Pierre Prévert was born on May 26, 1906 in Paris, France. He was a writer and director, known for Adieu Léonard (1943), Voyage surprise (1947) and The Man from Chicago (1963). He died on April 6, 1988 in Paris.

Monday, May 25, 2015


Yes, back from my grand trip across the world; loaded with information and all kinds of material relating to berets.
All news will be related here and on Fb soon, but let's begin with some really positive news: The Killing of Basques is Now Banned in Iceland!
The Icelandic district of Westfjords repealed a 400-year-old decree to kill any Basque caught in the area on sight. “The decision to do away with the decree was more symbolic than anything else,” said Westfjords district commissioner Jonas Gudmundsson. “We have laws, of course, and killing anyone– including Basques – is forbidden these days.”
The edict was issued in 1615 after a storm destroyed three Basque whaling vessels on an expedition in Iceland. Eighty members of the crew survived, said Gudmundsson, and were left stranded in the area. “They had nothing to eat, and there were accounts of them robbing people and farmers,” he said.
The commemorative event in Holmavik with Jónas Guðmundsson, Sherriff of the West fjords in Iceland
The brewing conflict between locals and the whalers prompted then-sheriff Ari Magnússon to draw up a decree that allowed Basques to be killed with impunity in the district. In the weeks that followed, more than 30 Basques were killed in raids led by the sheriff and local farmers. “It’s one of the darkest chapters of our history,” said Gudmundsson, noting that the incident known as the Slaying of the Spaniards ranks among the country’s bloodiest massacres.
Four centuries later, Gudmundsson decided it was time to set right the wrongs of history. Last month, at the unveiling of a memorial dedicated to the Basque whalers who were killed, he repealed the decree. “This decision was made 400 years ago and it has never formally been repealed until now.”

Friday, May 1, 2015

Last Post, For A While...

Today, this 1st of May, is the last proper post on The Beret Project for three weeks. Tomorrow I'm off for a trip to the Netherlands, France and Spain.
Meetings with the various manufacturers, looking at new models, exchanging ideas on berets, promotion, etc; research in local Bearnaise libraries; research in the field (finding the locations and possible remains of vanished beret factories) and yes, a bit of a vacation too.
But, I wouldn't interrupt some 7 years of daily posts... For the next 3 weeks then, an inspiring, funny, sexy, weird or fashionable picture only.

See you later this month!