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Black Forest Bollenhut: history, meaning and manufacture

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The Black Forest Bollenhut is a symbol of the Black Forest like no other. It is available in different colors, the Bollen are its characteristic and it adorns the heads of women with traditional costumes.

What is the Bollenhut?

The attached Bollen make the Black Forest Bollenhut the eye-catcher it is. The Bollen are made of wool and the beautiful red hat is a symbol of the Black Forest region. There it is actually only really widespread in a smaller area. But everyone knows him and everyone knows: This is the symbol of the Black Forest!

Actually, it mainly has its origins in Hornberg-Reichenbach, Kirnbach and Gutach. It is available with black and red "Bollen". The Bollen milliners know: a hat has fourteen such "Bollen", three of which are hidden. Ms. Aberle, for example, is the only Bollen hat maker in Gutach. Customs are still very important here. The parents used to live entirely from the costume. People used to get married in traditional costume, but now it's rare.

The Black Forest Bollenhut only strengthens the maintenance of customs. Such a hatter is always convincing, enjoys her work and acts authentically. Because it is an art to apply the balls of wool to the plaster blank and then to complete the straw hat. And here Bollen are not just Bollen at the Black Forest Bollenhut. There are three round ones and the rest of the bulbs are oval. At the very end, everything is then sewn onto the facon cut. Above all, the first ball must sit exactly.

About two kilograms of wool are used for a Black Forest Bollenhut, which is usually desired in red and less in black. The color of the balls has to do with the stand. The single always wear red Bollen and the married black Bollen. Regarding the cut: With hairdressing scissors, all wool threads are then cut off exactly centimeter by centimeter and corrected. Not too much and not too little should be cut off. It's the hat maker's good eye, touching up is important and a lot of patience, because, according to the hat maker, wool works just like wood.

The bolls are then sewn on in two or a maximum of three hours. The whole hat is ready in a week.

Gabriele Aberle shows how a Bollenhut is made.

Who wears the Bollenhut?

The Black Forest Bollenhut is worn by traditional costume wearers (Gutach, surrounding areas, etc.). But some of them are also kept in the display cabinets of the locals there. Many people also buy a Black Forest Bollenhut as a souvenir or for carnival. Very special small Bollenhuts are also offered here, which then serve more as souvenirs.

Usually the ladies wear it within the family and it is traditionally passed on. There are rarely new traditional costumes. Because the production of the Bollenhut is complex and, above all, time-consuming. The Bollen milliners are rare and not many still master this art. A professional needs a whole week to make such a Bollenhut.

Above all, the Bollenhut is worn as part of the local folk costume. It is usually worn together with the associated costume on festivals or events related to customs. You can see the hat together with the costume, for example in the "Black Forest Costume Museum" in Haslach (in the Kinzig valley) or in the Vogtsbauernhöfe open-air museum.

Image from the Vogtsbauernhöfe open-air museum near Gutach

Where is it still worn today?

In the region, the red Bollenhut is still worn by the girls at confirmation and some still get married in the traditional costume with the red hat. The married ladies wear the black Bollenhut. However, it is mainly worn at traditional festivals. Traditionally, the hat may only be worn by the "natives". It is often passed on for generations. The production is expensive and complex.

The black and red Bollenhut is still worn today when, for example, traditional costumes are popular in the Kinzig valley. This is the case on high church holidays or also at confirmation, at Easter or at the harvest festival. Even at weddings, the guests often still wear this costume or at other beautiful celebrations.

Of course, anyone else interested in traditional costumes can also buy and wear a Bollenhut. The Bollenhut is also used again and again in the film industry, in the theater or in art. It is and remains the symbol of the Black Forest in its most beautiful form.

Historical background

This Bollenhut, which is world famous, has its historical origins in three communities in the Kinzig valley in the middle of the beautiful Black Forest. These include Wolfach-Kirnbach, Gutach and Hornberg-Reichenbach. This folk costume is traditional and can be worn by the locals for traditional events or other celebratory occasions.

As early as 1800, this straw hat with the Bollen was worn by the evangelical women in the three well-known villages in the Black Forest. All three villages belong to the "Duchy of Baden" and have been Protestant since 1534. The communities of Kinzigtal, on the other hand, are Catholic. At that time, millinery was used and introduced as real job creation.

Black Forest Maidle with Bollenhut

As early as 1797, Duke Friedrich Eugen (Württemberg) ordered straw hats to be used with the usual decoration of red and black bobbles. This date, January 7.1.1797th, XNUMX, marks the birth of the Bollenhut from the Black Forest.

The hat is not to be found in the entire Black Forest but only in the three communities of Gutach, Wolfach-Kirnbach and Hornberg-Reichenbach. The Bollenhut is still worn today by the traditional costume groups there.

The wide-brimmed, whitewashed straw hat bears 11 striking, cross-shaped bulbs made of wool; for unmarried young girls these are red, for married women they are black. A Bollenhut can sometimes weigh up to 2 kg and is still painstakingly handcrafted by a hat maker.

The red Bollenhut may only be worn by the girls after confirmation.

Today, the Bollenhut is also a symbol for the Black Forest and can be seen on every Black Forest brochure.

What is the Black Forest Bollenhut?

The Black Forest Bollenhut is a traditional headdress from the Black Forest that is often associated with the region. It consists of a flat hat with a red bun and is often part of traditional costumes.

How many Bollen does a Bollenhut have?

The hat has a total of 14 bolls, three of which are hidden under the other bolls.

Who wears a red Bollenhut?

Only unmarried girls are allowed to wear a hat with red bobbles.

Who wears a black Bollenhut?

Black Bollen are on the hats of married women.

Where is the hat worn?

The Bollenhut is only worn in the communities of Kirnbach, Gutach and Hornberg-Reichenbach

When was the Bollenhut invented?

January 7, 1797 is considered the birth of the Bollenhut

How is the Black Forest Bollenhut made?

The Black Forest Bollenhut is traditionally made by hand. First, the flat straw hat is braided and then provided with a red boule. The hat is then tied with a band of black wool and a tassel of silk threads.

When is the Black Forest Bollenhut worn?

The Black Forest Bollenhut is often worn on festive occasions such as weddings, celebrations and folk festivals. It is also a popular souvenir for tourists visiting the Black Forest.

Images courtesy of Michael Fritzen - stock.adobe.co, Stefan Asal and Corri Seizinger - stock.adobe.co