Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Overview of the Folk Costumes of Germany


Hello all, 

Today I will attempt to give an overview of the Folk Costumes of Germany. As in many parts of Western Europe, the survival of Folk costume in Germany is very spotty. The image above is the costume of Miesbach in Upper Bavaria, which is what usually comes to mind when one thinks of Germany. There are a great variety of other costumes. I will try to show one costume from each of the Regierungs Bezirke, the mid level administrative districts of Germany. This will give a broad survey of the nation. Here is a map of the States, followed by a map of the Regierungs Bezirken.



I will proceed roughly north to south. I will also omit the costumes of ethnic minorities, such as the Frisians and the Sorbs.You will note that dirndls will not be in evidence. Dirndls developed in the 20th century from traditional everyday attire, and while they are a folk costume, they are not regional. Some of them are very beautiful, some practical, and others very tacky and schlocky, or downright slutty. There is a place for them, but I will show here the traditional more dressy attire. Also note that this is far from exhaustive, some regions have many more costumes.

 Schleswig-Holstein
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schleswig-Holstein 

This State is not subdivided into districts, but historically, the north part is Schleswig, and the south is Holstein, the traditional border being the Eider River. Most of the population speaks German today, but many of the people of Schleswig are of Danish or Frisian origin, and many  in the east of Holstein are of Slavic [Wendish] origin.

Schleswig
 This photo shows a variety of the costumes of Schleswig.



Holstein


 This group is from Probstei, by Shoenberg. 



Hamburg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamburg 
The city of Hamburg is geographically within Holstein, but has the status of a State within Germany. There is a very well maintained folk costume in the district of the Vierlande, which lies within its borders.



Mecklenburg-Vorpommern 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mecklenburg-Vorpommern

 This State is also not divided into districts, but is historically made up of Mecklenburg, which comprises the western two thirds of the State, and Vorpommern, or Cispomerania, which lies in the east.

Mecklenburg



Vorpommern

This is the costume of Moenchgut, on the island of Ruegen.



Brandenburg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburg 
The population of this state are a mix of Germans, this being the heart of the Germanic Prussian Empire, and Slavs [Wends], who have mixed in this region since the 10th cent.
Most of the Folk costumes which are seen in this region are Sorbian. This costume is from the village of Dennewitz and is known as the Flaeming tracht.



 Berlin
 Berlin is completely surrounded by the State of Brandenburg. I do not believe that the city has any folk costume tradition.

Obersachsen, Sachsen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxony 

This translates as Saxony, or Upper Saxony, and is found in the southeast corner of the present borders of Germany. Many of the folk costumes of this State are Sorbian. Here is an Upper Saxon costume from around Dresden.

 

Sachsen-Anhalt 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saxony-Anhalt 

This translates as Saxony-Anhalt, and lies between the states of Saxony [Upper Saxony], and Lower Saxony.

This group is from the Harz.

This group is from Salzwedel in the north.


Niedersachsen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lower_Saxony 

Lower Saxony, this lies in the northwest corner of Germany. It is today divided into four Bezirke, Lueneburg, Hanover, Braunschweig, and Weser-Ems.

Lüneburg

Here is one extremely well maintained costume of this area, from Scheessel.

  Hanover 

One of the most famous and spectacular costumes of this area is that of Buekeburg in Schaumburg.


Braunschweig



Weser-Ems
This costume is from the town of Lingen in Emsland.

 

Bremen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremen 

The famous city of Bremen forms its own City-State in two non contiguous districts, Bremen and Bremen-Port.

 Thüringen

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thuringia 

Thuringia, This borders all three Saxonys on the south, with Hesse in the west, and Bavaria in the south.It



  Hesse

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesse 

This is the home of the Hessians. It lies in central Germany The three Bezirke divide Hesse into northern, central and southern regions.

North Hesse

This costume is from the Schwalm, which is the location of the famous German Fairy Tale Rotkäppchen, which literally means 'Little Red Cap', which you can see in the photo. For some strange reason, this is usually translated into English as 'Little Red Riding Hood'. In fact, she did not wear a hood, but a little red cap like this.

 

Central Hesse

 This costume is from Marburg.


South Hesse

 This couple is from Odenwald.
Nordrhein-Westfalen 

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Rhine-Westphalia

 This state combines the historic region of Westphalia in the north with the northern part of the Rhineland in the south.

Westphalia 

This costume is from  near Münster 


Nordrhein

 This is the most populous part of Germany, and there is little that is remembered of Folk Costume.This group is from Elsdorf.

 

Rheinland-Pfalz

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhineland-Palatinate

 This is often translated as Rhineland-Palatinate. This northern part of this State consists of the southern part of the Rhineland. The southern part consists of the Pfaltz found along the Rhine which was formerly a non-contiguous part of the Kingdom of Bavaria.. It is found in central Western Germany, along the French border. 

Rheinland
This costume is from Winningen on the Mosel.

 
Pfaltz
This costume is from Hassloch.
 


Saarland

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saarland

This lies in the corner of Germany that borders Lorraine. This group is from the town of Homburg.


Baden-Württemberg

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baden-W%C3%BCrttemberg 

 This lies in the southwest corner of Germany and consists of the historic regions of Baden and Wuerttemberg, or Schwabia.Baden is a relatively narrow region on the west of this area, and Wuerttemberg comprises the eastern two thirds.

Lower Baden

This costume is from the area known as Hanauerland. The similarities to the costume of the neighboring region of Alsace are obvious.


  Upper Baden

This group is from the village of Furtwangen in the Black Forest.


North or Lower Württemberg

This is the Betzingen costume.

  South or Upper Württemberg

This costume is from the region of WestAllgäu, near the Bodensee. It has much in common with Austrian and Swiss costumes just over the border, including the famous radhaube [wheel headdress].


 Bayern

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bavaria

Bavaria, in the south of Germany, the largest State. It consists of Upper Bavaria, Lower Bavaria, The eastern part of Schwabia, and Franconia.

Schwaben

This costume is from Oberstdorf in Bavarian Swabia. 

 

Mittelfranken

This costume is from Schwabach.

Unterfranken

This costume is from Ochsenfurt in Lower Franconia.

Oberfranken 

This costume is from Effeltrich in Upper Franconia.

  Oberpfaltz

Sometimes translated as The Upper Palatinate, this is in the east of the State of Bavaria between Bavaria proper and Franconia. This costume is from Parsberg.



Niederbayern 

This costume is from the Vils valley in Lower Bavaria.

 

Oberbayern
Upper Bavaria, the region which is best known for the Miesbach costume, which I featured at the head of the article. Here is a lesser-known costume from the Lech-Ammersee area.


This concludes this article. There are, of course, many more costumes within Germany, both German and non-German. There are also many German costumes from outside Germany, as there are or were many German colonies scattered as far east as the Volga. 
I hope that you have found this interesting and informative.

Roman K.

rkozakand@aol.com

Source material:
Much of this is from the websites of various local groups in Germany.
Sieglinde Plank, 'Trachten in Mittelfranken', Schwabach, 1983
Toni Demmelmeier et al, 'Trachten in Bayern vol 1 Miesbach', Munich, 1981
Reinhard Worschech, 'Trachten in Bayern vol 2 Unterfranken', Wuerzburg, 1982
Stefan Hirsch et al, 'Trachten in Bayern vol 5 Lech Ammersee', Munich, 1995
Waltraut Werner-Kuenzig, 'Schwaltzwaelder Trachten', Karlsruhe, 1981
Christiane Gaedtgens, 'Norddeutsche Stickmuster aus Vierlanden, Rosenheim, 1986
D. W. Pettigrew, 'Peasant Costume of the Black Forest', London, 1937
Uwe Karsten, 'Deutsche Trachten', Vienna, 1980
Christian Nieske, 'Trachten in Mecklenburg', Husum, 1991
Debionne/Meissner, 'Die Schoensten Deutschen Trachten', Munich, 1987
Maria Reiners, 'Unsere Tracht', Potsdam, 1930's?
Albert Kretschmer, 'Das Grosse Buch der Volkstrachten', Eltville am Rhein, reprinted 1977
Haus Neuerburg, 'Deutsche Volkstrachten -Eine Sammlung Deutscher Trachtenbilder', Koeln am Rhein, 1938
Friederike Kaesting et al, 'Rote Roeke', Hannover, 2000
Brunhilde Miehe, 'Der Tracht Treu Geblieben bd 4', Bad Hersfeld, 2005
Josef Dunninger, 'Deutsche Volkstrachten', Berlin, 1911

27 comments:

  1. thank you roman. i´v been searching for "tracht" in my region saxonia since years, but all i could found is the slavic sorbian or bohemian costume. in the museum in dresden they have some dresses from the 19.cent. - but they´r more typical period fashion then folk costume. how can this be? why is there a whole region without a tracht?? any suggestions?
    beate from http://bahnwaerterhaeuschen.blogspot.de/

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  2. just blogwalking.. Nice post and have a nice day :)

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  3. Hello K. Roman, I loved your blog. It is very detailed with rich information. I am Geovane Westrup, Volkstanzgruppe Immerfroh dancer City Forquilhinha, state of Santa Catarina - Brazil, and would like to learn more about the tracht Winningen on the Mosel and in Oberstdorf Bavarian Swabia.
    I will be very grateful if you make a page on the blog explaining about these costumes.
    Thanked already!

    Hallo Roman K., liebte ich einen Blog. Es ist sehr reich mit Informationen beschrieben. Ich bin Geovane Westrup, Volkstanzgruppe Immerfroh Tänzerin Stadt Forquilhinha, Bundesstaat Santa Catarina - Brasilien, und möchte mehr über die tracht Winningen an der Mosel und in Oberstdorf Schwaben lernen.
    Ich werde sehr dankbar, wenn Sie eine Seite auf dem Blog zu erklären über diese Kostüme machen.
    Bedankte sich schon!

    Olá K. Roman, adorei seu blog. Ele é muito detalhado com informações ricas. Eu Sou Geovane Westrup, dançarino do Immerfroh Volkstanzgruppe da cidade de Forquilhinha, estado de Santa Catarina - Brasil, e gostaria de conhecer um pouco mais sobre os tracht de Winningen no Mosel e de Oberstdorf em Suábia da Baviera.
    Ficarei muito grato se fizer uma página no blog explicando sobre estes trajes.
    Agradecido desde já!

    Geovane Westrup
    CAI President - Cultural Association Immerfroh

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  4. fantastic tool to identify locations in old photos

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  5. Finally! Someone who doesn't deny that traditional costumes existed in Nordrhine-Westfalien. My relatives there just GI e you the equivalent of a deer-in- headlights response when I've asked about this. I sing in a German American choir here in Evansville, and I would love to wear a costume like that my ancestors wore, instead of Bavarian traditions, but can't get a clue as to what they wore. You'd think they went straight from caveman furs to modern western dress in northern Germany, to hear my relatives respond to my inquiries on the subject of ethnic dress in the area my Dad came from.

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    1. Dress has developed everywhere, but some areas, especially large munipalities, never really developed a distinct costume of their own. City costume has always been different from that of the villages. City costume is what one sees in the general history of costume. The region that you mention is one of great industrialization and city influences. The costumes of this region look little different from general 17th century clothing. It is also true that many modern Germans have little to no cognizance of the tracht traditions of their area. I would recommend doing searches of Tracht and Trachtengruppe in the general area. It is very likely that you will find something from not too far away. Good luck to you.

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    2. Which are are you looking for?

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  6. Wo sind doe Kostueme fuer die Schwarzwaldgegend? Die Frauenhuete mit den grossen roten Kugeln? Ich war sehr ueberrascht, dass diese hier nicht gezeigt werden.

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  7. Does anybody know a source where one can buy such costumes?
    If you do, would you please respond herin a comment? Thank you.

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  9. Wo sind denn die Schwartzwälder Kostüme?

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    1. These are not all the tracht of Germany. Schwarzwald in particular has many trachten. The famous tracht with the bollenhuete was only worn in the area around Gutach. I chose to present a different Schwarzwaelder costume in this article.

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  10. These are not (called) costumes! They are traditional clothing = Tracht !!!!! Costumes are for carneval, halloween and partys ;-)
    Sven Peters, Germany

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    1. You do have a point, but this distinction is not as clear in English, and in many languages the term costume is very neutral. There is definitely a difference between traditional attire and dress up costumes.

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    2. "Costume" was used before about the 1920's or so in the same way that present-day English speakers use the word "outfit".

      In any case, "costume" is the standard word used in the study of historical clothing. Roman used the term correctly.

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  11. This is really wonderful. I traveled extensively in Germany when I was a costume supervisor for the musical, "42nd Street". I would love to see what was worn in the Stuttgart area where my German relatives are from. When I was in Stuttgart, I was busy tracking down information about a Zimtwafeleisen that my Great Great Grandparents brought over when the immigrated to Ohio. Do you think you will be adding to this in the future. When I left, my crew in Berlin gave me a great book called "Trachten Skizzenbuch" as a going away gift, but it does cover that region either. Do you think you will be adding to this?

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    1. Haha wow. My ancestors came from the Stuttgart area and settled in Ohio too (Columbiana County). They likely came over well before your great-great-grandparents, but that's still interesting. They evidently really liked northeastern Ohio (for some reason) because their cousins were still coming to join them decades later.

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  13. Hello. My German ancestors came from Heiden, Germany. Might you have any info as to the tracht from that area, or be able to point me to a resource that I could reasearch it further? Also, you mentioned up top that you create/sew tracht - I'd like further info on that as well. Thanks! Laura Busch Vanderbilt

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    1. Hello Laura,

      I'm not sure what you know about Heiden, It is found in Borken district, Muensterland, Westphalia.

      This puts it right at the edge of Low Germany, not far from MIddle Germany.

      This areahad lost its Tracht already by the end of the 19th cent.
      I have found no indication that Heiden has a Trachtengruppe, but you might try that.

      I do have a book about Westphalian tracht, but not a whole lot from this particular area.

      I did manage to find a few old photos online as well.

      The most important part of the costume is the haube, or bonnet, of which there were apparantly three types, one for everyday, and two different styles for going out or going to church.

      The rest is relatively standard for west europe, there would be a chemise, blouse, petticoat, ankle length skirt, apron, spencer jacket, and shawl.

      The bonnet is either made of silk and lace with lots of gathers and smocking, or it has gold embroidery on the back, with a simpler construction.

      Do you do sewing or embroidery yourself?
      How formal an outfit do you want?
      Look at the image of the costume of Westphalia above. It will look much like that.

      my email is rkozakand@aol.com

      get back to me and tell me what you think

      Roman K

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    2. Yes! I did study your picture from Westphalia, since you mention it was taken near Muenster, which is very close to Heiden. The two things I noticed that seemed to be unique to that area were the white embroidered shawls and the bonnets for the ladies. The men's clothing seemed a bit more standard, though the long, skinny ribbon ties may be more unique to that region - not sure. My overall impression is that they seem about right, knowing my ancestry as a do. The trachten felt more rural in appearance, and my family comes from farming stock - dairy farming specifically. It was a way of life passed down through the generations once they settled here, until the last couple.

      I do sew and embroider, but alas don't have much time for either these days outside of mending.

      I'll get in touch via email.

      Laura

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  14. Love this post! Perfect for my research project on German culture!

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  15. Ok, maybe I am just looking at the wrong place, so please feel free to correct me. I didn't seem to see any outfits closer to areas bordering The Netherlands. My mom has done our family history and our German lineage traces to what we can loosely figure as German Dutch. Basically, my ansestors lived very close to the border of Germany and The Netherlands that the border changed a few times. Although all records are in German, I've had to do quite a lot of translation. I would like to make a nice outfit for myself that represents my heritage. Where I live there is a very large German American population so the local Germanfest is huge. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. I would be glad to look, You would be talking about Lower Saxony, most likely. What is the exact area that your family came from?

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    2. I'm thinking that is right, my mom has all the records and she is getting back to me with the exact area.

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