Traditions that live on and the associated handicrafts are still deeply rooted in the hearts of the people of Zillertal. In other places, cultural heritage is something that is only found in museums – not so in Zillertal where traditional handicrafts are still very much a part of everyday life.
The nativity crib as an expression of popular revolution
What would Christmas in Zillertal be without its many nativities and the typical nativity figures? Simply inconceivable! As such, locals have decorated the chapels, churches and their homes with the miniature nativity scenes for generations.
The Museum in der Widumspfiste in Fügen houses many treasures from Zillertal’s past. Among other things, four cribs can be seen here all year round.
Alois Stöckl is a very special wood sculptor from Laimach. He has carved life-size crib figures that are displayed on the village square in Hippach every year from 24 December until Candlemass (2 February 2020).
The renowned Zillertal sculptor Leonhard Tipotsch is carving a magnificent spherical crib in his home in Lanersbach. On Mondays and Fridays, he allows people to watch as he works.
The Doggl is a traditional type of Zillertal footwear. The natural product made from wool has proven its worth over several centuries – not just in warm homes but also outdoors and even for tobogganing. The milled, loden shoe is weatherproof and available in a special outdoor version with a rubber sole. Even today, Doggls are completely cut by hand and remain an original traditional product from Zillertal.
Doggls can be purchased from Günther Hartl in Stumm, Geislschuster in Hippach or even Trachten "Leben mit Tradition"; in Tux, among other places."
Carvings for all eternity
Deer antlers turn into beautiful little pieces of art. In the past, lumberjacks earned extra money after a hard day‘s work in the forest by carving edelweiss flowers. For Rauch, this delicate craft is a hobby, too – but one with very special meaning: for him, carving represents a wonderful combination of tradition and a love of nature. In order to carve a copy of an edelweiss flower – a rare composite flower in the Alps these days – the carver only uses the white, inner part of the deer antlers. The “burr” – the lower part of the antlers – is used to produce belt buckles, glass decorations and key chains.
Beautiful little pieces of art are available here:
Zillertal folk costume
In other areas of the Alps, every village has its own folk costume. Not in Zillertal. Here, everyone in the valley wears the same “uniform”. The main part of the Zillertal folk costume is the famous “Zillertaler Tuxer” or woollen jacket. Original Zillertaler Tuxer are made from grey loden wool and have black velvet embroidery and a woollen border, green piping and, as a special feature, a light-blue lining made from mattress cover material.
Zillertaler folk costumes are available here:
Organ building in Zillertal is a traditional activity that dates back several centuries. One of the best known masters of this art was Karl Mauracher. It was he who brought the Christmas carol “Silent Night” to Fügen 200 years ago.
Today, Christian Erler is the last freelance organ builder in the valley. Every single organ is unique, with its own individual plans and designs, which are not only tailored to the spatial conditions but also adhere to the highest standards in terms of precision, material quality and elegant, handmade workmanship.
Full information about organ building can be found HERE.
The people of the Alps love their lederhosen and cummerbunds. The classic garments are particularly worn during festivals and celebrations – and anyone who looks closely will spot the hidden artwork. In Austria, there are still four or five handicraft businesses which specialise in quill embroidery, one of which is owned by Alexander Stiegler and located in Stumm in Zillertal.
Genuine peacock feathers combined with perfect manual workmanship decorate the Zillertal folk costumes to give them their special individual character. But the technique can also be used to adorn braces, belts, shoes, bags and even the bell laces of the alpine cows.
The cummerbunds are traditionally worn by musicians, guards and, previously, especially by farmers. The original versions were covered in tin studs and protected their wearers against sword blows. Yet even today, few people in Zillertal go without their cummerbund when at major events such as the Gauder Fest (Gauder festival), weddings, anniversaries and burials.