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Culture

15 – The Forest in Nivernais – Pitsawyers

4 October 2018

The fifteenth postcard of the series “The Forest in Nivernais” depicts two pitsawyers in the Forest of Bertranges. When Raoul Saulnier d’Anchald took this photography, there were still a lot of pitsawyers working in Nièvre. They had a special status among wood workers and are described by Michel Pigenet as a “labor aristocracy”.

The fifteenth postcard of the series “The Forest in Nivernais” depicts two pitsawyers in the Forest of Bertranges. When Raoul Saulnier d’Anchald took this photography, there were still a lot of pitsawyers working in Nièvre. They had a special status among wood workers and are described by Michel Pigenet as a “labor aristocracy”.

Pitsawyers usually worked in the cuts in order to limit costs of transport of raw materials. Two men, one on the floor (the “renard”), and the other one on a high trestle (the “chevrier”), sawed the log along the grain. The log, solidly fixed to the trestle, was cut into boards, railway sleepers or lumber with a long frame saw.

Achille Millien complements the postcard with verses of poetry about the logs sawed by the pitsawyers’ tools: “J’entends le grincement qui sort / Du tronc quand la scie y pénètre / Et je me dis que c’est peut-être, / Ce cri du bois que l’acier mord, / Un cri de torture et de mort !”

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