France | Brittany


Threshing is the process used to separate the edible part of wheat or other cereals from the inedible husk that surrounds it. Before there were threshing machines, grain was beaten by hand, using a range of techniques and tools. The device most commonly used was the flail: a long wooden handle with a shorter, free-swinging stick chained to its end. Another technique was to use a grinding wheel mounted on a central post to which was tethered a donkey, horse or ox.

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Horses at Work
Horse-powered wheat thresher.
France, Brittany, Ille-et-Vilaine
Study, gouache, on white paper
Credit: Frédéric Back
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