Sennensattlerei (Alpine saddlery) is the term used for the work of the artisans who decorate leather products for farmers, dairymen and their livestock with brass fittings and coloured embroidery. Artisans painstakingly craft straps with bells for bulls, cows and goats, and elements for the traditional costume of dairymen and women, drawing on traditional motifs, figures and ornaments that are characteristic of Alpine farm life. Each Alpine saddler has his or her own ‘handwriting’ which is expressed in his or her way of drawing and engraving. This craft has been practised in Appenzell and in Toggenburg for generations. In the 18th century, it developed into a trade. From the middle of the 20th century onwards, with the rise of tourism, artisans started to produce souvenirs and fashion accessories in addition to traditional Alpine saddlery products. These more recent products are inspired by the saddlery items, but have new uses. For example the Alpine or Appenzell belt (‘Chüeligurt’ - decorated with small metal cows), which is decorated with ornaments and figures similar to those on the braces worn in the traditional Alpine dairyman costume, has become iconic. The diverse artisanal skills involved in the trade are strongly linked to other traditions of the region; however, their preservation hinges on a steady flow of innovation and further development.

Image gallery

  • Roger Dörig’s tools (Appenzell, 2017) © Margrit Gmünder
  • Brass figures cut out by Thomas Rütsche, and ready for engraving (Ebnat-Kappel, 2017) © Margrit Gmünder
  • Sonja Mock stitching a strap with a bell (Waldstatt, 2017) © Margrit Gmünder
  • Stamped products in bulk for belts, bells and souvenirs (Appenzell, 2017 © Margrit Gmünder
  • Set of three cow bells ‘I.A.K., 1947’ by Johann Baptist Fässler (1893–1969) (Appenzell) © Museum Appenzell
  • Braces with animal decorations by Adalbert Fässler (Appenzell, ca. 1970) © Museum Appenzell
  • Alpine saddler Hampi Fässler in his workshop (Appenzell, ca. 1970) © Emil Grubenmann sen./Museum Appenzell
  • Dog collar (Appenzell, ca. 1960) © Emil Grubenmann sen./Museum Appenzell
  • Tobacco pouch by Adalbert Fässler (Appenzell, 2015) © Museum Appenzell
  • Shoe buckles by Johannes Weishaupt (1869–1939) (Appenzell, ca. 1910) © Museum Appenzell
  • Standard Appenzell belts (Appenzell, 2017) © Roger Dörig
  • Ashtray with a winding rope motif by Hans Fuchs (1915–2001) (Appenzell, end of the 20th century) © Museum Appenzell

References and documentation

  • Bruno Bischofberger: Die Sennensattlerei. In: Volkskunst aus Appenzell und dem Toggenburg: Sammlung Bruno Bischofberger. Zürich, 1973, p. 200-288

  • Appenzeller Volkskunst, Sammlung Bruno Bischofberger. Zürich, 1977, p. 71-82, 110

  • Johann Gottfried Ebel: Schilderung des Gebirgsvolkes vom Kanton Appenzell, erster Teil der Schilderung der Gebirgsvölker der Schweiz, Leipzig, 1789. In: Carl Rusch: Der appenzell-innerrhodische Trachtenschmuck. Appenzell, 1974

  • Franziska Schürch: Landschaft, Senn und Kuh. Die Entdeckung der Appenzeller Volkskunst. Basel, 2008

  • Carl Rusch: Der appenzell-innerrhodische Trachtenschmuck. Appenzell, 1974

  • Sennensattlerei

    Ausführliche Beschreibung Valid from: 29.05.2018
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