Posted 3 years ago
Found the nutcracker or 'casse-noisette' in my favourite haunt a few weeks ago and put it aside for Le Quatorze Juillet – the French teacher in me wanted to celebrate the French Republic in a light-hearted way: a caricature of 'Charlot', le colonel Motors, le grand Charles .....
Woodcrafters for centuries have carved decorative nutcrackers designed to bring humor with their whimsical looks and expressions. Satirical, political cartoons!
This one is a portrait of Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (22 November 1890 – 9 November 1970). It is made of olive wood, he has glass eyes and Perspex visor on his képi. His képi has just two metal stars!
I have seen a couple of these on the net. I’ve seen two sailors and Uncle Sam too! These comical characters are given the difficult task of “cracking hard nuts” in their jaws. Perhaps it was made in Japan, perhaps in France.
That cap – the képi! The képi is a cap most commonly associated with French military and police uniforms (cf Alemannic Kaeppi: a diminutive form of Kappe, meaning "cap").
The two stars: de Gaulle loved wearing this symbol of a mere "provisional brigadier general". He wore it at critical political moments and the French found it funny to see a two-star general commanding authority over five-star generals.
De Gaulle or Gaulle? In WWII the Fascist Vichy called the general “Gaulle”. They were scornful of a two-star general who pretended to be the incarnation of France in London. They took away the apparently aristocratic particle "de" (see French names) to belittle de Gaulle.
Gaulle is also homophonic with the French word "gaule", the long pole that is used to harvest walnuts. This French word can also be understood in slang as meaning "dumb". This pun gives even more meaning to the nut cracker.
If you go to that link you will find a whole list of names used by the French to refer to Charles de Gaulle.: le colonel Motors, Gaulle, le grand Charles, mon grand, la grande Zohra, Viper, Charlot, Big Moustache, le Connétable, la grande asperge & Cyrano.
It’s an interesting read.