Alexis Bafcop (Cassel, 1804 - 1895) and Ambroise Bafcop (Cassel, 1803 - 1876) Reuze Papa et Reuze Maman

1827 and 1860
Composite materials (wood and wicker structure, pasted canvas and painted papier mâché, painted card, hessian, horse hair and human hair)
273 x 129 x 100 et 226 x 102 x 78 cm

Inv. D.2003.1.1 and 2

On loan – Municipality of Cassel

Listed as a French Historical Monument since 2002
Listed as a UNESCO Intangible World Heritage since 2005.

Major works | Parody on Parade

Legendary giants

The carnival giants Reuze Papa and Reuze Maman are the work of two artists from Cassel, Alexis (1804-1895) and Ambroise Bafcop (1803-1876). Reuze Papa was made first in 1827. His wife Reuze Maman followed in 1860. Belonging to the Town of Cassel, the giants were loaned to the Musée départemental de Flandre in 2003. Bad weather and falls caused some damage to the giants and it was common to have to repair them after their outing. As such, clones were made in order to replace the original giants and keep the tradition of the two carnivals alike: the Winter carnival (the Sunday before Shrove Tuesday) and the Summer carnival (Easter Monday).

Reuze Papa looks like a Roman legionary, wearing a breast-plate and helmet with a crest. He carries a two-edged sword at his waist and a command staff in his right hand. This iconography perhaps originally harks back to the giant Druon Antigone of Antwerp, created in 1535 and portrayed particularly in the work by Erasmus de Bie, Procession of floats on Place du Meir in Antwerp, dated 1670. This similarity can be explained by the fact that Alexis Bafcop, who designed Reuze Papa, studied painting in Antwerp. It is therefore highly likely that he was inspired by the giant of this town to make Cassel’s.

Reuze Maman, meanwhile, did not often accompany her husband Reuze Papa during carnival outings in the 19th century. In 1901, she was even turned into a fisherwoman before becoming a warrior in 1905 with the addition of a helmet with a crest. Later, in 1928, she was given a makeover as a Byzantine princess with a diadem and jewels.