Type of object
Technique and material


sine dato
31 x 81 cm

A cacolet is a wooden construction developed during the 16th century for shepherds, typically from French-speaking Switzerland. It was used to transport whole cheeses down from alpine pastures. Today it has practically disappeared, but it was quite common from the 18th to the 20th centuries, especially in Gruyère in the Canton of Fribourg, home of the famous Gruyère cheese. The cacolet is also known in the Vaud Jura and the neighbouring French region, and in Appenzell, which are also areas that produce hard cheeses. The cacolet shown here is from the late 19th century. Made of fir wood, it consists of a platform resting on six carved legs attached to two arms, called “horns”. To carry it, the shepherd places the “horns” on his shoulders. The platform with the cheese rests on his head, which is protected by a cloth. In the dialect of the French-speaking Swiss, this device is also called oji or oiseau (bird), though nobody quite knows why.

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