The Bollen hat

 And its history

Gutach, Kirnbach, Reichenbach… these three communities in the Kinzig and Gutach valleys are home to the traditional costume of the Bollen hat. It took its name from the largest of these communities, where almost all aspects of the costume are still made by hand.

The most striking feature of the Gutach costume is the Bollen hat - a straw hat stiffened with white chalk, on which eleven large woollen balls and three particularly distinctive woollen balls are sewn in the shape of a cross. The weight of the hat is around two kilograms.

Single women wear the red Bollen hat with their traditional costume from confirmation to marriage. Married women's hats are trimmed with black Bollen (pompoms). The other aspects of the traditional Gutach costume also contribute its prominent place among the more than 100 traditional costumes to be found in the Black Forest. The black “Wiefel” skirt, the velvet bodice embroidered with flowers, the “Goller” on the décolleté, the collar embroidered with tinsel, the white shirt with puffed sleeves, and, for the men, the black, red-lined Schobe (jacket) create a picturesque image. In the 18th century, this basic pattern was largely known as the old "Teutsche Tracht" (German traditional clothing). Only with more prosperity and freedom from older dress codes did the new, colourful variety of traditional costumes develop. Special features of the Gutach costume include the black silk cap worn under the hat, the "Mäschle" braided into the hair with a short thick plait of tinsel, and pearls. On festive days and for weddings, the Schäpeltracht can be seen.

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The Bollen hat was developed with straw weaving. An instruction from the Duchy of Württemberg in 1797 stated that the "decoration of black and red paint" was to be applied to these straw hats. The painting of the black and red was soon followed by the sewing on of woollen roses, which became increasingly large over the 19th century. With changes to life and work since the Bismarck era, the traditional costume was worn less. In contrast to other traditional costumes, however, it is well preserved in Gutach. It is maintained as a cultural icon worthy of protection and is passed on by expert costume makers and the Bollenhutmacher (Bollen hat maker).


At the start of the 20th century, the Bollen hat could be seen on postcards and stamps. Since the 1920s, it has appeared increasingly in tourism advertising and is also included in stylised form in the logo of Schwarzwald Tourismus GmbH.

The red Bollen hat truly became a symbol of the Black Forest with the release of the 1950 regional film "Schwarzwaldmädel" (Black Forest Girl).

The traditional costume is firmly grounded in religious and secular customs. At the Resurrection celebration on Easter Sunday, at the Harvest Festival (the first Sunday in October), and at community festivals and celebrations, the smart Bollen hat costume can be seen in Gutach. It is also worn at tourist events throughout the Black Forest. It is on display in the Black Forest Open Air Museum Vogtsbauernhof in Gutach, in the Trachtenmuseum Haslach, and in the Black Forest Museum in Triberg.


The Bollen hat 

And its costume

The Bollen hat, which is worn in the communities of Kirnbach, Reichenbach, and Gutach, is completed with traditional matching dress.

An elaborately embroidered collar (Goller) is typical of this festive costume. The dress is made of a black linen and wool fabric called "Wifel", while the stitched-on bodice is made of black velvet embroidered with small, colourful flowers. It is worn with a black silk apron and a white blouse with wide, pleated sleeves decorated with lace. The "Hasenhärenen" are white stockings, knitted by hand from soft angora wool, and are an essential part of the outfit. A thick, red petticoat, a jacket made of black wool or silk, with red lining inside, and black flat shoes complete the costume.

Bollenhutmädel beschriftet
Bollenhutmädel beschriftet – ©



* Copyright with friendly permission:  Text excerpts: Variety of costumes in Baden-Württemberg.  Landesverband der Heimat- und Trachtenverband Baden-Württemberg e.V., published by Gerd Rieker Verlag 2016