Alpine processions in Appenzell and Toggenburg

Around Mount Säntis, the traditional cattle drives up to and down from the alpine pastures follow a defined choreography. The procession is led by Appenzell goats along with boys and girls in traditional dress. These are followed by a herdsman in full traditional dress complete with yellow breeches and a milking pail on his shoulder. Next in line are three cows wearing large dairy bells, three cattle drivers in traditional Sunday clothes with brown trousers, and another herdsman, also in full traditional dress. They are followed by the herds of cows and the owners of the animals, usually accompanied by the Appenzell cattle dog, known as the "Bläss". A cart laden with wooden crockery brings up the rear.

The heavy bells worn by the lead cows are a particular feature of the procession. They ring in harmony with each other and provide a drone accompaniment to the slow wordless yodelling ("Zauren") which is an integral part of the event. They are also the centre of attention during "Schellenschötten", when they are rung by the herdsmen, with small rhythmical movements. In Toggenburg the procession up the mountain is followed by a celebration on Alp Sellamatt, while in Appenzellerland there are three events during the alpine summer: "Alpstobete", "Jakobifeier" and the Herdsmens' Ball. The season is brought to a close with cattle shows.

Detailed description


Oral expressions




Hans Büchler: Der Alpstein. Natur und Kultur im Säntisgebiet. Herisau, 2000

Hans Eugster-Kündig: Schweizerischer Alpkataster. Die Alpen im Kanton Appenzell Ausserrhoden. Herisau, 1993

Pater Ferdinand Fuchs: Bauernarbeit in Appenzell Innerrhoden. Ed. Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Volkskunde. Basel 1977

Mäddel Fuchs: Appenzeller Viehschauen. St.Gallen 1998

Hans Hürlemann: Brauchtum im Appenzellerland. Herisau, 1996

Josef Inauen (Ed.): Innerrhoder Alpkataster. Die Alpwirtschaft in Appenzell Innerrhoden (Innerrhoder Schriften 12). Appenzell, 2004

Hans Hürlemann: Urnäsch. Landschaft – Brauchtum – Geschichte. Herisau, 2006

Josef Inauen: Innerrhoder Heimweiden. Mit einem Rückblick auf frühere Bewirtschaftungs- und Lebensformen (Innerrhoder Schriften 13). Appenzell, 2007




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