"Farmer from Mühlenbach" and "Woman from Black Forest" (c. 1860)
Traditional costumes were and continue to be expressions of identity. Local dress held great symbolic importance during the era of regional fragmentation in which Germany was not yet a unified nation-state. Like other German regions, the Black Forest, a low mountain range between Baden and Württemberg, could boast a great variety of local costumes, some of which even differed from one valley to the next. In addition to serving as regional markers, differences in dress also conveyed an individual’s status within society and the family. The man depicted in this colored wood engraving (c. 1860) is identified as a farmer from Mühlenbach, a small town approximately 25 miles northeast of Freiburg. He wears a white shirt with a black neckerchief, a long, elegant black coat with a maroon lining, a brimmed hat, and fine white socks. He also carries a walking stick. The female figure, identified simply as a woman from the Black Forest, wears a black dress with a laced corset, a bright green apron, a white blouse with puffed sleeves, fine blue stockings, and elegant black shoes. She holds a decorative patterned scarf and wears a wide-brimmed straw hat ornamented with a smaller version of the red woolen pompoms still typical of costumes in some areas of the Black Forest today. Colored lithograph, c. 1860.