Sunday, 16 August 2009

vide greniers, coiffes and other Maggie Bryant

As a dyed in the wool “antiquer” I love to scour flea markets and vide greniers whenever I have the chance.
A few weeks ago whilst mooching around a Sunday morning vide grenier, held in a nearby village, I discovered a jumbled up box of reproduction old French postcards.

After leisurely sorting through them I found this charming pair, "Fileuse de Pontivy and a "Jeune Bigoudenn" which I promptly bought to add to my collection of Breton ephemera.

I thought they went well with this vintage book from the 1950’s which I came across at an Antique Fair in Brittany some years ago.

The book is entitled "Coiffes de Bretagne" and was written by Pierre Helias, the photographer was Jos Le Doare.

The costumes of Brittany have fascinated me from the very start of my interest in Quimper faience and this book with its detailed descriptions and superb photography, although now long out of print, is a mine of information. If you ever come across a copy I recommend that you snap it up immediately.

This week whilst rearranging some of my collection of Quimper and Malicorne plates I realised that, despite some minor differences in the artists interpretation these four hand painted plates featuring a simple a Petite Bretonne bear a striking resemblance to one another.

The simple coiffe is somewhat reminiscent of a more elaborate one described in the book as “Giz Ploare” which is traditionally worn in the environs of Douarnenez and was known as the “poch kevnid”.
There is a footnote which adds that the coiffe worn around the port of Douarnenez is a little different and has the nick name “penn sardine”.

Beside faience I also collect Galerie Armoricaine prints and I found both of these on a trawl through the Trocante in St. Lo a few years ago.

This pretty lady with two beautiful children is “Femme de Rosporden” (Finistere) and I think her coiffe is exquisite.

And the lady in this print, about to accept a proposal of marriage perhaps, is “Femme de Guemene (Morbihan)


  1. Author and past blogger Adela Meadows, wrote two very interesting, informative and well illustrated articles about the Traditional Costumes of Finistere for the Club Journal. Copies of both these Journals ( Vol 8 No 2 December 2006 and Vol 9 No 1 May 2007 ) are still available to Club members. If interested please contact Gay Smith at for further details.
    A great reference with beautiful drawings is 'Modes et Costumes Traditionnels de Bretagne' by Rene Yves Creston Available at

  2. Interesting Maggie, thanks for your diligence in bringing us these articles.

  3. Maggie, thanks for sharing this interesting post on the coiffes. The post cards, book, and prints are all charming.

  4. Maggie, I too, adore the costumes and coiffes and the prints showing them so beautifully. Wish I could be along on the treasure hunts! Your photos and blogs are always interesting and informative.

  5. Hi, Maggie, makes me feel like a "plain-headed American!" The coiffes really are a lovely and a wonderful tradition. Thanks for the posting.