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Post 15. House of Jeanne, Weaver

At the corner of the road is the home of Jeanne, renovated in a modern style by her grandchildren who live there.

Map of St-Jean

In Anniviers, as in all valleys, the army, mobilization, and major projects took men out of the valley. With the men absent, each village saw women assuming all the work. Excluding those of the countryside and home, they were still artisans, mothers, wives, daughters-in-law, healers, etc...

Each house has lodged one of these modest and discrete heroines. Through the testimony of the life of Jeanne, the last weaver from the village and the valley, who died in 1997, a place is given to all the women of Saint-Jean.

Jeanne used flax and hemp plants that went into the making of the cloth, but also knew the plants that heal. She took care of her own and sometimes of the cattle with a plant she called sacred, because of the miracles it accomplished in her family : the Masterwort (impératoire plant) (peucedanum ostruthium), called argo in Anniviers.

Textiles were the affair of women who spun, knitted or mended. Jeanne, born in 1908, began weaving at the age of 13 with her aunt Adèle in a business owned by her grandmother. At 19, she went to follow a weaving course at the school of Châteauneuf.

Jeanne was 88 years old when she answered the questions of Paul-André Florey in 1996.
“I had linen woven for my mother who died when I was 20, I still have some. It was solid. But linen was more difficult to weave than wool. (...) I wove cloth to make costumes, when my father became an MP. I bought the wool but I wove it myself. Then I sent the cloth to tread. A tailor made a magnificent costume. My father wore it to go to the Grand Council. (...) People brought me wool and I wove it to make cloth for them. I remember that you asked 20 cents for an aune, which was 1 m 20 long. People came to help me, because you had to be two to mount the structure. They brought me wine and bread that I did not want. It was called the “pittance”. (...)

My mother, first dyed the cloth and then sent it to Sion to be battened. This cloth became beautiful. I have worn my dress made from the cloth of the country for 20 years. (...) Oh ! I enjoyed that people appreciated my work. Recently I wove my granddaughter’s wedding dress.“

The daily life of Jeanne, almost entirely summed up in a letter to one of her seven children in October 1951, reflects the uninterrupted labour of women in these times:

October 22, 1951

“My dear Claude,

We have not been diligent in answering your letter. You must excuse us. Right now, we have so much work. Luc and Urbain are taking care of the livestock. Romain and Bruno kept the cows of Fridolin during the past week. And Wednesday and Thursday, I went down to Sierre to harvest our grapes. I was sorry to not have sent you grapes, but as we were not alone, I could just take a full carton for here. I asked Monique to give you some, but I do not know if she dared ask. Today, it is cold and there is a layer of snow of about 10 cm. Father Romain and Urbain, went to move the cows from Zampelets to Flaubovis. We still have to dig the potatoes of the field at the Crêts.

We hope that the good weather will return. There is still bedding to bring and a quantity of manure to bring out. Monique was to come last Sunday and will not come back until next Sunday. I know that you are lacking the right jackets and jersey, but I have not yet had time to mend the jacket and Marguerite has not yet done the knitting. As soon as it is ready, we will send you all this. I bought you a nice shirt in Sierre for Sunday. I hope it will please you. We will make the slippers for you shortly. I bought solid soles and we are knitting the tops. We will make good warm slippers for you. Let us know if you can hold out. We often pray that you reach the goal you desire. This would bring us so much happiness.

So the whole family is in good health, there is no shortage of work. I forgot to tell you that with Luc and Romain, we went to the pines above the mayen of Clovis Z. It was a very difficult day. We picked up four sacks.

The whole family sends you our most sincere greetings, and we embrace you with all our heart. Mother“


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The last house inhabited year round is situated at the right angle of the road that leads to the Mayens of Pinsec. You cannot miss it.