Alpine processions in Appenzell and Toggenburg


Category:
Social practices
  • Oral expressions
Canton:

Description

Around Mount Säntis, the traditional cattle drives up to and down from the alpine pastures follow a defined choreography. The procession is led by Appenzell goats along with boys and girls in traditional dress. These are followed by a herdsman in full traditional dress complete with yellow breeches and a milking pail on his shoulder. Next in line are three cows wearing large dairy bells, three cattle drivers in traditional Sunday clothes with brown trousers, and another herdsman, also in full traditional dress. They are followed by the herds of cows and the owners of the animals, usually accompanied by the Appenzell cattle dog, known as the "Bläss". A cart laden with wooden crockery brings up the rear.

The heavy bells worn by the lead cows are a particular feature of the procession. They ring in harmony with each other and provide a drone accompaniment to the slow wordless yodelling ("Zauren") which is an integral part of the event. They are also the centre of attention during "Schellenschötten", when they are rung by the herdsmen, with small rhythmical movements. In Toggenburg the procession up the mountain is followed by a celebration on Alp Sellamatt, while in Appenzellerland there are three events during the alpine summer: "Alpstobete", "Jakobifeier" and the Herdsmens' Ball. The season is brought to a close with cattle shows.

Image gallery

  • Schwägalp ascent: As soon as the path gets steep, the herdsmen take the large bells from the cows and carry them © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2001
  • Schwägalp ascent: The procession goes on even if it rains © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2001
  • Descent, Restaurant Anker: Well-versed locals and numerous visitors awaiting the procession © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2011
  • Descent, Urnäsch: The procession leaders approaching the village of Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2001
  • Descent, Urnäsch: Children and goats at the head of the procession © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2001
  • Descent, Urnäsch: A farmer leading a bull by its halter; behind him a cart full of tools for the daily work on the alpine pastures © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2011
  • Descent, Scheidweg Urnäsch: To respect tradition, some farmers bring up the rear of the parade with a cart carrying wooden crockery © H. Hürlemann, 2001
  • Schwägalp ascent: As soon as the path gets steep, the herdsmen take the large bells from the cows and carry them on sticks across their shoulders, ringing them in time © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2001
  • Schwägalp ascent: The procession goes on even if it rains © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2001
  • Descent, Restaurant Anker: Well-versed locals and numerous visitors awaiting the procession © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2011
  • Descent, Urnäsch: The procession leaders approaching the village of Urnäsch © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2001
  • Descent, Urnäsch: Children and goats at the head of the procession © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2001
  • Descent, Urnäsch: A farmer leading a bull by its halter; behind him a cart full of tools for the daily work on the alpine pastures © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2011
  • Descent, Scheidweg Urnäsch: To respect tradition, some farmers bring up the rear of the parade with a cart carrying wooden crockery, even though these items are no longer used © Hans Hürlemann, Urnäsch, 2001

Video

From the film "Gelebte Tradition, Brauchtum im Appenzellerland" ("Living traditions: customs in Appenzellerland") © Andreas Baumberger, 2004

References and documentation

Publications
  • Hans Büchler: Der Alpstein. Natur und Kultur im Säntisgebiet. , Herisau, 2000

  • Hans Eugster-Kündig: Schweizerischer Alpkataster. Die Alpen im Kanton Appenzell Ausserrhoden. Herisau, 1993

  • Pater Ferdinand Fuchs: Bauernarbeit in Appenzell Innerrhoden. Ed. Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde. Basel 1977

  • Mäddel Fuchs: Appenzeller Viehschauen. St.Gallen 1998

  • Hans Hürlemann: Brauchtum im Appenzellerland. Herisau, 1996

  • Hans Hürlemann: Urnäsch. Landschaft – Brauchtum – Geschichte. Herisau, 2006

  • Josef Inauen (Ed.): Innerrhoder Alpkataster. Die Alpwirtschaft in Appenzell Innerrhoden (Innerrhoder Schriften 12). Appenzell, 2004

  • Josef Inauen: Innerrhoder Heimweiden. Mit einem Rückblick auf frühere Bewirtschaftungs- und Lebensformen (Innerrhoder Schriften 13). Appenzell, 2007

Documentation