Bavarian Folk Costume: Graphic Dictionary

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A keyring hung from the skirt waistband, sign of power of the mistress of the house. The large, flat hook that fixes it to the waistband is often decorated with (and hidden by) a silver coin surrounded by ornaments.


The Bavarian word for "girl". The association with a garment is relatively new; it is not the same as "female Tracht" and certainly not an authentic, generic term. Today, Dirndl is a dress that bears certain traits of Alpine traditional dress: Close-fitting bodice, skirt of oblong panels pleated (knife or cartridge) into the waist seam, country-ish fabrics and trim. The ancestry of both the word and the shape may lie in young country girls' non-formal, working-day dress.


Square scarf of silk, linen or wool. Folded diagonally, laid around the back of the neck. The middle of the long side would often be fixed to the centre back of the bodice by a needle, the points tucked into the bodice. Depending on the size of the scarf (75x75cm up), fashion and the inclination of the weaer, it could be tucked in on either side of the décolleté or covering the neckline crosswise. Often decorated with lace or fringed, white or in a colour complimenting the dress, and/or embroidered. The finest is silk jacquard.


A kind of decorative chain used mainly for Kropfkette (necklace) and G'schnür (bodice lacing). The name (pea chain) is derived from the rounded shape of its links, which look a bit like rocaille beads with too large holes.


A charm against evil spirits that is fixed to the G'schnür or Schariwari. Its symbolic value probably dates from pre-Christian times. The shape is that of a fist with the thumb sticking out between the index and middle fingers, a gesture traditionally used to fend off evil. There's probably a sexual connotation, too (maybe like "f*** youself" as a term used in defense?).

G'schnür (Geschnür)

The chain "lacing" at the front of the Mieder. It developed from actual (ribbon) lacing that was used to close the Mieder by lacing it first through sewn, then metal eyelets. The lacing developed into a purely decorative element made of Erbskette chain (silver if one could afford it). Charms and coins were threaded onto it, the latter in order to show off one's wealth.

G'schnürhaken / Miederhaken

The decorative hooks that hold the G'schnür. Since the G'schnür doesn't hold anything together anymore, the hooks are only 3/4 closed and often made of soft metal, usually hammered silver-plated brass. Hooks in the image of a snake are often seen. picture


Basically, a needle that was originally used to thread the lacing through the eyelets of the Mieder. When the lacing became decorative, the G'schnürpfeil lost its use, became larger and was hung from the top of the G'schnür or tucked into it. Simple ones consisted only of the silver needle (7-8 cm long, pointed, with a bit of decoration on the other end - see larger drawing), larger ones had a plate of up to 5 cm in diameter fixed at the upper end, with filigree, half-precious stones and mother of pearl decor on it.


Bavarian for gown, dress, clothing in general. No connotation of shape or gender whatsoever.

Kropfkett'n (Kropfkette)

A choker-like necklace, allegedly used to cover the goitre which, for lack of iodiferous food, is still relatively common in Bavaria. A plate of 3-5 cm height and 2.5-4 cm width with similar decoration to that of the G'schnürpfeil is held at the middle of the throat by 4-7 strings of Erbskette.


Bodice. Festive bodices constist of silk satin, everday varieties of linen or wool. Depending on the degree of festiveness (or everdayness) there would be silver G'schürhaken and embroidery of floral design, most commonly stylised roses, but imagination often went rampant. They are stiffened with whalebone and closed with hooks and eyes. Early varieties (late 18th century) probably were boned as stiffly as corsets of the time and closed by lacing through eyelets over a stomacher. Contemporary pictures and the fact that folk costume is basically rural suggest that they supported the body without compressing it, as a corset would. Most common colour is black, but there are surviving examples in coloured brocades and even white.

Miesbacher Hut

A flat, stiff wool felt hat similar to Tyrolean hats, black or green, worn with the costume of Miesbach. During the late 19th century, it became more and more popular with the ladies of Munich and threatened to replace the Riegelhaube. There is a piece of writing by a 19th ct. priest complaining about that fashion and demanding that the women wear the Riegelhaube at least to Mass. The hat is either not decorated at all, or encircled with gold, silver or black cord with tassels on either end that fall down over the brim in back. Eagle feathers are only used in its original (Alpine) region.


The traditional headdress of Munich women. The Miesbacher Hut slowly but steadily replaced it during the late 19th century. It is very stiff, round, about 10-20 cm in diameter and about 3-6 cm high. What was originally a bow on the downfacing side turned into a stiff symbol of a bow. The whole of it is covered in silver, gold, or black beads, metal thread embroidery and purl. They are so rare nowadays that the price of one found at a flea market could easily buy you a Mieder and a Kropfkett'n.


AKA Schari. A chain hung with charms, coins, and hunting trophies. Exclusively found on Alpine men's leather trousers. The only reason I mention it is that it's lately become popular among women dressing up in what they believe is Tracht to wear one. It's a definite don't. Men may take pride in hunting trophies, but women take pride in the household keys hung from her Beschließerring.

Schürze, Fürtuch

Apron. Belongs to a G'wand as smell to cheese. Even a rich city-dwelling lady who never did any housework would wear it. If the bodice is black, the apron would probably be white with lace in the vicinity of the hem. It should be made of the same fabric as the Einstecktüchl or at least the same colour.


A kind of jacket that has developed out of the 18th century caraco. The original version was often but not always red, with a rounded neckline, buttoned down the front, and had winged cuffs on the 3/4 length sleeves. It fitted tightly and sported a short basque. Out of it developed the modern Spenzer / Kassettl with a square, richly decorated neckline.


High-German word for costume, derived from "tragen" (to wear) and originally denoting the costume of a certain class in a certain region at the then current time. Nowadays it means the traditional costume of a certain region, based on (usually) what the Tracht movement of the late 19th/early 20th century postulated as being traditional. The temporal aspect of a regional costume that incorporates traits of high fashion with a certain time lag is often ignored. (Now one could argue that the temporal aspect stretches far enough to incorporate the "Trachten" stuff you get in department stores nowadays, but then what of the regional aspect?)



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