National Geographic : 1922 Jul
CAMARGUE, COWBOY COUNTRY OF SOUTHERN FRANCE bres, Mistral's col leagues in literature. So attired in their Provencal costumes, the girls of the Ca margue go to the festi vals over the wide salt moor, mounted like fair Ellens on the strong white steeds of their brave Lochin vars. MISTRAL SAVED THE OLD COSTUME A quarter of a cen tury ago, the fair Ar lesiennes, fearing hu miliation if they failed to follow the style dic tates of Paris, gradu ally began to discard the far more lovely peasant dress. Mis tral, who loved fine costumes as he did the muse, sought to retain for the Camargue the graceful dress of olden time. In 1903, just before he brought added fame to his be loved land by winning the Nobel prize in -' literature, the poet of Provence made a speech in which he THE GAM felicitated the girls The great brass pl upon the beauty of "the law" an their dress and begged them to perpetuate forever such a charm ing habit. So was the Festo Vicrginenco, or young girls' festival, established. In 1904 the same ceremony took place at a great popular meeting in the splendid ruins of the ancient Roman theater of Arles. On a glorious Easter Monday there was a great parade of young Provencal girls in full dress, and the people were most enthusiastic over those who came from their moorland homes riding on horseback behind their knights of swamp and sage. It was a triumphal exhibition. The Arlesian people roundly praised the graceful procession of Provencal beauties [E-KEEPER OF A CAMARGUE ESTATE ate on this keeper's breast advertises him to be d the keeper for M. Vitou's Mas de Pebre. and the return of the traditional costume. In 1899 Mistral created in the town of Arles a Provencal museum, called the Museon Arlaten. With the proceeds of the prize which Mircio won for him, he added to the collection in the museum of Aries. Here has been gathered an almost priceless exhibit of Provencal peasant art. There is also an important collection of old Provencal furniture, which is at once beautiful and perfectly adapted to the people's simple needs. One sees large cupboards and wardrobes made of carved oak, with high iron hinges, and the familiar decorated kneading-board and long-case clock.