Friday, September 30, 2011

The Albanian Highlander's Qeleshe (2) - Pashe Keqi

For centuries, in the closed-off and conservative society of rural, northern Albania, to swap genders was considered a practical solution for a family with a shortage of men.

Pashe Keqi recalled the day nearly 60 years ago when she decided to become a man. She chopped off her long black curls, traded in her dress for her father’s baggy trousers, armed herself with a hunting rifle and vowed to forsake marriage, children and sex.

Her father was killed in a blood feud, and there was no male heir. By custom, Ms. Keqi, now 78, took a vow of lifetime virginity. She lived as a man, the new patriarch, with all the swagger and trappings of male authority — including the obligation to avenge her father’s death.

Back then, it was better to be a man because before a woman and an animal were considered the same thing,” said Ms. Keqi, who has a bellowing baritone voice, sits with her legs open wide like a man and relishes downing shots of raki. “Now, Albanian women have equal rights with men, and are even more powerful. I think today it would be fun to be a woman.”

The tradition of the sworn virgin can be traced to the Kanun of Leke Dukagjini, a code of conduct passed on orally among the clans of northern Albania for more than 500 years. Under the Kanun, the role of a woman is severely circumscribed: take care of children and maintain the home. While a woman’s life is worth half that of a man, a virgin’s value is the same: 12 oxen.
The sworn virgin was born of social necessity in an agrarian region plagued by war and death. If the family patriarch died with no male heirs, unmarried women in the family could find themselves alone and powerless. By taking an oath of virginity, women could take on the role of men as head of the family, carry a weapon, own property and move freely.
Passport telling of Ms Keqi's sex
They dressed like men and spent their lives in the company of other men, even though most kept their female given names. They were not ridiculed, but accepted in public life, even adulated. For some the choice was a way for a woman to assert her autonomy or to avoid an arranged marriage.

“Stripping off their sexuality by pledging to remain virgins was a way for these women in a male-dominated, segregated society to engage in public life,” said Linda Gusia, a professor of gender studies at the University of Pristina
, in Kosovo. “It was about surviving in a world where men rule.”
Thanks to the NY Times

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Albanian Highlander's Qeleshe (1)

Following the Svanetian Felt Hat, this is another traditional felt hat worn by mountain people: the qeleshe (or plis) from Albania.
A qeleshe (plis) is a traditional skull cap, which is worn by Albanian men throughout Albania, in Kosovo, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, and in the Arbëresh villages in Italy.
Avdo Mededovich, the Yugoslav Homer
The shape of the cap changes with the region: in northern Albania, the cone is shorter whereas in southern Albania it is usually taller, especially in the Gjirokastër and Vlorë regions, with the exception of the Myzeqe low plains region, where the cap is shorter like in Northern Albania and has some plies. 
In some areas of southern Albania a small protrusion comes out of the cap. The cap is made from one single piece of woolen felt, usually white, that is molded to the shape of the head. The name qeleshe comes from the Albanian word for wool (Albanian: lesh).
In northern Albania, the shape resembles an egg shell cut in half. In southern Albania, the shape is that of a cone with the top cut. Sometimes the qeleshe is worn along with a bandana tied around the head.

And now available through South Pacific Berets @ only $21.50!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Charles Filiger

Born in Alsace, Charles Filiger studied at the Atelier Colarossi in Paris before settling in 1890 in the Breton village of Le Pouldu, where he befriended several of the artists working there, including Paul Gauguin, Paul Serusier, Emile Bernard, Claude-Émile Shuffenecker and the artists of the Nabis group.
Charles Filliger, Tete d'homme au beret bleu 1892
Filiger was a deeply religious man, and his work is often of a religious or mystical nature. He had a particular admiration for the work of the Italian primitives and Byzantine art, and indeed several critics likened the figures in his paintings to those of Giotto.
Charles Filliger, Famille de pecheurs 1894
Filiger exhibited only infrequently in Paris throughout his relatively brief career; most significantly at the Salon des Indépendants in 1889 and 1890 and the first Salon de la Rose + Croix in 1892. An exhibition at the Galerie Durand-Ruel in 1899 was to be his last, however, as after this he seems to have abandoned Paris, living a reclusive life in Brittany with a family by the name of Le Guellec until his death by suicide in 1928.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Montgomery (2)

Yes, I know there are people, like myself, who pay small fortunes for berets that they believe are worthy of that money (the worth being mostly in the mind, of course). But there are also people who pay sackfuls of money for autographed photographs, like this one of a beret wearing Field Marshal Montgomery.
No idea how much it sold for, in the end...
"MONTGOMERY B. L.: (1887-1976) British Field Marshal of World War II. Vintage signed 5 x 7 photograph depicting Montgomery in a full length pose standing in snow and with mountains in the background. He wears a large white overcoat and his black beret upon his head. Photograph by Villiger of Gstaad. Signed ('Montgomery of Alamein, Field Marshal') in bold, dark fountain pen ink to a clear area at the base of the image. Some surface and corner creasing, about VG"

Monday, September 26, 2011

New: the South Pacific 270mm in Green!

Often asked for a more economic basic beret in a small to medium diameter with an easy fit, I had the South Pacific 270mm developed.
A basic beret in pure wool, without lining and carrying the South Pacific Berets-label. An easy to stretch, soft beret at only $25.-

Soon available in Navy too.

Thomas Sankara

Thomas Isidore Noël Sankara (1949 – 1987) was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, Pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as "Africa's Che Guevara."
Sankara seized power in a 1983 popularly supported coup at the age of 33, with the goal of eliminating corruption and the dominance of the former French colonial power. He immediately launched the most ambitious program for social and economic change ever attempted on the African continent. To symbolize this new autonomy and rebirth, he even renamed the country from the French colonial Upper Volta to Burkina Faso ("Land of Upright Men"). 
His foreign policies were centered around anti-imperialism, with his government eschewing all foreign aid, pushing forodious debt reduction, nationalizing all land and mineral wealth, and averting the power and influence of the IMF and World Bank. His domestic policies were focused on preventing famine with agrarian self-sufficiency and land reform, prioritizing education with a nation-wide literacy campaign, and promoting public health by vaccinating 2.5 million children against meningitis, yellow feverand measles. Other components of his national agenda included planting over ten million trees to halt the growing desertification of the Sahel, doubling wheat production by redistributing land from feudal landlords to peasants, suspending rural poll taxes and domestic rents, and establishing an ambitious road and rail construction program to "tie the nation together." 
Moreover, his commitment to women's rights led him to outlaw female genital mutilation, forced marriages and polygamy; while appointing females to high governmental positions and encouraging them to work outside the home and stay in school even if pregnant.
His policies alienated and antagonised the vested interests of an array of groups, which included the small but powerful Burkinabé middle class, the tribal leaders whom he stripped of the long-held traditional right to forced labour and tribute payments, and the foreign financial interests in France and their ally the Ivory Coast. 
Pioneers of the Revolution, with Ché style berets
As a result, he was overthrown and assassinated in a coup d'état led by the French-backed Blaise Compaoré on October 15, 1987. A week before his execution, he declared: "While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas."
Personally, I feel a lot more sympathetic to Sankara than Che Guavara...

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Karl Marx

No, I don't believe Karl Marx ever wore a Basque beret, but the beret became very popular under many of his followers. The poor man, not many people have found their ideas so misused as KM (Jesus of Nazareth excepted, maybe)...
Ché Guevara of course the most (mis-)used icon, in that respect; pictured here in the beautiful puppet animation Baby Marx:

And below, the old man himself, together with Friedrich Engels:

This is the original teaser for Baby Marx, an ongoing project by Pedro Reyes that explores the intersections of mass entertainment, ideology and contemporary art. The teaser was produced for the Yokohama Triennial in Japan in 2008, and was followed by a television pilot shot in Mexico City in 2009. He worked closely with Japanese master puppeteer Takumi Ota for over a year to design and build the puppets, which Reyes explains as crafted “to cast the personality of a character in the simplest form [...] a silhouette.”

No, the best I could find regarding Karl Marx with beret is this present-day look-a-like (above).

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Robert Hutchings Goddard

Robert Hutchings Goddard (1882 – 1945) was an American professor, physicist and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926. 
Goddard and his team launched 34 rockets between 1926 and 1941, achieving altitudes as high as 2.6 km (1.62 miles) and speeds as high as 885 km/h (550 mph).
Goddard received little public support for his research during his lifetime. Though his work in the field was revolutionary, he was sometimes ridiculed in the press for his theories concerning spaceflight. As a result, he became protective of his privacy and his work. 
Goddard pulling one of his rockets
Years after his death, at the dawn of the Space Age, he came to be recognized as one of the founding fathers of modern rocketry. He was the first not only to recognize the scientific potential of missiles and space travel but also to bring about the design and construction of the rockets needed to implement those ideas.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

As French as the beret, the classic pocket knife by Opinel is a simple, wooden handled knife manufactured since 1890 in the town of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in the Savoie region of France.

Invented by Joseph Opinel as a simple working man's or peasant's knife, it proved popular with the local farmers, herdsmen, and paysans-vignerons (peasant winemakers) of the area. In 1897, a series of twelve sizes, numbered 1 to 12, was developed. From 1901-1903, Joseph Opinel built his first factory in Pont de Gévoudaz and produced a machine for mass production of the knife's wooden handles.
Joseph Opinel
To distribute his new range of knives, Opinel utilized the time-honored method of hiring peddlers to sell the knife, installing a small shop near the Chambéry railway junction, where the knives became popular with PLM railroad workers, who in the course of their work spread word of the new knife all over France. By 1909, Opinel had registered his first trademark for the Opinel knife, choosing the main couronnée ("crowned hand") as his emblem. A few years later Opinel annual sales were in the hundreds of thousands, and by the start of World War II as many as 20 million knives had been sold.
The original work crew
The Opinel Virobloc or safety twistlock mechanism was invented by Marcel Opinel in 1955, greatly increasing the safety and versatility of the knife by allowing the blade to be locked in the open position. In 2000, the Virobloc locking mechanism was improved to allow locking the blade in either the open or closed position.
The company is still run by the Opinel family, and Opinel sells around 15 million knives annually. A museum dedicated to the Opinel knife (Le Musée de l'Opinel) is located at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. 
Now available here.

Rick's Hats

An impressive collection of hats (including a meager 5 berets) can be found here.
American-Danish hat collector Rick has to do his homework on berets though; as we all know, there is more to berets than "grumpy old men clenching bottles of wine and baguettes". 
Once starting to look for collectors and web sites, it is quite amazing how many people share this passion for hats; like here, here and here

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Scandinavian Series #10 - Kari Tapio Koivu

Last night I watched the beautiful movie Steam of Life, a Finnish documentary on sauna's, men, emotions and contemplation.
It made me also realize that I have no post on anything Finnish on The Beret Project (apart from Americans of Finnish origin who joined the International Brigades). Time to correct the wrong, I thought, but although I have regular visitors from Finland, I find it very hard to find any information of Fins and berets.
Some 60 minutes searching got me one picture of Kari Tapio Koivu, writer, translator and theologist.And although he may be a master at what he does, apart from the fact that he is also a qualified carpenter and boatbuilder, I can't tell you anything else about him.
Any information on Finland & Berets much appreciated!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Women's Football

French football 1923 - Fémina Sport Club, Paris
Thanks to this web site on women's football, I came upon these great vintage photographs of women playing football (well, soccer, for the American readers). And with beret, of course. 
French football 1920 Le Miroir newspaper: Femina vs Academia
French football 1923 - Fémina v Cadettes de Gascogne
French football 1925 - Dick Kerr v Fémina at Herne Hill

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Bike Series #11 - Herne Hill Velodrome / 06 SatRDay

A sprint race at the Herne Hill track on 14 September 1929. 
Left to right R Meller, ST Cozens and the eventual winner CJ Hallerback
The picture above was sent to me by fellow beret enthusiast Jolyon, a great shot of a 1929 match at the Herne Hill Velodrome
This photograph is of Larry Varney, testing the 06 SatRDay, a long way away from the 1920's velodrome.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Andy Garcia

As a youngster, Andres "Andy" Garcia dreamed of playing professional baseball. Born on the Island of Cuba, Garcia's family fled to Miami Beach, Florida in the United States of America following Fidel Castro's communist revolution. 
At Natilus Junior High School and later at Miami Beach Senior High School, Garcia excelled in baseball. In his senior year, illness prevented him from playing and he drifted into the drama department. He studied acting with Jay W. Jensen. Jensen was a South Florida legend, counting among his numerous students, Brett Ratner, Roy Firestone, Mickey Rourke, and Luther Campbell. 
At the flight line tower, İncirlik Air Base, Turkey, December 7, 2001.
Following his positive high school experiences in acting, he continued his drama studies at Florida International University. From there he traveled to Hollywood, California to make his mark in movie-stardom. To his friends and fans in Miami Beach, Andy Garcia will always be remembered as a friendly, down-to-earth, all-around good guy.
Andy Garcia heads home after watching the Lakers playl