(It seems that ""pulling the goose neck" has now a different meaning... but the original one is here!)
Late seventeenth century fans, and especially those that we say "mis au rectangle", and that auctioneers often call "project for a fan," often show enjoyable popular or village scenes.
Among those we own of this kind, there is one for which, on Aug. 14, 2014, we have at last found meaning a thanks to the news and to the staunch defenders of animals, even when dead. We will not get into that debate, even if we think it would be appropriate to begin to focus on the crualties against living men, and there are alas plenty of them. Coming back to the facts, some information can be found on the "web" about these "Cou de l'Oie" (Goose Neck) matter, as here http://www.allier-auvergne-tourisme.com/festivals-manifestations/terroir-et-artisanat/fete-du-cou-de-l-oie-528-1.html or http://www.mesopinions.com/petition/animaux/fete goose-shame-arfeuilles-allier/12310. for the opponents counterpart.
As for us, we'll just quote Paul Sébillot (Sébillot, Paul, Le Folk-lore de France, T III, Faune et Flore, E. Guilmoto, Paris, 1906, p. 247-248.)
In Grez-Doiceau, in the Walloon Brabant, the second day of the fair, a live goose was hanging from a rope which brought together the upper ends of two long poles stuck in the ground. A man perched on a trestle remembered all the calamities which had hitten the town during the past year, and accused the goose to be the cause; the animal was also supposed to be responsible for the acts and pranks that were reported by rude drawings on large sheets of paper, and finally was condemned to death. Members of the youth on horseback "ran to the goose"; armed with pistols loaded with blanks and stuffed with paper, they went to the line, galloping or trotting between the two poles and shot in the neck of the expiatory victim; the one who clinched the head was proclaimed the winner.
In St. Malo, until the middle of last century, every year, the "crepes making Sunday", people went to the shore where a goose which was tied at the top of a pole. Every one shot on the living target; the winner was the one who crossed his neck. In the same city, another game, named the sleeper gander, existed until 1840: A gander hung by the feet from a tree in an avenue; men on horseback, arranged in two rows after draw, at a signal went galloping under the tree where hung the gander, which they had to to tear the head by hand, without leaving the saddle. (...) The game of the goose neck which is still practiced in some areas of Auvergne is essentially the same, except that since the implementation of the Grammont law, animals are already dead. In Wallonia the goose was once the victim of a cruel game now banned; it was attached still alive by the head, and using long iron rods remotely launched , players tried to shoot it and break its neck.
It is, we fear, this barbaric game that is shown on the "éventails au rectangle" that we reproduce below.
(C) C.P.H. B. Reproduction prohibited. NB: As often, this little panel is split in the middle. Until a physical restoration, we have here retouched the image so that the slot is less disruptive for the sight.
We find about those traditional social amusements several in formations in Pietro Gorini's Jeux et fêtes traditionnels de France et d'Europe (Gremese Editore, 1994). We give on the left an extract from this book (p. 38).
Our French reading visitors will have a look at the text... but for the others, the picture will be enough for understanding this pleasant occupation in the peaceful Switzerland!
Another document from the Folklore de l'Aube website gives explanations (in French, sorry) and pictures about those games. They were parts of the local country feasts almost everywhere. Some took place on rivers, like in Strasbourg or in Paris, just in front of the Louvre Palace. There was even a bicycle version still in use in 1990 in the village of Treogan (Côtes d'Armor, France, at one our drive from my birthplace). We find elsewhere (www.mrugala.net/) the information that "Young people darted in turn to two poles that were used to stretch high a rope where they had set a goose by the legs. Then had to pull the neck of the animal as a gift for their sweethearts". What do you think of that, Ladies and Misses?
According to the same source, this Goose Neck game was a more popular version of the Popinjay one (Papegay or Papegault). Let us recall that the purpose of this one was (by bow or crossbow) to shoot a painted wood bird which was stuck on top of a long pole. Previously each participant had taken care to place a present; the "king jewel" was awarded to the winner of the festival, which lasted about 8 days. In many places the winner benefited also consideration, honors and even tax breaks for the following year!
This game is often seen on fans: we give below an example.
© Coll. C.PH. B. Reproduction prohibited
The very morning after I had posted this small page, I was surprised to see that it had attracted the attention of Craig Ashley Hanson (Associate Professor, Art and Art History, Calvin College, Michigan). See what he says in Enfilade, the always useful newsletter of HECAA (Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art & Architecture) : http://enfilade18thc.com/2014/08/15/hand-fans-goose-necks-and-archery-contests/
It is sure that it would be interesting to research and publish more on that matter of hand fans and social amusements during the long Eighteenth Century. For now, to thank Craig for his kindness towards my billet, I just add another picture showing the winner of a Papegay contest, on a (supposed) beginning of Eighteenth Century brisé fan. P.H. B.
© Coll. CPHB Reproduction interdite - It is forbiden to use pictures withour our authorization
NB. I think the source is an engraving by one of the Mariettes. If you can locate an original one, please let me know !