We have always found Marcel Carbonel's pack donkeys to be very special. They are one of our favorite figures and are definitely more than cherished by our customers.
Carbonel provides us with three pack donkeys - the Donkey with baskets of fruit, the Donkey with sacks of flour, and the Donkey with fagots (bundles of wood). Shown here is the Donkey with Fagots in Size #3 - Click here to find them in Sizes #1 - 3.
Personally, our first experience with pack donkeys was in Morocco in the mid-1960s. Travelling in southern Morocco we would experience them in the mountains, traveling with their families, packed to the gills with all their possessions, young animals, and the youngest members of their families alike. We early learned to slow our pace to allow them to prevail on the road. Although not taken by us nor in Morocco, this photo always brings back those wonderful memories.
Memories that come to mind as we wrap up your pack donkeys ever so carefully - knowing how much joy they will bring you!
It turns out the donkey of Provence is special to us, and ever so special to Provence.
They came close to dying out. But, the people of Provence have made certain that would not happen.
They were especially bred for strength to help shepherds with sheep herding and the seasonal migrations - transhumance. The earliest records of Shepherds of Provence using pack donkeys dates to the fifteenth century, particularly during the seasonal migrations between the low ground where the sheep over-winter and the high alpine pastures where the sheep spend the summer months.
The donkeys of Provence were selected for their solid bone structure for carrying heavy loads, their docile temperament and good legs to carry them along the shepherds' migratory paths. The donkeys are outfitted with pack saddles that carry the equipment and supplies needed by the shepherds along the journey.
Modern transportation caused a sharp decline in the population of the Provence donkey (13,000 at the end of the 19th century, 2000 in 1956, and 330 in 1993. In December 1992 a breeder's association, the Association de l'Âne de Provence, was formed. They worked with the Haras National, in Languedoc-Roussillon to achieve recognition of the breed. In November 2002 the Provence donkey received the official recognition of the French ministry of agriculture. The current population is estimated at 1500.
One can understand why they are an integral part of Provence heritage and thus, are important figures in the Marcel Carbonel creche.
There is something about Folk Art that just makes one smile - smile and rejoice in this beautiful world we live in!
"Retiring" to the Coast of Maine after working as an editor and having the opportunity to live abroad, the next step was to build a family business that celebrated the people, festivities, traditions, and cultures we had met along our journey. The treasured folk art we collected with family and friends represent discovery and travels, and we came to realize that they cemented our everyday celebrations. Our folk art "collection" has become an important part of our get-togethers, holidays, and personal milestones, bringing to mind so many of our common experiences. As we traveled, time and time again, we found ourselves exploring a culture by seeking out the local folk artists. We discovered the workshops and studios of woodcarvers, glassblowers, Santons craftsmen, French, and German artisans. The work of these European craftsmen, who have put their hearts into their craft, are a daily reminder that art is one of humanity's universal connections. Including their creations in our own daily celebrations, alongside those of our own family, friends, and culture, adds so much meaning to our traditions.
The putting away of Christmas is a thoughtful time - the extended family has returned to their respective homes and we settle down to embracing the work of 2012. As the ornaments are removed and the tree finds a new home on the edge of the yard, we once again reminisce each ornament's history and receive pleasure in knowing that the tree returns to being shelter for the birds. Somehow, even in retirement, we establish new traditions. This year, for the first time, it was the family botanist who placed the greens, tucking them in here and there around our home. They are so artfully placed it is difficult to want to remove them, even with the thought of saying goodbye to the holiday and enjoying the process of "sweeping clean" for the New Year.
We were ever so pleased to have been researching Candlemas, and to have found a reference to the fact that Candlemas, February 2nd, is not only a Christian commemoration of the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, a festival of lights celebrating the half-way point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox (in particular the strengthening of the life-giving force of the sun), but also a designated day for the putting away of the greens of Christmas.
And thus we shall wait. We shall savor the continuing presence of the greens. We do admit that one of the happiest parts of Christmas is bringing the tree into the house--we often reflect as it happens that we don't actually need lights and decorations, that just having the tree inside is perfection, in fact one large perfection in a series of holiday perfections that make the season so meaningful. Now we have something new to look forward to, adding this tradition plus a small celebration of Candlemas on February 2nd. Life is good!