Last week I posted this mystery photo and asked what you thought the men (and their dogs) were doing. Well, the answer is below.
They’re sharpening knives!
From the Claude Dozorme website – Built along the banks of the River Durolle, in what is now known as the « Vallée des Usines » (Factory Valley), the knife-making workshops took full advantage of the river’s hydraulic power to produce and supply massive numbers of knives to wholesaler ironmongers in France. Local memory still remembers the « yellow bellies », the hundreds of grinders who sharpened blades lying on their stomachs above the millstones, a position specific to the French cutlery industry, with a dog lying on their legs to keep them warm.
Take a look at the interesting English-language link below which describes the Puy de Dôme region in the center of France (the Auvergne) and the medieval town of Thiers whose cutlery industry spans six centuries. For those familiar with the famous Laguiole knives, they’re also made in Thiers.