COUNTRIES OF COCAGNE: origins, expressions, representations

In the collective imagination, the Cockayne country is an earthly paradise, a magical land where nature is very generous with its guests. Land of perpetual festivals, we indulge in earthly pleasures, play and idleness; work is absent and equality between all is the rule.

His origin

The myth of Cocagne goes back to XIIe century. It would be a reminiscence of the golden age told by Greek poets such as Ovid telling of a country full of delights, "a land where one lives in softness".

« Cocagne »Would come from Italy:

  • canton of Cuccagna in Italy ; 
  • or the poet Teofilo Folengo, said Merlin Coccaiewho would have described this delicious country;
  • or a Neapolitan holiday of the Cuccagna“, During which the people received food and wine from the top of a kind of mountain representing Vesuvius.

The “Fabliau de Coquaigne” (1235) also describes a country of continual festivals, luxury and idleness.

In Lauragais and Albigeois, the "cockles" or " coquaignes “Are pastel rolls, from which is extracted a blue dye which made the fortune of these regions and were nicknamed the Land of plenty.

This miraculous country has a similar name in different European languages: "the Land of Cockaigne" (English), "Cuccagna" (Italian), "Kokanje" (Flemish).

Expressions with the term Cocagne 

The " Cockayne country " is an imaginary country where you get everything in abundance without any effort. It is an aspiration to universal prosperity, peace and equality.This expression remains very present in the imagination of the north of France, generally evoking the south-west of Rancia, Provence or Italy.

The " cocagne mast Is a game consisting of climbing to the top of a post to catch objects suspended from a cart or bicycle wheel (candies, sausages, toys, etc.). The very smooth pole is often induced with grease or soap to complicate or even make it impossible to climb.

This game was widely practiced in Europe, in particular in the south of France, in Spain ("cucaña"), in Great Britain and in South America ("palo ensbado" in Chile, "palo enjabonado" in Uruguay, " pau de sebo ”in Brazil).

The popular expression " When you climb the mast of plenty, you have to have clean breeches! ”Means“ When we expose ourselves, we make sure to be very clean before ”.

His representations

In 1567, Pieter Bruegel painted his "Land of Plenty" while Brussels was in fire and blood, the armies of Philippe II of Spain trying to put down the revolt of the Gueux, opposing the Dutch rebels to the Spanish Empire.

In this painting, three sleepy and sated characters represent the three orders of medieval society: the clergy, the nobility of arms and the peasantry. They are equal in abundance. Quails and geese fall from the sky already cooked, larded pigs or boiled eggs come running. Soldiers, farmers, students no longer work. This perpetual truce is made possible by great abundance.

The fable of Fenelon "A trip to the island of pleasures" describes a land of plenty.

Le Roi de Cocagne is a comedy by The Great, where a peasant listens to the description of the island that belongs to the king and its palaces made of jam. A tale of Grimm also evokes the Pays de Cocagne.

This land of plenty is a utopia, that of the existence of an earthly Garden of Eden, a place of abundance, idleness and equality.

Quote about the French language:

" My homeland is the French language. "

Albert Camus

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