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The Search for Efficiency

Large bagpipes inlayed with pewter
Late 18th century
Lent by the Musée des musiques populaires de Montluçon

  Large bagpipes inlayed with pewter - MMPM no. 978.6.1 / Photo: Musée des musiques populaires de Montluçon


Typical of the Bourbonnais region, these bagpipes are made from the wood of a fruit tree and are inlayed with pewter. In addition to the bag, they have a blowpipe, a large drone that rests on the player's shoulder, and a small drone and a chanter in a stock. What distinguishes this instrument is the stock and its ornamentation. It is covered with religious and para-religious signs that were used in the Christian Church at one time. Their symbolism is sometimes difficult to interpret, but when they were added to the instrument, their meaning must have been perfectly clear.

Several decades ago, the bagpipes were always used in religious contexts in France. They were played in processions and at gatherings of religious brotherhoods in Limoges, and there were numerous references to the shepherds in the Nativity scene during Christmas masses and services. The matte finish of the pewter inlay on the stocks made by Jean Sautivet is like a mirror, a symbol of Mary or Christ and their protection of the object, its user and the social and musical setting in which the instrument is played.