The Knife Grinder - the Fifth (5th) Essential Santon for a Provençal Creche

Posted on September 16, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Knife and Scissors Grinder - Le Remouler (French) - L'Amoulaire (Provençaux) – is number 5 on the list of the top 20 Essential Santons for a Provençal Creche. He is available in all four Marcel Carbonel Santons sizes offered by My Growing Traditions.


He wears an apron of hide, holds a knife, and has a watering can in place for use in sharpening his knives on his grindstone.

He is known in the folklore as Pimpara and for being one of the "cheapjacks," otherwise called beggars, tramps, or gypsies. He travels the roads selling his services, dipping into villages on his way. From village to village he enjoys taking with him the local gossip, embellishing as he goes. Entertaining he is and ever so cheerful. The villagers, in fact, invest in his cheerfulness. He does not make that much money, so he is given a little tip in the form of a "chicoulon," a little glass of drink. Everyone looks forward to seeing him.

In keeping with his being a "cheapjack," there are references to his bad temper and evil ways. "Some santon makers have created a knife grinder with a truly devilish look, because this itinerant tradesman does not enjoy the best of reputations." And the folklore has it that seeing the Christ Child softens him and that in fact the miracle he receives upon arriving at the Stable is to be cured of his drunkenness. (Foley, p. 120)

The Knife and Scissors Grinder derives from one of the  most famous Provencal Christmas plays, Antoine Maurel’s Pastorale.  He is one of the oldest Santons characters.  Daniel Foley writes that Leon Simon (1845-1916), a professional sculptor and a member of a famous Santonnier family, was the first to create a Santon in commemoration of the Knife Grinder.

Posted in Carbonel Santons, Provence Christmas



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