Admittedly, I don’t really have much to do with dirndls and traditional costumes. But when I heard that Eben im Pongau was going to have its own local costume for the first time, “tailor-made” to fit the village and its people, I became curious. How do you combine fabrics and materials of a traditional costume so that it represents a community? I was allowed to ask these and many other questions of Ebener Cäzilia Althuber, master seamstress and creator of the “Ebener Gwandl”.
So, I promptly headed straight to the creator’s workshop. Cäzilia, in a dirndl, leads me through the garden into the lovingly decorated garden house where she likes to collect ideas and work out concepts. “Here I can enjoy my peace and quiet,” she says. The interior of the little house is reminiscent of a cosy, traditional farmhouse parlour, and on the table there are already some traditional costume folders and books from all over Austria, as well as a folder with the designs for the “Ebener Gwandl”. I am already curious. It was a long and well-kept secret what the costume would look like – the presentation of the costume was planned for 19th November as part of the Eben Festival Weeks, which was unfortunately postponed until next spring due to Covid-19. But due to the pandemic work on the Eben costume “got serious” in the first place. “We were so looking forward to last winter and then the season didn’t happen” – the holiday apartment house belonging to the Althuber family remained empty and suddenly there was a lot of time. “Like a shooting star” the idea of creating a local costume for Eben was born – a thought that had been dormant in Cäzilia for more than 25 years and had never left her. At that time, she was not ready to take on this challenge – but now the time was ripe for the “Ebener Gwandl”.
From the idea to the local costume
“The local costume should be able to tell you something about the municipality like a map of the village,” the woman from Eben explains. She got behind the table immediately and went through Eben’s local chronicle; the history, geographical events, cadastral communities, the local coat of arms – everything should flow into the costume. From the sketches, first a painted picture was created by an artist and then, together with two other seamstresses, Cäzilia finally put together a workday costume in the original cut, made exclusively from regionally sourced natural materials. That’s exciting, I thought – but what exactly will the whole thing look like now?
The “dirndl dress” local plan
Her eyes shining bright, she shows me – finally – her designs of the dirndl and lets me in on the secrets of the new local costume: Since Eben is surrounded by forests, green became the main colour of the costume. The green also refers to the former place name Taxen, an old name for fir tree. The “Taxzapfen” (cones) can therefore also be seen on the exclusively made buttons. The protected landscape part “Eben Moor” finds its place on the smock through a special printing process, the mystical-looking shadow print.
The coat plate (the lowest part of the smock), which is rather wide at 13 cm, is in solid green and represents the striking cut of the railway and thus the connection to Niedernfritz. For the apron, Cäzilia was inspired by the red and white Eben coat of arms, which refers to the Enn-Salzach watershed in Eben. Between the smock and the bottom seam runs a 3 cm wide red trim, symbolising the Roman road. “Last but not least, an intertwined flower at the back of the coat of arms symbolises the unity of the three cadastral communities of Eben, Gasthof and Schattbach.
Phew.. I was surprised at how much history and great ideas are contained in this dirndl dress. And because every “pretty girl” also needs a “handsome boy”, a master tailor has also designed a matching waistcoat for the gentlemen with all the attributes of the dirndl dresss. The traditional costume will also be available for children. “The traditional costume should reach all generations,” says Cäzilia, who somehow manages to think of everything.
Traditional customs to wear
Local costume clearly plays a major role in Cäzilia’s life – but where does this passion come from? “I associate local costumes above all with traditions and home life. Even as a child, I experienced the importance my mother attached to the overskirt, for example. It was THE garment that was only worn on special days. We children were not allowed to touch it. It was a special treasure, the unhooking and ironing of the dress and my mother doing her hair was real rituals back then,” the native of Reitdorf reminisces. In addition to her profession as a master tailor, Cäzilia is also involved in several local and traditional costume associations in the province of Salzburg and is the chairwoman and founder of the Eben Women in Traditional Costume – and is now also the proud creator of the first Eben local costume, the “Ebener Gwandl”.
photo credits: Cäzilia Althuber, TVB Eben Angelika Pfuner