Friday, 30 March 2012

Dress – Origins, Variations, Changes

            Since their Anabaptist beginnings in sixteenth century Europe, Hutterites have practised a modest, simple and uniform dress code. The early traditional style originates from the German and Austrian national costume: black Lederhosen and suspenders for men and boys; the Dirndl, a sleeveless dress with a blouse and an apron for women and girls. Over the years, Hutterites have modified these to make them more serviceable and comfortable. In addition to its value as a cultural tradition, this outward symbol of unity and modesty is an integral part of their faith life, identifying and reminding them who they are as a people, in the spirit of the  Old Testament Jewish tradition described in Numbers 15:40.

            There are three distinct groups of Hutterites: Dariusleut, Lehrerleut and Schmiedenleut, each adhering to its own variations of this dress code. Similarities among the groups include blouses and ankle-length dresses, along with a Tiechl, head kerchief for women; dark trousers and suspenders for men. Both men and women usually wear dark jackets/coats. Children, for the most part wear lighter colours than adults, and in all three groups, young girls wear a head covering known as a Mitz, cap or bonnet.
            Dariusleut: Men’s jackets are collarless and Dariusleut men are more prone to wear a hat. The women’s two-piece dress with elbow-length sleeves is relatively dark, and they wear an apron of the same fabric as the dress. Their Tiechl is black with tiny white dots. Boys wear a black homemade cap, a Katuss.
            Lehrerleut: Men are dressed similar to the Dariusleut. Women’s sleeveless dresses are somewhat lighter with an even lighter, usually plaid apron. The huge polka dots of their stiffly starched Tiechl, makes it appear almost white.

            Schmeidenleut: The major difference between the men of this group and the other two is that they wear many types of mostly dark- coloured casual jackets. Men’s suit jackets are similar to that of any non-Hutterite suit jackets, and in most cases homemade. Women wear either a two-piece or one-piece dress, according to preference. The Tiechl is mostly plain black. In some colonies women wear a sheer black apron to church services, though, most have eliminated it.

            Of importance is that particular dress styles are cultural traditions, and for Hutterites, the goal is modest, simple clothing in uniform style, according to each Leut’s Church ordinances. Dressing differently from mainstream society is as much a part of Hutterianism as living communally – fostering a sense of belonging to a much larger whole – in spirit of the New Testament teaching, that exhorts believers to strive for the “inner beauty” that produces a wealth of good works. 1 Peter 3:1. This is a testimony that not only benefits others, but pleases and honours God.

(I would have loved to add pictures to this posts, but don't have any of Dariusleut and Lehrerleut, so decided not to add my own group, the Schmiedenleut either. Perhaps I will at some point. If you want to see pictures, google Hutterites and click on images. That's the best I can do for now. Sorry.)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

My Elementary 'Masterpiece' - Linda Made it

I'm sure everybody saves some things from their elementary days. However, it's not very often that we find out someone else has carted some of your work around for many years.

Some years ago my sister, Elma and I reconnected with one of my teachers, Mrs. Gertrude Emery. (I know what you're thinking: "She must be old." We won't get into that now.) After resigning from her position at our school, she moved to Riding Mountain, Manitoba, from there to Alberta and then finally back to Portage, in our area. While visiting with her, she told us that she has kept some of her students' work all these years. Then went on to tell us that she'll give the whole box to us and we can give it to her former students. Included in this box was one of my reading workbooks and a drawing. I still chuckle when I look at this clearly Hutterite sketch. The building used to be our kitchen and is now long gone. Not sure who the people are, as they don't look like anyone I know. (-:

The thing that really tickles me is 'Linda made it' right in the centre. I guess I didn't want anyone else to claim my art as their own. And nobody ever told me that artists usally don't have their signatures screaming at the people admiring their work. Oh, perhaps it was meant to be the title of this masterpiece. The scotch tape marks indicate that it was displayed at some point, but for now it's tucked away in a drawer. Maybe one day I will have it framed.

One more thing, my sketching skills haven't improved all that much over the years.

Friday, 23 March 2012

One Year Old - Write On

Yes, blogoversary - a word I learned this year, along with many other blog related things. On March 29, 2011 I published my first post. I had no idea that so many people would find an interest in what I had to say! I’ve had visitors from 69 different countries and many keep coming back! I never hear from most of you; however I’m still grateful that you take time to stop by. It’s great to have you!  You really are making this an enjoyable and fascinating journey.  I also appreciate those of you who comment or email regularly. It’s always a pleasure reading your thoughts, answering your questions and trying fulfilling your requests. Keep them coming!

I'm looking forward to many more e-visits with you. Feel free to bring some friends. If I’d be able to say ‘thank you’ in your language, I would. So, this German 'thank you' will have to do.

And on an entirely different topic, we go on Spring Break today! WooHoo! Well, maybe there is some connection here, as it was during this break last year, that I started my blog. I will be blogging, for sure and work on other writing projects. I may even get some sewing in. All of this, is just a tad tricky right now, as our house is undergoing major renovations, which means major chaos. Reminds me of the game, Fruit Basket Upset, except this would be Whole House Upset. However, it's all good and moving forward, albeit slowly. Soon all this will be behind us and we'll have a house that'll look and smell brand new! Ahhhhh!

Monday, 19 March 2012

German POW Update - mystery photo solved

As you may recall in my last update, I was asking for help to find out where this photo was taken/ who is in it. Thanks to a friend in Winnipeg the mystery is solved. I don't know who was more excited when she called me about this only one day after I posted it. "The picture was taken at your colony!" my friend exclaimed and went on to tell me who some of the children are. The power of a post, eh?

 Interestingly enough, this same photo has been in her family for many years. I haven't been able to find out where they got it from. I've also since learned that my sister has had this photo for a while as well. A friend gave it to her after acquiring it from Canadian Mennonite University Archives.

However, this still leaves me with some questions. This photo came from the album of former POW, Paul Nerger, who settled in Winnipeg after the war and who has since passed away. I have a Curtis (the camp close to my colony) paylist for 1946 and his name is not on it. I do know that this camp existed in 1945 as well, but do not have a paylist from that year. Hopefully one day I will!
Furthermore, and too add even more intrigue, with the picture from CMU my sister also has two others with a group of boys, possibly taken at the same time and one has the date 1947 on it. However, I don't think that there were prisoners doing farm labour at that time. Is the date a mistake?
Keep digging, right?

Who knows, maybe this post will one day find it's way to a Nerger, who will be able to shed more light on this story. By all means, if you know someone with that last name, please pass this on. Thanks!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Heart Art

A bit late, I know... In any case, at school we always try to create some hearty art to celebrate Valentine's Day.  This year the students in Grades 4-8 wove construction paper heart-shaped baskets. Which they then decorated with flowers. These pieces are most often presented to parents at some point, but for now they brighten up one of the bulletin boards at school. Here are a few of these lovely creations:

Have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

German POW Update - mystery photo

This journey has taken some interesting and intriguing paths, for sure! This latest path finds me wondering about this old photo that Robert Henderson (Homefront Museum in Regina) sent me. Imagine my surprise as I was casually leafing through a bunch of photos, and came across this one. It was copied from the album of a German POW, Paul Nerger, who at one point was stationed at a lumber camp near Mafeking, Manitoba. There are no Hutterite colonies in that area, so I'm assuming he also spent some time at a farm labour camp in the vicinity of a colony, as the children in the picture are clearly Hutterite. I believe Paul settled in Winnipeg after the war. So if you know anybody by that last name, please pass this post on to them. Thanks! If this photo seems familiar to you, or you think you know anybody in it, I would love to hear from you! Help me solve the mystery.

(If you missed my other POW updates, click on the label German POW on the sidebar.)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Celebrating Art and Literature

Had a very interesting afternoon and evening a few days ago. My sister and I went to Winnipeg with a group of 7 friends - teachers and students from another colony. Hutterites love to carpool. And, why not? It's enjoyable, economical and yes, green. If you never do, I highly recommend it. Even for long distances. Once 8 of us from 3 different colonies traveled to Alberta and we came to the conclusion that we enjoyed the traveling part as much, if not more, (don't tell the conference planning committee) than the conference we went to. But that's a story for another day.

Anyway, first we went to the Winnipeg Art Gallery to see the Norman Rockwell art show that is on tour right now. Winnipeg is the only Canadian city that will be hosting this show. Pretty cool, eh? Hmmm, I wonder how the Peg was chosen. The WAG offered teachers a free sneak preview, as they wanted to introduce their school programs pertaining to this show. It was a rather quick tour, but it was great to see so many of Rockwell's magnificent art pieces displayed in one place. Lining three walls were many of his newspaper posts and a wide variety of his paintings in a number of rooms. We would have loved to have more time to look at each piece and read the information on it, but no such luck. They want us to come back. I have to say though, they do have some wonderful interactive school programs in place, which would make for an excellent destination for a field trip. There are all day or half day sessions for teachers to choose from.

After our tour we had a quick, but delicious supper at Pizza Hut as there was hardly any time left before we had to go to a book launch at McNally's.

This was the book launch  I posted about a few days ago. I also wrote a review of the book. In case you missed it, click here. Johannes Waldner, the author, did a superb job with reading 'Playing like Timothy' and answering questions! Victor Kleinsasser, the illustrator was also on hand to share his thoughts on this project. Congratulations to both of you! We're so proud to be able to celebrate with you and that we now have another Hutterite book gracing our shelves! Thanks to Johannes' family we were able to end the evening with a tasty snack of homemade buns, cold cuts and dainties!

Should anyone be interested, this beautiful book is available at McNally Robinsons's in Winnipeg, the HB Book Centre and on Amazon. This is an excellent story that any child, any age would be enjoy. We'd be delighted if you'd support Hutterite publishing ventures, by ordering a copy of this or any other Hutterite written book. You can see all of those by clicking on the HB Book Centre link above and enjoy the browse!

Many thanks to the friends I invited and who took time to enjoy this special evening with us. We appreciate your support!!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Hutterites and Hobbies - wooden toys

Hutterites enjoy and excell at a variety of hobbies. These include: painting, crocheting, quilting, scrapbooking, intarsia, photography and many more. To see some of these crafts you can go to Hutterite Heritage, where they are also available to buy.
Today I will feature some pieces from my cousin, Alvin's woodworking collection. I'm always amazed by the detail of every toy and can only imagine how much time and patience each one requires.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

German POW Research - Literature

When I first delved into this research project, I didn't really know where to start looking, didn't know of any books on the subjects, nor anybody who was interested or who had researched this topic. So, I started online and soon found a number of books, articles and websites/blogs on POW. Then I went to our local library and sifted through old newspapers they had stored on microfilm. With the help of one of their volunteers I managed to find quite a few articles of the work camps in our area. Needless to say, these put some wind in my sail.
However, I was most grateful for some interesting and helpful books I found, most by Canadian authors:
  • Park Prisoners - Bill Waiser
  • Behind Canadian Barbed Wire - David Carter
  • Winnipeg 8 The Ice-cold Hothouse - Charles Wilkens (includes Ernst Werdermann's story)
  • The Sawmill Boys POW & Conscientious Objectors - Edward S. Stozek
  • German Prisoners of War in Canada and their Artifacts - C.M.V. Madsen and R.J. Henderson
  • Lasting Impressions - Historical sketches of the Swan River Valley (Includes on chapter on POW)
I was able to get all of these through our local library. In case anybody wants to learn more about this era, these books are a good place to start feeding your interest. I've since learned that there are quite a few others, but I haven't been able to acquire them yet.

If you've missed my other posts regarding this topic, you can click on German POW in the labels. And if you know anything about this, I'd love to hear from you. You can either leave a comment or email me, using 'contact me' in the sidebars. I've received quite a few interesting emails/comments since my first post. Thanks!

I'll leave you with another picture of a wood carving, with thanks to Edward Stozek.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Reader's Request

One of my readers recently left this request:

"Maybe I haven’t dug deep enough into the history of this blog, but could you write a post about the dressing styles of Hutterites today and compared to what it might have been in the past? I think it would be interesting to read about how people dress in relation to, and in application of their beliefs. Keep up the wonderful work."
Thanks Shom, for the kind words and for being a regular visitor! It's always great to read your comments! I will be writing about that in the near future, possibly for this blog but definately for a brand new Hutterite website which will be launched soon. I will post about this later with a link to this new site. Stay tuned! In the mean time, you could also visit Hutterite Heritage and read what they have to say on this topic...

...and listen to a Hutterite choir.