Introducing the Bollenhut, a unique element of German folk costume
What makes Germany so unique is its myriad traditions and folk costumes – by turns colourful, playful, grotesque, inspired by Christianity or alluding to a past event. We’re sure that you’d have no trouble identifying Bavarian Lederhosen. But are you also familiar with folk costumes from the Black Forest? Take these distinctive headdresses, for instance: broad-brimmed straw hats studded with bright red pompoms, sometimes as large as coconuts. This is the Bollenhut, which was traditionally worn in the Black Forest region of southwestern Germany. Having come to symbolise the entire region, it also reveals something about its wearers. For instance, a Bollenhut adorned with red pompoms could only be worn by young women once they had been confirmed. Once a woman married, she would wear a Bollenhut with black pompoms.
Bollenhut making in the time-honoured tradition
Today, few people are as well versed in this ancient craft and identify so strongly with the tradition as Waltraud Kech. Ms Kech is a seamstress and a guardian of the Bollenhut tradition. After all, this headdress is so much more than just a fashion accessory that can be picked up in the local shop. Every Bollenhut is one of a kind. Ms Kech spends at least a week painstakingly crafting each one, using up a kilo of wool in the process. The number of pompoms is set in stone: there have to be 14, or which only 11 are visible, as three of the pompoms are hidden beneath the rest. That’s the tradition, and it’s one that you should definitely experience for yourself if you’re ever in the Black Forest.
Discover Germany’s wealth of handicrafts!
Germany has a long and venerable handicraft tradition. Find out more about age-old professions that have been upheld in Germany to this day, whether in their traditional form or as a fresh new take for the modern age.