In the dialect of Fribourg, the simple two-syllable word poya describes the ritual of driving cows up the mountain to graze. The term has been more precisely applied to the depiction of this time-honoured rural tradition marking the start of the productive season since the 1960s, although poyas first started to appear on the façades of farmhouses in the alpine foothills of Fribourg in the early 19th century. Each farmer would portray his own herd in its finest hour, namely the first flush of springtime. The poya shows a line of cattle processing up a long and winding trail, surrounded by other farm animals, herders in tall hats and other elements that typify life on an alpine farm.

Sylvestre Pidoux (1800-1871), born in Vuadens, is considered to be the first painter of this genre. His works have served as an enduring template for a style that has evolved in line with changes in the alpine economy and livestock preferences. There are several hundred poyas on farms in the region today and fifteen or so painters capable of creating them. While ever fewer people are rearing cattle in the mountains, poyas are enjoying renewed popularity and finding a whole new audience. Their decorative qualities are proving to be a draw for tourists, and they have passed over into interior design as well as a variety of different media.

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Denis Buchs : Les poyas. Neuchâtel 2007

Denis Buchs, Stefan Sonderegger, Marcel Zuend: Poya. Alpfahrtsbilder aus dem Greyerzerland. Herisau, 2001

Guy Filippa: Blick in eine Idylle Schweizer Volkskunst und naive Malerei aus vier Jahrhunderten. Bern, 1983

Etienne Fragnière : La poya. In : Annales fribourgeoises no. 4-5, Fribourg, 1915, p. 158-172

Alain Glauser : Frontons et poyas. Les frontons peints et les peintures de montée à l’alpage en Gruyère, Glâne, Sarine et Veveyse. Neuchâtel 1988

Henri Gremaud : Les peintures de la montée à l'alpage en Gruyère. Survivance et illustrations des « poya ». In : Costumes et coutumes no. 2, Zürich, 1972, p. 2-14

Raymond Gremaud : 1956. Poya d’Estavannens. Des armaillis plein le village. In : La Gruyère, 8 octobre 2007

Claude Haymoz : La Poya d’Estavannens. Bulle 2001

Serge Rossier, Isabelle Raboud-Schüle (Ed.) : La fête de la Poya. 2 vol. Neuchâtel, 2013




Musée gruérien Bulle

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