Occitania. Pastel coloring and its know-how are registered in the French intangible cultural heritage

Co-founder of the Toulouse group Terre de Pastel, Sandrine Banessy is a pioneer in reviving pastel coloring in Occitania (© Land of pastels)

“Know-how related to pastel color en Pays de Cocagne” have just been included in French Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). Recognition of the Ministry of Culture which values ​​and protects know-how rooted in the territory. the pastel Occitan it is now protected, in the same way as other skills in France, such as the santon producers in Provence, the production of Armagnac eau-de-vie, or even basketry in Brittany, etc.

The Chamber of Commerce and Crafts of Occitania, which announced the happy news with enthusiasm, submitted official application at the beginning of June 2021. And from June 29, the Commission for Ethnological and Intangible Heritage of the Ministry brought it favorable opinion inclusion of “skills related to pastel painting, in the land of abundance” in the national list of ICH. Its official registration is now identified in the section “Knowledge and skills” from the website of the ministry. A nice tribute to the entire industry and its players.

Emblematic knowledge and experience of the region

For the Chamber of Craftsmen, this distinction enables “recognition of this knowledge and experience associated with this traditional craftsmanship as “emblem of our region”. She reports that in Occitania this sector, which embodies a “unique tourist and cultural attraction”, also represents “20 pastel textile finishing companies, almost 30 natural dyeing textile finishing (including pastel), a community of master dyers, artisans, artists and creative designers , researchers and scientists working on optimizing the extraction and dyeing process…”

“This official recognition testifies to our deep commitment to the defense and preservation of rare and extraordinary craftsmanship in the Occitanie region, and to the investment of the community of pastel artists who today bring this sector to life. The stakes and impacts are significant for our territory and our heritage.”

Serge CrabiePresident of the Occitania Chamber of Commerce and Crafts

In particular, pastel artists will now be able to benefit from logo “Intangible cultural heritage of France” promote their production, locally or for export.

Pastel crafters will now be able to benefit from the logo
Pastel artisans will now be able to use the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of France” logo to promote their production locally and for export. (©DR)

Where is the pastel culture?

In its list of intangible cultural heritage, the ministry lists practice sites in France. Pastel culture and the practice of dyeing with indigo pastel are mainly found in Occitania: u Haute-Garonne, but also in the departmentsAude, from’Ariege, from Gersfrom Gard and Tarn. But he specifies that “revival is also happening in Normandy and Picardy”, and that pastel culture and the practice of dyeing with indigo pastel also exist in other countries: in Germany in Thuringia, in Italy in Tuscany, Portugal in the Azores, and finally in Catalonia around Girona.

The pastel leaves of Isatis Tinctoria L are the source of the natural color of plants.  Timeless permanent blue color, always chic, available in many tones Isatis Tinctoria L pastel leaves are the source of the natural color of plants.  Timeless permanent blue, always chic, available in many shades
The pastel leaves of Isatis Tinctoria L are the source of the natural color of plants. Bruise
timeless, always chic, available in many shades Isatis Tinctoria L pastel leaves are the source of natural vegetable colors. Bruise
timelessly stable, always chic, available in many tones (© Land of pastels)

“Excellent news” for Terre de Pastel

This inscription clearly delights the creators The land of pastels, who transformed this medieval industry into economic model innovative, to the point of decline pastel in all sauces. This group from Toulouse, which he created in 2013 Jean Jacques Germain and Sandrine Banessy, two pastel enthusiasts, today employs about forty people in the region, in a whole range of activities. He cultivates 14 hectares of pasteles Izatis Tinctoria L in Labège, but also exploits the properties of this plant in dyeing and printing, cosmeticor making… pastel honey beer! He also created a Museum of pastelsand opened three boutiques in Labège, Toulouse and Albi.

“Pastel is a treasure trove of innovation. This registration is a wonderful recognition, it’s something we’ve been defending for years, through the Academy of Pastel Arts and Sciences. We’ve already got the A68 called the ‘Pastel Highway’. This recognition of knowledge about pastel coloring was crucial for us and for the entire region.”

Sandra Banessy Co-founder of the Terre de Pastel group

“A chance in terms of green innovation”

Sandrine Banessy also believes that the fact that this inscription is “related to the Occitan area” “Blessing”.

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“This is a chance for the region in terms of green innovation, at a time when vegetable coloring is becoming an increasingly important ecological alternative to chemical dyes and at a time when economically everything is good for the taking”.

Sandra Banessy

That in front care for the environment to consumers, this activity embodies an economy in tune with the times. “Pastel coloring is completely plant-based, natural without resorting to petrochemical processes”. Fascinated by the eternity of this worldly plant and its virtues, Sandrine Banessy has a heart to celebrate: “I don’t drink champagne, but pastel beer! »

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