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Brittany’s Tormented Tailors

The Brittany of yesteryear was not without its popular prejudices, chief amongst these was probably the utter disdain, or even contempt, held for those that practiced certain professions, such as notaries, priests, millers, fishmongers, horse skinners, pie carriers and cesspit emptiers. However, the profession that seems to have once aroused the most scorn in the heart of the rural peasant was that of tailor.

Writing in the early 19th century, the French author and administrator Hippolyte Bonnellier noted a belief current across Finistère, in western Brittany, that tailors were a breed apart; descended from the ancient druids and speakers of a special, secret language that was akin to a modified form of Greek. The Breton author Emile Souvestre noted the same in his book Les Derniers Bretons (1836) but also added that tailors were thought to have been taught how to braid by goats, whose language they were also said able to speak.

Folklore - Tailors - Brittany

The low esteem in which tailors were held can be seen in the old ballads and popular proverbs that have survived to this day. Such sentiments as: ‘It takes nine tailors to make a man’; ‘Who says tailor also says liar’ and ‘A tailor is not a man, only a tailor’, being typical. Some sayings were more savage: ‘I have never met a tailor who was not a fart bladder or had no scabies on his legs or did not carry lice as big as cats’. Others, were simply cruel: ‘A tailor has nothing in his head but a quarrel’ and ‘There is no longer and uglier story than the life of the tailors’.

Some people even refused to acknowledge the tailor with a name; a similar belief in the deliberate denial of the latent power of a spoken name was also noted with wolves and the Devil who were popularly spoken of as Guillou and Polik respectively. To Breton men, tailors were Spindle Dealers, Cutters of Ponytails or Givers of Kisses and if they were acknowledged at all it was by taking off their hats; a gesture usually reserved as a mark of respect offered to older women.

Sadly, the region’s children seem to have been imbued with this disrespect from an early age, as witnessed in an old nursery rhyme that translates to: ‘Listen to me, lice skewer; Come to my house on Thursday, I have three dogs and three cats; All six are naked; Come and make them each a doublet, So that they can go to mass on Sunday.’

Folklore - Tailors - Brittany

When tailors appear in folk tales it is generally as a figure of ridicule or as one possessed of unpleasant attributes such as greed. One story, noted in the 1860s, tells of two tailors, both hunchbacks. One was returning home from a wedding feast where he had played the fiddle until dark. Crossing the Liscuis moor, he encountered a group of korrigans dancing and singing their favourite ‘Days of the Week’ song: ‘Di Lun (Monday), Di Meurzh (Tuesday), Di Mercher (Wednesday)’. Seeing the tailor’s fiddle, the korrigans invited him to join their dance which he did with much aplomb. Not only did he lead their merry dance on his fiddle but he also delighted them by adding another verse to their song: ‘Di Iaou (Thursday), Di Gwener (Friday).’ In their gratitude, the korrigans offered him a choice of two gifts: beauty or wealth. The tailor chose beauty and immediately transformed into a handsome man without a hunchback.

The following morning, the other tailor, astonished to see his friend without his hump, demanded to learn the secret of his miraculous transformation. Having heard all of the night’s events, he decided that he too would risk a dance with the korrigans and that same evening, he hastened to the moor where he found the korrigans just as his friend had described.

Anxious to gain their favour, he proposed to improve their song by completing the days of the week but the korrigans thought the new verse inelegant and sent him home without any gift. The tailor was disappointed at his dismissal and protested loudly, finally pleading: “At least give me what my friend did not want to have!” The korrigans, unmoved by the tailor’s greed, immediately obliged him with an additional hump!

Folklore - Tailors - Brittany

Only in a very few tales does the tailor emerge triumphant from the ordeals that he is subjected to. In these, the tailor is usually pitted against an evil lord or the Devil and wins the day through sheer effrontery or great cunning. In one story, a drunken lord was envious of the great reputation that surrounded the local tailor. Having summoned the tailor to his castle, the lord consigned him to the dungeon, saying: ‘I want to see if you deserve your reputation. I need clothes for tomorrow.’

Locked in his small cell with no means or material with which to fashion a set of clothes for a wealthy lord, the tailor spent all night thinking of how he might solve his impossible dilemma. Hearing sounds outside his cell, he noticed a piece of charcoal on the floor near the door jamb. He quickly picked it up and traced the outline of a long coat on the whitewashed wall just as the door creaked open. ‘Your coat is ready, Sire. All you need do is put it on’, said the tailor. Enchanted by his quick wit, the lord released the tailor but only after showing him the gallows which he had erected to hang him.

Folklore - Tailors - Brittany

Another tale highlighting the impudence of a tailor tells of one brought before a powerful lord for having cheated his household. The tailor argued his case furiously and was startled when the lord broke off from remonstrating with him to rush out into the castle’s courtyard only to return clutching a rooster. “The time of talking is passed. Kill this bird as you wish to be dispatched and I swear, humanely, that whatever you do to him I will do to you.

Having received the lord’s confirmation of his murderous oath, the tailor took the rooster and thrust a finger into the bird’s backside. After withdrawing his finger, he put it in his mouth and looked at the lord, saying: “You will do that, my lord?” The stunned lord could not help but laugh and released the tailor, saying: “You are a stronger man than me!”

Folklore - Tailors - Brittany

Songs tell of tailors who fall from roofs or are thrown into ponds, others that they are owned by their patron saint, the Devil or that they are deceitful or sickly, always hungry or else cowardly thieves and boastful womanisers. One old song likens them to grunting boars with bandy legs who dishonestly retain for themselves a little of the fabric entrusted to them by their clients. Another tells us that the tailor does not deserve his food, nor holy water; he does not even deserve to be buried in consecrated ground. Little wonder then that the region’s tailors were once believed to be afflicted with the Evil Eye, possessing the power to cast misfortune upon man and beast simply by their toxic gaze.

There is no clear explanation for why the people of western Brittany felt so strongly about tailors. Perhaps, like millers, they were believed to keep a little of that entrusted to them by those least able to afford any loss; in this case, fabric and linen? Perhaps the fact that their occupation never placed them in danger or saw them collapse with exertion after enduring hard manual labour in all weathers was a bone of contention. Maybe they were mistrusted because they spent so much time in the company of women? Possibly, elements of all these factors coalesced in the popular imagination.

Folklore - Tailors - Brittany

It is also worth noting that the itinerant nature of the rural tailor might also have caused some to feel ill at ease. With no permanent base, tailors spent all year crossing the countryside, staying in farms only long enough to complete whatever tailoring work the household was unable to do themselves; closely sharing the life and secrets of the household before moving on to another.

Given the contempt felt towards tailors it is remarkable that they were often called upon to act as country matchmaker; a formal role known as baz-valan in Breton on account of the stick of broom that needed to be carried by the holder of this important office. If was often the baz-valan that formally asked, on behalf of the hopeful groom, the prospective bride’s parents for the hand of their daughter in marriage; a ritual held at nightfall that traditionally ended with him singing songs of blessing and praise for the dead as well as the living.

Folklore - Tailors - Brittany

In instances where the conditions of a marriage had not already been agreed upon by both sets of parents, the matchmaker acted as intermediary. It fell to him to inform the families about their morality and standing in the neighbourhood and of the state of their fortunes. A process that often followed an inspection of the farm, its livestock and working implements as well as a look at the contents of the linen store.

Given the stigma attached to tailors, it is worth considering the possibility that they somehow collectively assumed the mantle once worn by certain ‘unclean’ families; belief in whose existence was attested in the far west of the region by the Breton tax collector and amateur ethnographer Hyacinthe Le Carguet as late as 1893. He noted that certain families were believed more predestined than others to certain afflictions on account of their unhealthy blood and that people avoided touching vessels from which such unhealthy people had drunk. Marrying a child from one of these families was also avoided thus compelling these societal outliers to ally only within their social circles at the margins of society.

Folklore - Tailors - Brittany

Le Carguet postulated that this belief in unclean families was tied to the existence, in the Middle Ages, of a group of people who lived apart from others and to whom certain activities, such as rope making, were reserved. He suggested that these unfortunates were descendants of lepers. If this was so, it highlights, painfully, how the prejudices of the present can be conditioned by the long-dead realities of the past.


Published by Bon Repos Gites

Enjoying life in Kalon Breizh - the Heart of Brittany.

146 thoughts on “Brittany’s Tormented Tailors

  1. Mud sticks. It sticks to cultures, religions and peoples alike. Disdain is perpetuated without any regard for the individual because so often we lump big groups together. A pity that nothing has really changed isn’t it? Another great read Colin, thank you

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Many thanks Kate – much appreciated! 🙏

      Sadly, you are right, nothing seems to really change. We humans still carry around our ill-informed, petty prejudices even today. 😔 I am convinced that we need to better mould the minds of the young! What chance did they have back then to form an independent view if their elders sang such songs and they were taught such divisive nursery rhymes etc? 🙄😔

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you! Yes, I know what you mean! 🙂 The more I delve into the old superstitions and stories, the more I see parallels between this little corner of the world and others far away!! 🤗

        Liked by 4 people

  2. This is very interesting. I think you must be right about the reasons being diverse, a bit of jealousy a bit of distrust of those who are not part of our milieu. I wonder what were their origins. I seem to recall that the Garment District in New York City was largely Jewish. It doesn’t seem very fair to so disdain people who make your clothes. I suppose people who had little money made their own, though God knows where they found the time. How complicated human society is! Every week I learn more about those complications. Thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I am very pleased that you found it of interest and appreciate you reading it! 🙂

      Yes, I think it must have been a real mix of fears, jealousies and mistrust that fuelled such distaste for tailors. Once the stories and songs are widely circulated, you have a new generation growing up accepting the prejudice not as an injustice but as the norm! I think there is some merit to the idea that there was once a group of people descended from a closed leper colony but just have no idea how they eventually became conflated with tailors! 🤔😔

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Wow! I’d have never suspected that the profession of tailor could be the target of such scorn. Do you know if such beliefs were held elsewhere in Europe and if they extended into the 20th century as well?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As far as I have been able to tell, this strength of feeling was unique to this little corner. It is certainly not found in other parts of France, nor was it noted in the Breton Marches country to the east.

      It does seem as though these prejudices continued right up until the demise of itinerant tailors and the rise of the sewing machine around the turn of the 20thC. While many of the disparaging ballads and stories were captured from the oral tradition in the 1830s and again in the 1860s, many new ones were recorded by François Cadic in the years immediately preceding the First World War.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Very interesting. Thanks. I may be blogging about a specific tailor this week. If I can find a way to naturally work in a link to your post, I will.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You are very welcome! 🙂 It is a curious set of beliefs and you have to wonder how it survived for so long. I guess the passive indoctrination of the children saw to that! 🙄

        Good luck with your writing. 🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Very weird that tailors were held in such disdain.

    If Adam had been a Breton in the Garden of Eden, whatever would he have said to God when He presented Adam and Eve with skins of animals to clothe them when they discovered they were naked after having eaten the forbidden fruit?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agreed! It just goes to show that people were as judgemental and strange back then as now! 🙄

      Haha, that is a good question! 🤔 Surprisingly, now that I think of it, I have not come across many references of popular attitudes to tanners!! Hmm

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow. Who knew. I have to wonder if the disdain and disrespect for tailors was not societally or ethnically based. Why would you disdain someone who has your appearance in their skillset. Its like getting on the wrong side of restaurant waiters before you get your food. Thanks for the tail-or. Allan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, you are most welcome Allan! 😉
      Yes, these prejudices seem rather extreme don’t they? Maybe some of this started out as envy/disdain for people who did not do manual labour and predominantly kept the company of women? That coupled with the notion that your family secrets might be gossiped about could lead one to be wary? Sadly, if the children were brought up with the sayings and rhymes highlighted here, then you quickly have a society with the same prejudiced mindset! 😦 The ‘good old days’ eh? 🙄😔😢

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am glad that you liked it! 🙂
      Weaving was definitely done at home but usually only producing coarse blankets or lengths of canvas that could be formed into shirts and smocks. However, cutting that heavy material required sharp and expensive tools like scissors and needles which most folk did not have. Some tailors could do everything but most had a speciality, so, when they arrived at your house, some would make trousers and others jackets etc. The advent of the sewing machine would change all this but that did not become affordable here until the turn of the 20th century.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Huh 🤔

    Without a Tailor – you would have no clothes ?? Reminds me of the emperors new clothes lol – do you know that story?

    The moral on that story is … it is always best to trust one’s self, speak honest and stand up for what’s right – if doesn’t feel right don’t go along

    Perhaps tailors did a little trickery which would make people distrust?

    Hahaha hanging out with mostly women …sounds like they were smart

    In high school they used to have guy cheerleaders and they would say – we get to hang with the prettiest girls in school all to ourselves lol

    They joked but was true ✌️😄

    I know men who are hairdressers for same reason – women rule 😄✌️😘

    I’m only teasing that we rule – but doesn’t sound so bad to me 🤷‍♀️

    But yes moving around and not being at a specific location – that would also cause mistrust because are not a permanent part of the society ? Shyster?

    The judgement of people back then doesn’t surprise me – as it is still a thing today 🤷‍♀️

    I did laugh with the
    Powerful lord and the bird 😄😄 …it secured his freedom so it worked lol

    They seem pretty smart to me 🤷‍♀️

    I would have thought a tailor was respected and cherished especially over there in France which has always been fashion Capitol of the world 🤷‍♀️

    Interesting they shunned and mistreated or judged… perhaps they got too used to their freedom and felt safe to be whoever they were …

    Where as you say society stayed in their circles – the tailor didn’t have to be apart of that

    So yeah I can see possibilities of mistrust – I highly doubt they cared 🤷‍♀️ they had their freedoms

    Handle the stuff in one town – there just long enough … and move to the next – before you get bored or known…

    Also hang out with all the women …

    I think the lords were jealous lol 😄✌️😘 they had to stay and live by societies rules and probably hang out with men

    Which sounds better? Lol ✌️

    Sad they got a bum rap – I would be like thank you for my awesome clothes ❤️👏 maybe tip or ask to stay for a warm meal? I would be thankful

    But people be people so whatever 🤷‍♀️ interesting article – as always 👏😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right, in many ways we are still as judgemental today as we were a few hundred years ago. Despite us thinking that we are better than our ancestors (judging again! :-))

      I think that possibly it was a whole mix of things that caused mistrust which then somehow became the established opinion. Millers, who also took one product in exchange for another, were likewise mocked. The added element with tailors was that they stayed in your house while you were out in the fields and I can easily see the folks of the time being jealous (?) or mistrustful. There was also the inflated ‘macho’ element! 🙄

      Now, where is that new coat that the Emperor left for me? 🤔🤣

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha yes… it’s just different times – but people be same

        Were the Millers also travelers from town to town?

        Ahhhh so the tailors stayed in house – ok I see … yeah I can see the mistrust there … think how much trust and appreciation a tailor would have if settled in an area and became known for skills offered

        But I also understand you go where the business is

        Lol … we still have that inflated Macho element today 🙄

        Hahaha – you might not want his stuff? Lol – that is funny 😄😄 I would not want his stuff – he was too vain…

        The 7 deadly sins are pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony and sloth

        Many old stories give lessons on morals with that ❤️

        The 7 virtues are : chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. ❤️

        So tell the emperor he can keep his coat lol ✌️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Millers operated the local mill and it seems they were called names and disparaged because people took them their grain and were never fully sure how much the miller had ground for them and how much he had kept for himself. A little trust would have gone a long way!!

        That is pretty impressive listing the seven deadly sins and the saintly virtues!! I would, in time, have been able to list the sins but sadly not the virtues! 😔

        Liked by 1 person

      3. In my business, sometimes we have people who mistrust and think we nothing more than used car sales people trying to take them for everything

        We would never do that – but the funeral business is one that people don’t wanna talk or think of and once upon a time was not as reputable as it is now…

        Sometimes even in todays day and age… you have corruption – one location within my network had huge scandal – my location that I currently work at had some fraud and embezzlement… I am there to correct that. They give me that location to fix that. Correct the wrongs – and I do

        We lock our doors because one man threatened me over something I had nothing to do with and was trying to correct … they do not pay us enough for what we do and these are losses …

        Also what kinda man threatens a woman who trying to help him – he can bite me

        You get more flies with honey – than vinegar

        I know your tailors and millers – funerals are similar seemingly

        Is because the public doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to if they don’t have to

        But the age we are in and the way you can not trust people in general – adds to the judgement

        Some of us are sincere and trying to help – if you so jaded you can’t comprehend that – I don’t know what to tell you

        I am ruled by a corporation, which dictates what I can and can not do legally

        We have compassion and empathy and work very hard, with little to no recognition and we are not out for any recognition but we are compassionate and we are front line – not the corporation

        In death sometimes one of the stages is anger – they mad over loss and need someone to blame – sometimes that is us… we have compassion and will try to comfort or make right

        Some are just pompous asses like man who threaten – entitled (America)

        And he is business owner – jackass – not a man if threaten a woman – just a piece of shit

        Whatever – yes little trust and humility goes a very long way.

        Everyone knows the sins – but few know the virtues

        Is how the world operates … method of operation “MO”

        That’s ok – I’m absolutely willing to earn trust – but don’t be jackass

        It was over memorial folders that he threaten 😮 so yeah the man has issues so we keep door locked now – you must have appointment

        I am no stranger to proving myself ✌️😘❤️

        Not gonna risk my life for some entitled asshole ✌️😘

        So totally understand your tailors and millers

        I got that!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “You get more flies with honey – than vinegar.” Ha, I had not heard that wonderful phrase before, so, thank you for that gem!! 🤗

        Woah, sounds as if there are way more challenges to your days than I would have thought!! I can understand folks being stressed and not always on best behaviour but, it’s a funeral home and the burial of a loved one, so surely that immediately instils a sense or respect? Even at a subconscious level! 🤔 Gah, people – correction, some people – are just beyond words! 😮😢

        Liked by 1 person

      5. That’s so funny you have never heard that phrase, it has been in my life forever! My grandfather would always say that – but is a popular saying in my world lol

        It is the death of someone’s loved one … emotions be very high

        That particular family is not allowed on premises due to bad behavior

        Most of the time we are treated with respect…

        But some do not understand why takes so long … first of all is only 2 of us… second… they are NOT the only family we have … and 3rd … the state, the county and doctors are also low staff…

        So many reasons – we go as fast as we are able – it is not overnight

        The crematory is also handling 10 funeral homes and they are low staff too…

        Also… we are a funeral home not a kinkos – we do funerals with prayer cards and service folders

        He was mad over one word being misspelled on service folders

        Demanded be fixed – we fixed it… got him fresh and new perfect folders … but he was just furiously mad and that’s when he came at me – I had to ask him to please leave the building 😮 I am security also 😮

        How did my company react to this?

        They refunded him the money for it and made a donation in his loved ones name

        When he got the confirmation on the donation in the loved ones honor – his response was how disappointed he was that it was not a larger donation and complained about that

        I refuse to handle this family anymore!!

        A big boss came to my location to introduce a new big boss – and ask me since when we lock doors

        I said – since him, we 2 woman and nope – I do not feel safe and ok with that man – nope 👎

        He didn’t say a word after that. We continue to keep doors locked and require appointments

        Normally people do not act that way – he is just a pompous Asshole

        Most people are decent and thankful… we give good service – to best of our ability

        We constantly in contact and walk the families through things – we go through this daily and normal people do not… so usually people appreciate that we explain and continuously contact

        We do have crazy things – is the public and at the most vulnerable times

        We see everything from family dysfunction to crazy to having no one … we see everything 😮

        So it depends – you never know what gonna come in!

        Yes some are beyond words 🫤

        But then we also have some who are thoughtful and amazing and appreciate what we do. – makes it worth it ❤️😘

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Nope, never heard it but I think it is a great saying! 😉😊

        I think your last paragraph speaks volumes! 🤗 Those people and those moments ARE what make things worthwhile!! Bless you! 🤗

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Brittany’s Tormented Tailors story so interesting to read 🌹🙏👍🏻Ancient Greek people’s hair style
    and clothing style and simplicity and how to create Greek designers Historical Costumes I read in
    Schooling time 😊👌 Thank you so much for all information you dear friend gave ♥️grace wishes 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post! I never knew tailors were held in such disdain, however as people’s lives are in their clothes, there could be some connection to the idea that since tailors know so much about you, people hoped they would not give their secrets away? I remember a lady telling me once to never speak privately in front of a tailor it the seams will be crooked.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! I am pleased that you enjoyed it! 🙂 Yes, I think a great deal of this strong feeling arose from a variety of little things that caused mistrust and perhaps a little fear that your domestic secrets would be next week’s gossip etc.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Quite an enlightening (and startling) post! Reading your whole blog a few months ago, it struck me that Brittany has a completely different culture and history from the rest of France, and I am beginning to understand why in the rest of the country they are regarded as ‘difficult’ to say the least. Incidentally, in the same way as people in Britain used to start learning French with ‘la plume de ma tante est sur la table’, in the 1950s, people in some parts of France learned English with ‘my tailor is rich’… Envy is such a horrid thing! Anyway, thank you for this most interesting piece of reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! Yes, you are right, there is, or was, a very distinct Breton world-view. Now, while the reasons for that are likely long and varied, the fact that it existed is very true. The Breton Marches seem to have been one dividing line that was then massively reinforced by the Gallo/Breton divide further west! I am sure that someone has done some proper analysis but there is much historical sterotyping of stubborn drunkards and simple Bécassines to be rid of first. 😦

      There are two great quotes about Brittany that have stayed with me a long time. Jacques Cambry, who led the post-Revolution inventory of the province, said: “Each country has its madness, Brittany has them all” 😉 and the comedian Coluche quipped: “Brittany is pretty and it’s not far from France” 😉

      I recall you saying about how struck you were by the misogyny of the place in earlier times and have since uncovered some startling examples! 🙄😔 Maybe those will be for another day.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, when you start lifting old stones, you can often uncover things that might have been better lost! I think mistrust lay at the root of these high (but base!) feelings – without a little trust it is a short journey to suspicion and ‘fear’ 😦 I know one might argue ‘no smoke without fire’ but, even so, this ended in tarring a whole group with a very thick brush! 😔

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Luisa. I am pleased that you liked it! 🙂 I agree, they seem an unusual group to marginalise and demean, especially in the thorough way that seems to have occurred with a whole raft of offensive superstitions about them.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, it seems to have been confined to western Brittany, so, in relative terms a small area but given transport challenges back then a big enough area – 21,000 sq km – indeed.


  10. Fascinating! I know that in America any type of traveling salesmen were not treated with high regard. I have not heard of any particular disdain for tailors. Nor have I heard of any tailors traveling around plying their trade. The korrigans do get around don’t they? I really enjoyed this post and it it’s chosen artwork. Your posts are always so much fun to read! I do look forward to them. Take care!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Susan, I am happy that you enjoyed the read! 🙂
      It is an odd one, isn’t it? I had not made the connection with travelling salesman but now that you mention it, I do see it! Perhaps the famed hospitality of rural folk had its limits when it came to having a group of tailors stay with them for a week! 😉 Haha, yes, the korrigans are like the ancient megaliths – they are everywhere here! 😉


      1. I don’t know — my theory is that it has to do with our being animals. We seem to have an innate need to team up with other humans and part of that team bonding seems to be singling out an enemy. Team sports seem to have channeled some of that, but really we are mean spiriting icky beings that had to be taught compassion by our religions. I don’t get it. Or I get it, I’m not sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is a theory that hangs together! Something primordial, a herd instinct and, of course, if there is an ‘us’ there has to be a ‘them’ 🤔 From there, is can be quite a slippery slope!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yep. It legitimizes unkindness, war, rape, murder…the whole cascade of evil. There’s poor old Jesus with his ONE commandment and here (US) are all the Christian Right doing the completely opposite.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. ‘I have never met a tailor who was not a fart bladder or had no scabies on his legs or did not carry lice as big as cats’. What a wonderful insult but why? How strange that tailors were held in such disrespect. Is it possible that tailors were of a different religion or ethnicity? That was a fab post – who knew???

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes, some of those insults were quite inventive! 😉
      I can see where you are thinking and if there were immediately noticeable differences or anything that made them stand out from their peers, then at least we could hang their bad feelings on that peg! Unfortunately, I have read nothing that indicates these folks were physically or spiritually different from their neighbours! 🤔 And if they were held in such contempt, why entrust them to manage your child’s matrimonial manoeuvrings? Hmm

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I think people should change their mindset to grow. Every generation has different styles. Change is necessary to grow and move forward. I am surprised, How the tailor stitched with animal skins. But you always post a unique article Bon Repos with pics👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are a lot of very curious beliefs in there, aren’t there? Druids, goats, the Devil, secret languages and yet their services were still used! Ha, yes, some of the derogatory descriptors are as strange as the origins’ stories! 🙄😮

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed! I would love to know how it all got started and then sustained for so long for it to become widespread. The only folk that came remotely close to getting this amount of abuse were priests rather than the bailiffs and debt-collectors you have have expected! 🤔

      Liked by 1 person

  13. There is always something to look down on in every culture, I think. Having lived in a few countries, I have observed that most of these biases are ethnically related. But skilled, hard-working people like tailors often bear the brunt as well. Sad, one of my grandfathers was a tailor.

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  14. Curious. Most curious! Considering how useful a tailor actually is, I wonder if the ire comes from the contempt of the travelling type….. especially when they spend some time with the family of a household and possibly learning secrets those families would rather keep quiet? 🤔

    Fair play to the tailor who impressed the king with what he did to the rooster…. Poor rooster though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed, it is peculiar! Personally, I think the chief reason behind it was that tailors were not seen to be doing ‘man’s work’ and spent a lot of time in the company of women – many of the derogatory sayings and songs reserved for priests carry many of the same rude put-downs as for tailors. 🙄😔 The matchmaker was once an important role, so, it is challenging to reconcile that position with the general disdain for their profession. 🤔

      Ha, yes, a very quick thinking man!! 😯😮

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m so sorry, I thought I’d already replied to this!

        I think you’re right in saying that, such a shame that a quite useful (and necessary) profession was deemed “unmanly”…. Very strange how priests were somehow treated in the same kind of manner.

        You’d have thought the local match maker would have been treated with better respect! 🤷🏼‍♂️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. No problem at all!!
        Yes, it is so frustrating that we simply can’t get into the headspace and worldview of these people! We are perhaps only several generations away but they may well have been medieval for how far away mentally they are from us!

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  15. That was such a sad story of the tailor that not only couldn’t get rid of his own hump, but then was “gifted” a second hump by the magical beings. Oh, man! Come on!!! lol
    It’s interesting at the top of the article that “tailors were thought to have been taught how to braid by goats, whose language they were also said able to speak.”
    This is similar to me to Gerald Massey, who wrote Egypt, Light of the World, where, during his study of Egyptian hieroglyphs, went far back enough to come to the conclusion that they were positing that man had been taught language by baboons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, yes but that is ‘fairyland’ for you – you have to be careful of your language when dealing with the fae! 🙄😉
      I had not heard that about man having been taught by baboons!! What an intriguing notion – whatever side of the evolutionary debate you are on! I shall do some further reading on that, thank you!! 🤗 Hope that you are keeping well! 🙏

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, particularly the Breton speaking part – an imaginary line between the north coast city of Saint-Brieuc and that of Vannes in the south.

      Really? That is interesting. Was that a notion confined to that part of England?


  16. I’m flabbergasted. Tailors are talented, and we need them to keep warm in the winter, to be decent in the summer, to marry, to baptize… I’m so surprised they were held in such low esteem. But it was a different time.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Didn’t they wear clothes? How strange that they would have put the tailor in the bullseye of their wrath and disdain. Such a fascinating post Colin..Every time I read you, I am amazed and what I never even dreamed of, let alone knew about. Thank you again for this well written post about these most maligned tailors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very welcome! Thank YOU for reading it! 🙂
      I agree, a strange group to single out. They were definitely essential because while most folk could spin at home and make basic smocks, the canvas was tough and required skill to sew effectively.


  18. Tailors? Of all the professions? So despised. And I thought actors had it tough back then.
    All the same, I don’t think I’ll ever pass a tailor’s premises again without thinking of that chicken.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Clothes have the power to transform us, to put our heads into a different place, to literally change the way you function in the world. Maybe that was the issue with tailors- they transform you. That’s a lot of power. I can see how that could ruffles a few feathers.

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