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Monday, May 23, 2016

Urban Beekeeping, or, Honey Made of Clay

As our last two posts featured beehives, I thought I'd keep the ball rolling with a pair of photos I took years ago with the idea of doing a post on unusual or esoteric symbols found throughout Toulouse, but I never got around to using them.  

So, without further ado, this is a beehive found on a downtown facade about ten feet up and squarely between two first-floor windows.  I've never found out why it's there, or if it was made at the instigation of the neighborhood, an individual, or some sort of guild or fraternity.  All I know is that it's made of terra-cotta, a local specialty, and that it's located on the left side of the Rue. St. Rome when facing Place Capitole, about halfway between Places Capitole and Esquirol.  

Anyone know why this beehive is here?  

For some fine example of sculpture groups in terra-cotta, one can poke around the nearby Musée des Augustines.  In using terra-cotta, the artists of Toulouse were simply using a common and relatively cheap material at hand.  The local tradition stems from the liberal use of brick in local construction, a feature so dominant in Toulouse and neighboring towns such as (Montauban), that Toulouse has been nicknamed "la Ville Rose" ("the Pink City") because of the effect of the sun brightening the reddish bricks (aka "forains") of its buildings.

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