Weeding Flax

Revised Sept 17th/99. Your comments and suggestions would be appreciated.

   This 1887 painting by Emile Claus below shows something about the life of women around the turn of the 19th century. Shown are the wives of poor farmworkers ('landknechten') and wives of day labourers ('dagloners') who often came for a starvation wage to weed flax fields. Notice how they all had removed their wooden shoes ('klompen') to avoid damaging the flax. Also, if possible they were put to work with the wind at their backs do that the flax plants they had been pressed down would be blown back to stand upright. The farmer's wife stood ready with a basket to collect the weeds removed.
   Flanders had had an age-old dependence on cultivation of flax and its spinning and weaving.