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The gille

In Binche around thousand of Gilles can be seen on Shrove Tuesday. The Gille’s costume can only be worn for this special day.  It is also forbidden to get out of the city with it, from this comes the saying “a Gille never leaves”.

The costume is only for the man from Binche family or for the citizen leaving in Binche for at least 5 years. Strong rules are setting up to control the participation of the Carnival. A Folkloric defense association was created to promote and protect the tradition of Binche.

The Gille costume is a tunic and trousers made of jute decorated with 150 patterns (stars, lions and crowns) in fine black felt fabric. When the Gille dresses up, the tunic is filled up with straw at the front and the back with a small bell.

At the belt, he wears a woolen red and yellow belt mounted with a cloth called “apertintaille” and composed of copper bells. A collar with pleaded lace rubbans  or golden fringes which can be attached around the neck on the bumps.

On his head, a « barrette » a white cotton hat and a tissue around the neck (pleaded squares worn around the neck and laced on the head to keep the hat on) cover all the hair. During Shrove Tuesday’s afternoon procession, the Gille wears his ostrich feathers hat. The Gille does not own the costume nor the hat. He rent them at the “louageur” who is specialized in costumes and hat making and letting. Binche counts three all of them coming from the same family.  To his feet, Gill wears wooden clogs.

Shrove Tuesday’s morning, the Gille wears its famous mask to enter the city hall. Made by the Pourbaix workshop, it is made of wax, decorated with green glasses, a moustache and a tiny goatee and side whiskers. In 1985, Binche registered to the European Patent office to have the exclusive rights: The mask can only be worn in Binche and sell to Gille from their society.

On Tuesday morning and during the soumonces with drums, the Gille hold in his hand a ramon. Once a broom, the ramon is composed of sticks of dry sallow put together with sinew rattan. The Gille gives the rhythm with the ramon and the baskets (hold on Shrove’s Tuesday afternoon).

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