Hand Embroidery

Appenzeller hand embroidery evolved from local linen weaving, cotton spinning and chain embroidery.

«D Fraue ond d Saue erhaaltid s Land» («The women and the pigs keep the country going») was a saying during the golden age of Appenzell hand embroidery. The commercial decoration of textiles – initially with coarse and chain stitch embroidery – started around 1800 and by 1914 one-third of the working population of Innerrhoden was employed in the trade. However, the products were not for their own use and were rarely bought by locals. The painstakingly embroidered items were expensive and very famous across the world.

Many Innerrhoder women maintained their families through their embroidery. For a long time hand embroidery was vital for the economy of the canton. Girls learned their first stitches at primary school age and helped to complete orders after school and during the holidays. For hours the embroiderer would sit at the embroidery loom at the window. At twilight, water-filled glass balls illuminated the work. Using an array of satin, lock, figure and hemstitches as well as fine open-work stitching, they created an array of motifs on handkerchiefs, collars, underwear and trousseau linen for many customers – including royalty.

The embroidery business flourished, creating wealth for the new textile traders and suppliers, and later for textile factories that concentrated on the production of handkerchiefs and scarves as the demand for hand embroidery decreased. Home workers then took over the hand-seaming of the products.

The «Abloo» (departure) at teatime is an exciting show. Every few minutes a herd of cattle leaves the showground to the ringing sound of cowbells and exuberant yodeling. In the evening the cattle owners and herdsmen meet up again for the traditional show event in the Hotel Säntis at the Landsgemeindeplatz. The awards for looks and performance are then handed out in a traditional ceremony. The Cattle Show is an important day of the year for cattle breeders and their families.

The Appenzeller Cattle Show has been held since the middle of the 19th century and the Innerrhoden «exclave» Oberegg holds its own show. In contrast to Innerrhoden, the cattle shows in Ausserrhoden take place in the middle of September in the separate villages.

The day after the Appenzeller Cattle Show, further visitors are attracted by the Goat Show, which follows the same pattern and is held at the same venue.