Thursday, November 26, 2015
The Widow of Noirmoutier
This is one of my vintage French dolls.
My obsession with collecting dolls and telling their stories
started one spring during one of my pilgrimages
to the festival of St Sara la Kali in the South of France.
Near our hotel was a Saturday morning market
and she had a few dolls. I bought the most beautiful ones.
The following day we visited another small village
and I found another table with many many dolls
and the lady offered them ALL to me. Needless
to say I brought them home.
This doll is a widow doll from the island of Noirmoutier,
just off the coast of France. The island has whitewashed
fisherman's houses with blackened wooden
windows and shingle roofs.
I tried to capture the feel of the island in her little handmade cottage.
The main form of employment on the island used to be deep sea fishing.
It is said that there are up to four generations of widows living on this island,
at any given time. They are all widows of fishermen lost at sea!
The widows of Noirmoutier are recognised by their black clothing.
You will see that this widow carries the keys of La Chaitelaine, the housekeeper.
She is a devoted follower of the Blessed Mother and in her right hand she has a tiny chaplet.
She has a beautiful altar made from shells,
a tiny cupboard with an iron, a
copper kettle and some books, as well as
her trusty black coal stove and red enamel pots.
You will also see that she has a widow's 'set'
consisting of a widow's Bible and rosary.