The Salako is the traditional hat of the fishermen of the islands of Saintes, an archipelago of volcanic islets located in the French West Indies and administratively attached to Guadeloupe. Their inhabitants are called "Saintois". The origin of this hat remains indeterminate. Its arrival probably dates from the 19th century, because the local oral tradition wants that the Salako was brought back from South-East Asia by a naval officer coming from Asia. It is known from the archives that the French naval infantry officers based in Tonkin in 1873, a northern region of present-day Vietnam, wore the "salacco", a headgear close to the Saintois Salako, but of much greater shape, flat and different composition. The other hypothesis put forward by the elders of the archipelago is that the Salako would have made its appearance with the arrival of Indochinese Annamites deported to the prison of the island in 1873 for rebellion against France. Sentenced to years of hard labor, some of them would then remain on the spot, especially in Terre-de-Bas, as farmers or potters. The origin of the word confirms in any case that the "Saintois hat" comes from Asia, more precisely, from the island of Luçon, in the Philippines, where the word "salacco" designates a "wide-brimmed helmet used as covers head, made from natural materials ".
This local hat is made of bamboo whose bark is cut into long strips that are then cut into small pieces of about twenty centimeters. These small pieces are then reshaped in the shape of a point to be stitched on a piece of wood called "mamin", as light as a cork. The headband is woven, always bamboo, like the fishing nets. Even if its use has become much rarer, it is still worn nowadays by some Saintois fishermen for whom it is a perfect working accessory, protecting from the sun as rain thanks to its wide, wind-undeformable edges. well in place with his lace. This everyday object has naturally become an essential and emblematic element of the culture and The Saintes identity ...
Thus, in 1955, the Institute for the Issue of Overseas Departments (IEDOM) decided to immortalize it on the 1000 francs Type 1955 "Pêcheur" (Ref. Pick: # 39 or Kolsky: # 136).
The design of the note is entrusted to the French artist Robert Pougheon. He has already worked on three other magnificent banknotes for the Caisse Centrale de la France d'Outre-Mer ... The 1000 francs Type 1946 "Union française" (Ref. Pick: # 37 or Kolsky: # 135), the 5000 francs Type 1946 "Schœlcher" (Ref. Pick: # 38 or Kolsky: # 137) and the 5000 francs Type 1946 "Antillaise" (Ref. Pick: # 40 or Kolsky: # 138). Unfortunately, the artist dies in March 1955 and will never see the issued note ... a year later!
A Saintois fisherman served as a model for the artist. We do not know who he is ... But we are lucky to have the original photo of this fisherman that we present below. Finally, we solicit all the people who will be able to help us to know more about the identity of this man become famous!
Note: this photo was first shown as an illustration on page 34 of Maurice Kolsky's catalog, "The Banknotes of D.O.M-T.O.M", second edition, Paris 2006.