The shepherd’s bag
When I created my leather workshop more than 30 years ago I decided it would be in line with the tradition of the shepherd’s bag whose current shape goes back to the 17th century. This bag, which is part of the secular heritage of southern pastoralism, is still used today in the South of France by shepherds driving their cattle. In Layrolle, between the Causses plateau and Cévennes midmountains, on the edge of the Larzac, in the region of Millau, I learnt leatherworking while respecting the subtle balance of its varieties. The types of leather and their quality, the demanding work and the dedication put into it make this bag a unique object, a lifetime companion. A combination of supple and thick leather, with invisible seams, it is embellished with a solid brass buckle. Each bag, as well as all the other objects of the workshop, is handcrafted and made entirely by the same person, in the same unity of time and place. A secret bond, a sacred bond, the shepherd’s bag is one of those rare objects that carry/span centuries with a scent of eternity.
Crossing the Middle East, the Maghreb, Greece and Ancient Rome, the sheep has found its way to the South of France and has been for more than ten thousand years the symbol of religious and economic life around the Mediterranean Sea.
Protecting his herd, deeply attached to its rhythm, the shepherd’s only luggage was a bag. A bag including pockets, compartments, to better contain food, ointments, knives and tools. A bag which was sturdy and spacious, to protect clothes, woollen garments and to tighten a large umbrella against its flap. A bag which was soft too, worn over the shoulder, to fit the curves of the body.
Since 1980, first alone at his workbench, Jean-Pierre Romiguier, manager and founder, has applied himself to stitching back together past and modernity, ethics and economy, distant memory and infinite future: from this quest arose Le Sac du Berger as if it was meant to be.
Over the years, this bag has become the emblem of a workshop of a dozen people, fostering a process of social and rural micro-economy (the workshop is located in Layrolle, a hamlet in the middle of the forest).
It includes five leather trades, five skills that our modern world, not paying attention, was about to lose along the way: saddlery, leather goods, shoemaking, woollen skin work and the making of leather and wool clothing. All the goods meet the same requirements of beauty and quality.
Today just like yesterday, the Sac du Berger workshop aims at being truthful to a principle of authenticity… Every craftsman makes their object in house from beginning to end.
Since 2008, the Sac du Berger workshop has been the holder of the Living Heritage Compagny (EPV) label, in recognition of its French traditional craftsmanship.
The leather objects presented on this site are made of full grain cowhide leather, tinted full aniline (throughout the thickness) and waterproofed in bath. This quality of leather allows for excellent handling and beautiful patina of age over the years.
On the wool side, we use the traditional felted woolen cloth, which was used to make sheep cloaks. The massing of the material renders it waterproof.
The woolen skins are sheep leather tanned with wool. Slippers, gloves and mittens are machine washable. First choice Merino sheep are used to make our woolen skin jackets and coats.
For our leather clothing, we do not use cowhide as for the bags, but goat or deer, for its flexibility and great duration over time.