The Fisherman - the Sixteenth (16th) Essential Santon for a Provençal Creche

Posted on June 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Fisherman is number 16 on the list of the top 20 Essential Santons for a Provençal Creche. He is a pivotal figure in Provence, whether he works with his nets in the sea, or, as an angler, casting his pole into a local stream. As a Santon, his origin is in the early nativity plays and creche-parlant. Foremost, he is a classic figure of the Port of Marseille and its very important fishing trade of the Mediterranean. Fish, whether freshwater or from the sea, are basic to the Provençal diet. The Carbonel Santons workshop has created variations of each.

The Fishermen of the sea are represented by the Fisherman with a net - Pécheur au filet (French) - Lou Pescadou (Provençaux), available in all 4 sizes.

and the Octopus Fisherman - Pécheur au poulpe, in Size #3


They wear a seaman's jersey, have the trousers rolled up to their knees, wear red cotton caps on their heads, and are barefoot.

The Fishermen of freshwater are represented by the Angler – Pêcheur à la ligne (French) - Lou Pescaire (Provençaux), available in all 4 sizes.


and the Seated Fisherman – Pêcheur Assis, in Sizes #2 and #1


These two seated anglers are perfect to place by the side of a stream, or next to the bridge.

Of course, one cannot think of the Fisherman without thinking of the Fishwife - number 14 of the top 20 essential Santons.

Frederic Mistral, a Provençal poet, a winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1904), and a champion of the Occitan language (of which Provençaux is a dialect) of southern France, famously celebrated the Provencal fisherman in his epic poem of 1867, Calendal. In creating Calendal (the word "Calendula" is the Provençaux equivalent of "Noel" and was commonly given to each child born on Christmas Day), an anchovy fisherman from Cassis, Mistral invented "the Christmas fisherman." Calendal conquers monumental tasks, including inventing "ingenious fishing devices to bring all the fish of the sea into the port..." to win over his sweetheart, half-princess/half-fairy, Esterelle, a descendant of the Lord of Baux. The poem, a tribute to Provence, put Cassis on the map and sealed the importance of the Santon Fisherman. Calendal is commemorated in a statue by the harbor made of limestone from Cassis. As Mistral is often quoted: "He who has seen Paris and not Cassis has seen nothing."

Provençal legend tells us that before making his way to the manger, the fisherman first had to catch a fish to take as his gift. He "spent the night on the river, casting in vain. The water was cold and his hands were freezing,... A friend along the riverbank shouted the news of the Christ Child's birth. When a great trout overheard...." (Foley, p. 115) he took the bait deliberately, not to be left behind those wanting to see Jesus. Thus, the fisherman was able to successfully present the gift of his trade to the Christ Child.


Posted in Carbonel Santons, Provence Christmas



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