14 June 2018

Jean Althen in Althen-des-Paluds, Vaucluse (84)

The commune of Althen-des-Paluds is one of the youngest in Vaucluse, officially recognised as one is 1845. The 'Paluds' comes from swamps, but the 'Althen' is a tribute to the Armenian Jean d'Althen or Halovhannès Althounian (1710-1774), who specialised in the madder plant, cherished for its red dye and certain healthy properties of its root. Before, he was a slave in Turkey but was saved and came to Avignon, where he carried out experiments into the cultivation of madder. Althen-des-Paluds prospered in the 1830s due to the madder plant, and it is thanks to Jean Althen that it was able to gain autonomy from Monteux.

An older statue of Jean Althen existed in Althen-des-Paluds but was removed by the Nazis for melting down for weapons. In 2005 a new statue of Jean Althen, by Marcella Kratz, was erected in front of the Mairie in the presence of the French Armenian ambassador.

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