Man with a Drum - Tambourinaire – the Thirteenth (13th) Essential Santon for a Provençal Creche

Posted on December 09, 2013 | 0 Comments

The Man with a Drum - Tambourinaire (French) - Lou Tambourin (Provençaux) is number 13 on the list of the top 20 Essential Santons for a Provençal Creche. He is available in all four of the Marcel Carbonel Santons sizes offered by My Growing Traditions.


The drummer is distinguished and colorful in his band "uniform." Carbonel has him dressed in a grey, wide-brimmed hat, a black jacket over a white shirt adorned by a red cravate, and white trousers with a broad ban of red wool called a "taiolo" around his wasit.

The man with the drum is a popular figure in the world of Santons. He is no ordinary drummer, being: the earliest Provencal musician, instrumental in the creation of the Farandole, and, to this day, present in Christmas and other important village celebrations.

The Carbonel workshop also offers a Woman with a Drum - the Femme Tambourinaire - in two sizes:  Sizes #3 (Grande) and #2 (Elite).


Their instruments, the "galoubet" (a three-finger holed pipe, record, flute, or fife)

and the "tambourin" (a long cylindrical drum)

are the two instruments traditional to Provence.

The galoubet dates back to 1723 and is a unique pipe that is played only with the left hand. The tambourin dates from the 16th century and is played with the right hand using a hammer called a massette (the massette is shown beneath the galoubets in the photo below). The two instruments, played by one musician at the same time, work perfectly together providing the melody (the galoubet) and the rhythm (the drum).

Daniel Foley, 1959 book Little Saints of Christmas: The Santons of Provence, tells of the legend of "Galoubet" and how it was he who initiated the dance of the Farandole. According to the tale, Galoubet (and, yes, the legend has his name as the same as the name of his flute), the drummer, was playing at a part on Christmas Eve. Midnight curfew came, yet "on that night of nights, no one seemed to have any notion of retiring. So Galoubet played on and the young folks continued to dance. Suddenly a patrol arrived at the square. But it did not disturb him, and  the dance continued. Despite his weariness, he wandered toward the outskirts of the town, followed by the dancers. Early morning risers rushed to their windows to see what was going on.... the dance continued, and as the people of Provence will tell you, this was the beginning of the Farandole, the best-loved of all the folk dances. It had been created to do honor to the Christ Child, and so the merry troupe made their way to the manger, for Bethlehem was close by. Everything had been set topsy-turvy that night, and no one seemed to know why. The dancing stopped and the gaiety subsided as the boys and girls approached the manger, and all knelt down to give their homage. But to Galoubet, prayer was music. It was all he knew. On he went, playing the music of the Farandole." (Foley, p. 110) 

For photos of the history and workshop of Carbonel enjoy our Marcel Carbonel Santons board on Pinterest.

Posted in Carbonel Santons, Provence Christmas



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