L’Emprunt de la paix
This dressing-up costume for a three-year-old child replicates the uniform of a tirailleur algérien, or Algerian infantryman: a bolero jacket with yellow piping and red patch, a blue and white sleeveless vest with yellow piping, a red belt, wide blue trousers with yellow piping, white gaiters and a red shashia with a yellow tassel.
In the early 20th century, the production of manufactured military toys became a matter of national importance in France and Germany. The uniforms of colonial troops – Zouaves, Spahis or Turcos – were practically omnipresent in catalogues of children’s military costumes. They are a reminder of the popularity of the troops of France’s “African army”, who were seen as exotic and valorous.
These games and toys reflected the militarization of society, the exacerbated lust for revenge and the desire to defend the homeland against “the enemy”. Despite its rather charming look, this children’s costume is a reminder that patriotic propaganda extended to childhood and education, contributing to the total mobilization of society.