Rebellious Carnival Costumes

June 4th, 2013 10:00 am

The very cool website Public Domain Review published these illustrations from a 16th century manuscript detailing the phenomenon of Nuremberg’s Schembart Carnival. Literally translated as “bearded-mask” carnival, the event was popular from 1449 to 1539. It ended because of the complaints of the influential preacher Osiander, who was offended by parodies of him included in the parades.

**BTW: those are not artichokes being carried by revelers. They are bunches of leaves – called Lebensrute—that hid fireworks.

Legend has it that the carnival had its roots in a dance (a “Zämertanz”), which the butchers of Nuremberg were permitted to hold by the Emperor as a reward for their loyalty to him during an earlier trade guild rebellion. Over the years the event grew more subversive in nature, with participants wearing elaborate costumes and riding through the streets on floats called “Hells”.  After the carnival’s end, many lovely illustrated manuscripts known as “Schembartbücher” were created to document the ceremony’s 90-year existence.

To see more illustrations, visit the Public Domain Review.

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© Anne Kroul, 2013.