HISTORY OF THE APPENZELLER BELT
APPENZELL – A REGION OF TRADITION
Appenzell is famous for its stunning landscape and its deeply rooted traditions and customs. Some of these widely known traditions are Alpaufzüge (processions to the alpine pastures), Landsgemeinde (an open-air political assembly/parliament), Talerschwingen (a practice in which several musicians spin a coin on the inside of a bowl to create a musical tone and form chords in a group), Silvesterchlausen (New Year’s Eve Spirits) or Alpstobete (festivities with dance and music).
Handcraft is also of great importance: rural naive painting, dulcimer-making and of course the saddlery for Alpine herdsmen and dairymen.
CRAFTWORK IN THE OLD-TIM APPENZELL
The saddler follows an old tradition of handcraft that still has its followers. In addition to ornamented trouser-braces, shoe buckles and caps for the Alpine dairymen he also produces handcrafted belts with nickel silver or brass fittings.
Appenzellers always wanted to have what the others had.
Appenzellers were considered poor and vain. “They always wanted to have what the others had. When our mercenaries saw luxurious Renaissance furniture in Italy, they tried to imitate it with their very limited resources.” This is – among other things – how Sebastian Fässler, saddler from Appenzell, explains the penchant for ornamentation in the folklore handcraft from Appenzell.
THE APPENZELLER BELT – PAST AND PRESENT
The Appenzeller belt is an example of old Swiss tradition. The belts have always been made of cowhide and are ornamented with handmade metal fittings, showing motives of processions to the alpine pastures such as herdsmen, suns, ornaments and cows. The more decorations a belt had, the richer the person wearing it.
A well trained eye recognizes the producer by the ornaments.
Today, there are only a few producers left in Appenzell. Daniel Fuchs is one of these, a saddler in the third generation. A lot has remained unchanged: the cutting of the leather and the assemby of the different elements. However, the ornaments are rarely handmade nowadays. The nickel silver and brass ornaments are pressed by a machine, but always following the personal design of the particular saddler. So in a way the ornaments are the producer’s signature and allow a trained eye to recognize a Fuchs, Dörig, Fässler or Thoma.
ORNAMENTS OF THE APPENZELLER BELT