French Zouave - North Africa - 1888 - Help needed

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French Zouave - North Africa - 1888 - Help needed

Post  PauloLib on Tue 02 Nov 2010, 12:58 am

Hi,

can anyone tell me where I can find info (units, uniforms) about French Zouave units in North Africa - 1888?

Thank you.

Cheers,
Paulo

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Re: French Zouave - North Africa - 1888 - Help needed

Post  buistR on Tue 02 Nov 2010, 6:34 pm

Hello PauloLib - the thread "French zouaves in colour" on the Colonial Uniforms section of this website contains about 25 photographs and other illustrations of zouave uniforms posted by McConrad and myself. While these are mostly of the period 1900-14, the only detail in which they differed from those of 1888 was that white or dark blue leggings were worn prior to 1904 (instead of the short puttees shown). If you need further information on specific points then don't hesitate to ask.

Regards

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Re: French Zouave - North Africa - 1888 - Help needed

Post  PauloLib on Sat 13 Nov 2010, 8:41 am

Hello buistR,
I'm sorry for this late reply but work has been taking all my available time.
Thank you for info.

The figure I'm about is this one:
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based on this one
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So I looking for detailed info about this uniform to try to paint it as close as possible to reality.
I'm also looking on info about which units were in North Africa at this time.

Thank you.

Cheers,
Paulo

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Re: French Zouave - North Africa - 1888 - Help needed

Post  buistR on Sat 13 Nov 2010, 2:15 pm

Hi Paulo - the two figures that you show are very accurate representations of colour and uniform for a zouave of the late 1880s (and as already noted the uniform hardly changed until 1914). The white trousers were hot weather wear and for much of the year in Algeria the famous red trousers would have been worn - in identical cut but with arabesque braiding in dark blue on the side seams. This should show on some of the illustrations already posted - if not I will post one that does. Whether in white linen or red cloth, the voluminous Moorish trousers of the tenue orientale (as worn by zouaves, spahis and Algerian tirailleurs) comprised a undivided garment without the separate legs of normal trousers. The zouave jacket was always worn open, showing the waistcoat. In cold or wet weather a short hooded cloak in medium blue was worn. The lighter blue tassel on the fez was to become a parade item, detached for active service, but it had been worn in the field during the Franco Prussian War of 1870.

During the period that you are interested in, a white turban was worn for full dress - wrapped around the fez. For barracks wear plus training and manouvers the jacket and waistcoat were often discarded and a form of all white "shirt sleeves order" was the norm - but still with the medium blue sash and red fez. The sash was very wide and long, requiring the assistance of a friend to put on properly - he held the end several metres away while you pirouetted into it. One reservation about the otherwise accurately represented model-figure is that the sash is only about half the width of the actual garment. Finally, the dark blue leggings were for field or winter wear - white leggings of identical pattern were worn on parade.

In 1900 there were four zouave regiments in French North Africa - the 1er Zouaves stationed in Algiers, the 2e in Oran, the 3e in Constantine and the 4e in Tunis. They were distinguished by the colour of their tombos - the two circular patches on the front of the jacket. These were respectively red, white, yellow and blue for each of the four regiments - so your example is the 1er. All the remaining braiding on the jackets (including that circling the tombos) was red for all regiments. The dashing (and rather unstable) angle at which the fez (chechia) was worn was also of regimental significance. The 1er regiment wore it to the left as shown, the 2e to the right and the 3e straight. It is not clear what style the newly raised 4e followed. On service the fez was sensibly pressed down on the head and a length of white (later khaki) cloth wrapped around the neck and face to give protection against sun-stroke.

A curious practice, that was unique to the zouaves, involved making personal modifications to the jacket worn when off duty ("walking out dress" in British Army parlance). This involved adding even more arabesque braiding, according to individual taste or means. Presumably company tailors made a good living on the side providing this informal service. The zouaves had a phrase for this ecentricity - en fantasisie. As a result some surviving jackets have a distinctly non-regulation appearance.

Hope this is of some help - good luck with your painting!

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Re: French Zouave - North Africa - 1888 - Help needed

Post  PauloLib on Thu 09 Dec 2010, 3:28 am

Hi,

Thanks for the help.
I'm sorry (again) for the late reply but the motives are the same as for the other reply: work.

Any tips on the equipment and its color would most appreciated (what are those pieces of cloth - blue and white- that he has on top of the backpack? Are they only two pieces?).

One last question do you know any good books on French Zouaves?

Thank you once again.

Cheers.

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Re: French Zouave - North Africa - 1888 - Help needed

Post  buistR on Thu 09 Dec 2010, 1:44 pm

Hi again Paulo.

The coloured pieces of cloth on the top of the backpack are items of uniform - the French Zouaves and other North African infantry carried an extraordinary amount of gear. This freed them from excessive dependence on supply wagons but must have been a crippling weight to carry for marching. Pictures of zouaves in summer white trousers usually show them with folded red trousers at the top of the pile and vice versa. The blue item is probably the hooded cloak referred to in an earlier post. Each man had to carry a square metre of canvas to be laced together into a single tent at the end of a march. At the very top a metal gamelle or tin eating-dish was strapped on - one lucky Zouave in each 8 man squad had to carry a metal marmite or saucepan while another carried a bidon - a large cooking tin. Quite a little kitchen on legs. The total weight of rifle, cartridges, equipment, water, rations and clothing carried on the march was about 30 kilos.

Probably the most detailed publication on the Zouaves that I have seen is a two volume set entitled "Zouaves & Tirailleurs: les Regiments de Marche et les Regiments Mixtes (1914-18)", Jean-Louis Larcade, ISBN 2-9515171-0-6. It was published by Editions des Argonautes some years ago. In spite of the title it covers the Zouaves and Turcos not only of World War I but also of the previous decades. Flags, barracks, uniforms everything in very considerable detail with 999 illustrations - mostly photos but some colour plates. I don't know how easy it would be to get hold of copies now though.

Hope this helps

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Re: French Zouave - North Africa - 1888 - Help needed

Post  PauloLib on Thu 09 Dec 2010, 8:07 pm

Thanks for all the help.

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