Monday, June 14, 2010

Linge Basque

It seems no matter where I go in the south of France I always run into one of these stores...

Basque linen or “Linge Basque”, with its tradition dating back to the mists of time, is - judging from all the stores - much sought after both by the lucky people living in the area and the tourists that flock here every summer.

Until a few years ago, the traditional Basque linen had always been dominated by a limited and natural colour palate of green, red, cream, ivory, putty, off-white and taupe. The traditional design elements of Basque linen has either been the presentation of the Basque cross or the seven lines/stripes which are meant to represent the seven Basque provinces – 3 French and 4 Spanish. But by popular demand for a change, professional designers have created new patterns with bold colours and a more modern flair.

Indulging in Basque linen might feel like a modern-day luxury. Especially when you’re piling up a stack of, say, deliciously heavy tablecloths and napkins, fluffy sandstone-coloured towels and bathrobes, or brightly coloured place mats and aprons. But its really not. Basque linen was originally used as blankets to keep flies off cattle. And it wasn't until much later that it came to represent high grade family possessions - a family's social status was often indicated by the width of the stripes.