Schwalm Costume

Schwalm Cap Templates and their different Decorations (2)

In part 1 a wide range of different patterns has already been shown. The second part provides patterns that focus on stars and birds.

Many nice templates present a star in the centers.

Center star with petals

embroidered with wool in green with purple,

and in green with red.

Star with a cross in the center surrounded by tulips and petals without edge

and with an edge border

embroidered with wool and silk in green with purple,

and again embroidered with wool and silk in two greens with purple,

in green with red,

in black with purple,

in black with red.
I also have some templates without matching caps:

Star with tulips, hearts, and pinks,

in two similar versions

and star with tulips and pinks,

and tow others without stars.

I also have some caps without matching templates:

One attractive design exists only as drawing.

For me, the few patterns that include birds are especially interesting. The template maker Johannes Knapp (born 1868) from Loshausen created them.

I could show another twenty-three designs – as templates or embroidered. However, in the museums of Schwalmstadt-Ziegenhain and Schrecksbach-Holzburg one can certainly find even more examples of pretty traditional Schwalm caps and their templates.
Incidentally, Jessica Grimm visited the museum recently. She posted a nice and worthwhile article on her blog.

Schwalm Cap Templates and their different Decorations (1)

Schwalm embroidery uses a finite number of motifs. Always changing combinations (motifs and colours) and arrangements decorate – in a surprisingly large number of attractive patterns – the relatively small areas of the cap bottoms. Here I will give a small insight into them.

Not all of the templates I have on hand are crafted with precision, and the caps – due to their age – are sometimes a little bit worn, but the opulence of these small traditional accessories are clearly visible.

As far as possible, I will first show the underlying template and then different embroidered examples.

One heart with four tulips and three rosettes

in green with red,

and in black with green.

One heart with four tulips and three starflowers

in green with red and pink,

and similar examples in red with green and gold,

in black with green,

and in black with green and purple.

One heart with four tulips and three pinks,

and another version of the same design

embroidered with wool in green and red,

in green with purple,

and again in green with purple,

in black with green and purple,

in black with purple,

in black with white,

and again in black with white. The black-and-white examples show very clearly that different emphases can be established with different colour placements.

One heart with eleven tulips

slightly modified in green with purple.

Four hearts and tulips

slightly modified in green with purple.

Five hearts, two tulips, and two pinks

in green with purple,

green with red,

again green with red,

green with black,

black with purple/pink and green

red with green,

red with green and gold,

red with green,

black with purple,

again black with purple,

black with purple/pink and green,

and black with white.

Vessel with one tulip, four hearts, and two pinks

in green (much faded) with purple,

again in green with purple,

in two different greens with purple,

and again in green with purple,

in green with red,

in green with red, purple, and yellow,

in green with red and purple,

in green with black,

in red with green and gold,

in red with green,

in red with green and silver,

and in purple/pink with black.

Vessel with one tulip and six hearts

in green with purple, partially embroidered with wool,

in green with purple,

in black with green.

The last two examples clearly show that individual interpretation can vary significantly in spite of using the same templates.

Although the Schwalm costume is associated with Little Red Riding Hood, this overview shows that red caps did not predominate. I realize that this overview is based on my collection, however I think it is a true representation because red caps were only worn up to the marriage; all other colour combinations were worn from the marriage to the end of life – a much longer period of time.

This first part has shown a wide range of different patterns; a second part will follow showing even more patterns.

Schwalm Costume – The Little Caps

Schwalm women wore little caps to match their festive costume. The little caps were placed over the hair knots.

The little caps had different sizes depending on the wearer: child, adult, or woman with an especially magnificent head of hair.

The little caps were primarily flat and wide; later they became more and more tall with the sides tapered down to a smaller opening.

The little caps had walls and lids – the so-called cap bottoms. The walls were covered with silk or moiré. They were black. Only unmarried girls wore caps with red walls. (One source propounds that these red caps are the origin of the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood)

The bottoms of the caps were elaborately and usually colourfully embroidered. The colours always matched the colour of the costume – red, green or blue (purple).

Many artistic designs came from the template maker. Perfectly crafted templates were primarily covered with colourful embroidery using fine woolen yarn; silk threads were used later.

Much later, gold and silver bullion and sequins were added.

The older, somewhat wider caps were usually additionally decorated at the edges with narrow single templates, which were also finely embroidered.

Drawing on these rich design arrangements as inspiration, I asked the designer Christa Waldmann to draw outlines for whitework. Look forward to seeing the beautiful results next week.

Each cap had matching (in colour) cap bands, the Kappenschnüre.

The ends of these cap bands were made very differently – this is a subject of a future article.

Schwalm Women’s Hairstyle – The “Schnatz”

Schwalm girls and women wore their hair long without a fringe (bangs). The hair was styled into a knot, which in the Schwalm is known as Schnatz. To create such a hairstyle, women needed certain accoutrements: a long, thin band or cord (like a shoestring), rubber bands, and some hairpins.

The hair was combed from all sides and pulled firmly upward to be bound on top of the head. This is easily achieved by quickly throwing the head downward.

The hair was divided into two plaits.

The band was worked into one of the plaits.

Both plaits were twirled up from the head as high as the finished knot should reach.

One of the plaits (the one with the band) was held up while the other was wrapped downwards around the twirled part and fastened at the head with hairpins.

Now the second plait – the one with the band – was wrapped around the established knot. Because the band is longer than the plait, it is wrapped around the bottom of the knot and fastened with hairpins.

With some practice a perfect and fancy hairdressing was achieved.

It was placed on top of the head, approximately in the middle between the ears.

The Schwalm women needed this somewhat curious hairstyle to be able to wear their special headdresses.

The little caps were placed over the knots.

Schwalm Costume – The Beaded Necklaces

Schwalm women wore short beaded necklaces with their festive costumes.

These necklaces were mostly made with Bohemian glass beads with a bevel polishing.

They were also made with amber beads (for wealthier women).

The amber beads also got a bevel polishing.

A coloured silk ribbon was used to secure the necklace.
The beads of the necklace did not fully encircle the neck; a short distance at the back of the neck was bridged with the silk ribbon.
The beads were strung onto a strong thread.

Often the heavy necklaces were worn doubled. A knot in the thread

marked the place where the strand was turned and laid back.

The mid point of the silk ribbon was fastened at one end of the strand.

One end of the ribbon was threaded through the folded back strand at the knot mark on the opposite side of the necklace.

The ribbon ends were secured with a knot at the back of the neck.

In single strands, the beads were approximately the same size, but different sizes for girls and women were common.

Often the beads for adults had a diameter of about 2 cm. Such a double-row necklace containing thirty beads (on the left in the above image) weighs 280 g! Did you ever wear such a heavy necklace?

The amber discs had a thickness of nearly 1 cm
and a diameter of more then 2 cm.
Such a double-row amber necklace containing seventy-four discs weighs 190 g.

The chains lie upon the silk neckerchiefs.

This makes wearing the heavy rocks more pleasant.

Black necklaces made from glass beads were worn with the black costume.

In addition to these most common necklaces, there were also necklaces for special occasions such as marriage. These will be subject of a future article.


Luzine Happel
Am Schindeleich 43
37269 Eschwege
Telefon: 05651-32233


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