Schalk and Bott as heads of the Gengenbach guild lead the parade
On a weekend in January 2018, Gengenbach and its jester guild hosted this year’s regional meeting of the VSAN, the association of Swabian-Alemannic jester guilds. 40 guest guilds from all over Baden-Württemberg and even from Switzerland followed the invitation and participated in the parade. Most of them were accompanied by a band from their town or village.
The climax of the weekend was the big parade on Sunday afternoon. I came over by train to watch, equipped with my camera as usual. The parade started in the western part of the town. I found myself a good spot just 3 minutes from the station.
This time I did not even enter the old town. The weather was fine and partly sunny, which meant good light for the photographers. During this extraordinarily rainy winter, the sunshine was even more welcome.
Next to and in front of me I had a family with a child in a stroller. The little girl was dressed up as a cat, super cute. Certainly she received loads of goodies from the jesters! I appreciated the presence of the stroller, which kept an open gap in the crowd, very useful for taking photos through said gap.
I had the sun in my back and the opening of a street, no shadow cast by houses. I think I caught some fine shots.
For more about the Gengenbach jester guild, please refer to the respective previous entry.
There were 41 numbers listed and most groups turned out to be large, so this parade took several hours. After number 28 and almost three hours, I was stiff and my feet, legs, back, everything hurt, so I decided to leave and catch the next train which was due five minutes later. Hence I saw but three quarters of the parade. (I am growing old! Ten years ago this would not have occurred to me!)
The guilds I missed were, though, all groups I had seen and photographed extensively in previous years. So it wasn't such a loss for my photo archive.
Stubborn horses, led by drovers, are part of the show.
The Weingarten guild carry long whips (Karbatschen) and know how to use them. It's better to make room for them.
Wangemer Narrenzunft, Wangen/Allgäu
Kübelesmarkt Bad Canstatt, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt
The characteristic figure are the Felbenköpf. A historical legend is connected with them:
One very foggy night by the moonlight, the Cannstatters spotted troops of the enemy in the fields around their town, ready to attack... however, the "soldiers" turned out to be nothing but the pollard willows lined up along the path. The masks represent the willow stumps.
"Moons" walk among them.
The crazy fire brigade of Bad Cannstatt
Narrizella Ratoldi Radolfzell, Holzhauermusik Radolfzell
Two crazy woodcutters
Perhaps the most beautiful of all jesters. They can be described as the elegant, courtly, distinguished, gentle jesters who don't harm anyone. They walk in rows of four and perform a polonaise. Lt the photos speak for themselves.
Fastnachtsvereinigung Herbstein, Springerzug
Herbstein is located in the Vogelsberg mountains in Hessen - in theory far away from the range of the Alemannic Fastnacht, but they are often guests at jester meetings. They are famous for their jumping dance.
Bajazz, the king of the jumpers, leads the row of the dancers. They run in pairs and perform their rythmic jumps, which require a high level of physical fitness.
All the "girls" are impersonated by boys, by the way!
My photo reveals the answer to the question of all questions:
What do they wear underneath...?
Narrenzunft Kißlegg Hudelmale
Unusual masks with unusual origins: they are not carved in wood like most others, but made from gauze and painted.
Sachsenheim near Stuttgart is the northernmost centre of the Swabian Fastnacht region. However, these masks are not Swabian. The tradition of the Urzel day originates in Transsylvania and was imported by "Siebenbürger Sachsen" who left Romania and moved to this village in the post-war era.
Schantle and Hansel. The vicinity to Villingen and its traditional guild cannot be denied.
The brown Moosmulle is a Häs for females and refers to the hard work of cutting peat in the nearby moors.
The tall Hölzlekönig is a singular figure, referring to a particularly huge fir tree in the woods near Schwenningen. After a lightning stroke the trunk received a metal cover.
Narro and Narrönin
Laufenburg is located on the Hochrhein, right on the border, and consists of two separate towns with the same name: Swiss Laufenburg on the southern bank, German Laufenburg on the northern.
Until 1801 the town was united; politics then divided it (for the history buffs: in the peace treaty of Lunéville the southern side was given to Switzerland, the northern side to Austria; the latter became property of the Grand-Ducvy of Baden five years later).
Their carnival is an international joint venture. The "Old Fishermen's Guild" has members from both towns and they do their celebrations together. They have a common administration with two presidents, one from each side, and parity in the guild council.
The big salmon is their symbol and refers to Laufenburg's history as a centre of salmon fishing.
The jesters are all male. Only in rare cases a female member is admitted as "guild brother" with full rights.
There is one single female figure among them, called Narrönin, always worn by a male guest who is not a member of the guild.
Rottenburger Ahlande and Pompele
Guests from Basel: a small Clique with the characteristic piccolo flutes.
They go "Charivari", i.e. each of them has an individual costume and mask to their liking.
The hand-written sign informs us that they apologize for coming without drummers because of the flu.
An unusual group that consists of individual figures.
Narrenzunft Frohsinn Donaueschingen
A very pretty group, walking in pairs: the ladies in traditional local dress (Tracht), the men in white Narro Häs.
Schellnarren, their large belt with the open bells is unique.
The straw bear is a single figure, lead by four drovers.
See what you can do with those ugly ties you got for Christmas!
Those in the right photo are named Clon - not clones but clowns.
Acrobatics performed by the young members
Their jesters are gentle people - or they seem to be
Katzenmusikverein "Miau" Villingen
We have met them already in my Villingen report. The Cat Musicians are led by the Tomcat Miau. Just like the Schalk in Gengenbach, he sleeps in a tower all year unless the guild come to awake him at the beginning of the Fastnacht.
A guild with a colourful Häs, named Jokili. Their home is a wine village in Kaisterstuhl.
Das Hohe und Grobgünstige Narrengericht Stockach
The jester court of Stockach holds a (mock) trial against a high-ranking politician every year. The sentence always involves, as punishment, the delivery of a certain amount of wine, which will them be consumed during the guild's meetings throughout the following year.
The judges are accompanied by Hansel in their colourful fabric masks.
Althistorische Narrenzunft Offenburg
Spättle in their colourful Häs, the jetser parents, and a member of the brass band. The flag attached to the trumpet shows the double-headed imperial eagle and refers to Offenburg's status as a free imperial city.
The name "Haslach" sounds simlar to the German word for hazel.
Hazelnuts and hazel leaves inspired the Häs of the local guild.
Kids are taken to the parades from youngest age. I am amazed how well this little one is sleeping despite all that noise and ballyhoo around.
Schellenhansel, named after the little bells attached to their clothing, are the most colourful members of the guild.
My favourite Haslach jesters are the Ranzengarde, though. "Dressed" in wine barrels, sporting long wooden noses and poited hats, they offer wine from the tap to selected people in the audience.
The jester troop, a parody on the military of the Napoleonic era, march with long guns and a cannon, and every now and then they fire a salute. They very kindly warn the spectators in advance. So, hold your ears!
Schramberg's jesters: The Narro with his horns looks a bit scary, Brüele is always crying despite all the fund, Hansel is the elegant and friendly type.
Schramberg is famous for an extraordinarily silly and funny carnival tradition: floating down the canal through the town in a wooden tub. I have already described this in a previous entry. The guild of the Bach-na-Fahrer walks in parades with a little "tub" round their bellies.
Red Devils from Triberg
Narrenzunft Krakeelia Waldkirch
The blue and yellow Bajass, dressed in the style of a court jester from the late middle ages, is Waldkirch's main figure.