Radical Fashion from the Schembart Carnival (1590)

Illustrations from a 16th century manuscript detailing the phenomenon of Nuremberg’s Schembart Carnival, (literally “bearded-mask” carnival). Beginning in 1449, the event was popular throughout the 15th century but was ended in 1539 due to the complaints of an influential preacher named Osiander who objected to his effigy being paraded on a float, depicting him playing backgammon surrounded by fools and devils. According to legend, the carnival had its roots in a dance (a “Zämertanz”) which the butchers of Nuremberg were given permission to hold by the Emperor as a reward for their loyalty amid a trade guild rebellion. Over the years the event took on a more subversive tone, evolving to let others take part with elaborate costumes displayed and large ships on runners, known as “Hells”, which were paraded through the streets. After its end, many richly illustrated manuscripts (known as “Schembartbücher”) were made detailing the carnival’s 90 year existence.

We are unsure what the flaming “artichokes” are all about, if any one has a clue do let us know in the comments!
*UPDATE* solved – according to Christies: “They brandished lances and bunches of leaves – known as Lebensrute — that concealed fireworks.”

UCLA Digital Library
Underlying Work: PD Worldwide | Digital Copy: No Additional Rights
Download: Right click on image or see source for higher res versions
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  • http://msdowantiques.com Marianne Dow

    The runners protected the guild members in the parades. They brandished lances and bunches of leaves – known as Lebensrute (life rods) — that concealed fireworks. — Source: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/books-manuscripts/nuremberg-1449-1539-schembart-book-in-german-5214140-details.aspx

    • http://okblogfarm.org/members/adam/ Adam Green

      Brilliant thank you so much!

  • http://secretgardening.wordpress.com/ Cassandra Silver

    Sparked something in my dim mind. I searched through the images I’d saved of studies of local dress Durer had made during his travels, but the deliciously outlandish one that had made the most forceful impression was “Three Mighty Ladies of Livonia”, while the ladies of Nuremberg looked more humble. Then, after hours of trying to follow my own jumbled cross-referencing, and then getting lost in accounts of the Livonian Wars online, I came across an article I’d saved; I really hope you will read it: http://www.cerisepress.com/01/03/the-nuremberg-schembartlauf-and-the-art-of-albrecht-durer/view-all Any mention of Durer will catch my eye, but I think I was actually pursuing the flicker of a Green Man Festival in Wiltshire that I’d caught a glimpse of somehow –wonderful pagan forest people. The rapture of convergences—–

  • http://www.hmml.org Matthew Heintzelman

    Several years ago I gave conference paper on costuming in the 15th and 16th centuries. Much of my visual presentation was on a manuscript of the Schembartlauf from the Abbey of Goettweig in Austria. Several images are available in our image database, Vivarium. Cut and paste the following into your browser:

    http://cdm.csbsju.edu/cdm/search/collection/HMMLClrMicr/searchterm/3664/field/all/mode/all/conn/and Or go to http://www.hmml.org/vivarium and search for Schempartlauffen (or simply schem*). The whole manuscript should be available for browsing. The images are from color microfilm, so the resolution is not quite that of digital photographs. Matt Heintzelman/Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (“HMML”)