and traditions …
When two traditions, even more, two legends meet!
Folklore at Liège, à Lidge (as they say locally)... Qu'ène afer à Lidge
At first a little bit of history
Tchantchès is a legendary personage born within the Liège traditional
puppets (with single rod) appearing in the Outre-Meuse district of Liège at
the beginning of the 19th century. Mostly played were knighthood acts in
particular depicting the emperor Charlemagne (Charles the Great). In between
the acts one could see a character named Tchantchès. Following the demand of
the public, Tchantchès progressively entered more and more into the plays
and became the contemporary of Charlemagne. And as tradition (or legend)
told that Charlemagne was born in the Liège region, Tchantchès had not to go
very far as to meet this great person.
Regarding his name, two theories exist: either it came from the flamish
“Petit Jean” (“Jantje” -Jantche) pronounced in Walloon as “D'jan tchès”, or
from a childish Walloon alteration of the name François, although in the
Liège literature François is translated as “Françwès”.
His traditional costume is made up of white and black checkered pants, a
blue jacket, a red scarf with white dots and a black cap. The typical outfit
of workers in the Liège region at the end of the 19th beginning of the 20th
He embodies the rebel and childish spirit of the Liège people: not impressed
by titles nor crowns, courageous, determined and hungry of liberty. He lives
together with Nanesse who follows him through all his battles.
Besides his theatrical performances; Tchantchès appeared in two comic
strips, one in 1940 in a daily cartoon within the pages of the “La Légia”
newspaper and in 1988 drawn by François Walthéry.
The “Red Devils”
This aerobatic team of the Belgian Air Force was created in 1957 and flew on
Hawker Hunter F.6 until 1963. The team was reinitiated in 1965 and performed
its shows on the mythical Potez CM170 Fouga Magister till 1977.
After some steps, the “Red Devils” saw life again on the Siai Marechetti
SF260 and since 2011 they represent the Belgian Air Component throughout
various air shows.
For the detailed history on the team, please do have a look at our page:
The topic of this Wednesday May 20th, 2015
The encounter of traditions
On Wednesday May 20th, 2015 a ceremony was held at the Tchantchès museum at
Liège for the the hand-over of the 402nd costume to Tchantchès... sorry, to
Commandant Aviator Tchantchès!
Since his birth, Tchantchès regularly received special outfits of all
imaginable kinds (which are exhibited in his Museum).
This Wednesday 20 he received his 402nd outfit... and one of a kind, the
outfit of a pilot of our renowned aerobatic team the “Red Devils”. Moreover,
during this ceremony he was officially promoted to Commandant Aviator within
All this was possible due to an initiative of Jean-Pierre Dechesne who
combines his qualities as a retired Commandant of aviation and his
membership of the Tchantchès Brotherhood.
It was also the opportunity to ally folklore, legends and traditions upon
the 50th anniversary of the reconstitution of the “Red Devils” team
Rendez-vous was taken at the heart of the Outre-Meuse area to celebrate
these events and of course throw a small party around a little glass of
Welcome speeches were done by Jean-Pierre Dechesne followed by the
of the Outre-Meuse Republic, Christian Elaerts. Flowers to the female tailor
who made the flight suit for Tchantchès and souvenirs to the members of the
Team after a little speech from their leader Commandant Aviator Paul “Paolo”
Leys. Then the veil was lifted to uncover Commandant Aviator Tchantchès in
his bright “Red Devils” suit.
Major-General Aviator Frederic “Fred” Vansina, Air Component Commander, took
the opportunity to congratulate the organizers and to hand over the official
licenses to Tchantchès for his qualities as Commandant Aviator and team
member n° 5 within the Red Devils.
Finally General Major Vansina, the team members 2015, the mechanics and two
former Red Devils, “Red” Dewaelheyns and Fred Burnia, signed the guest book.
SBAP team would like to thanks Mister Jean-Pierre Dechesne for the exclusivity of this event
and the "Tchantchès Museum" team for their warm welcome.