Girls learn needlework – boys work in the fields.
After primary school, girls were expected to learn needlework and how to produce and process textiles – spinning, weaving, and breaking flax.
The commendation issued to Elisabeth Wiesenmeier illustrates this very nicely: “with an exhortation that she persist in her diligence and pious dutifulness.”
Setting up a new household required table linen, bed linen and a complete wardrobe. The bride brought all this with her into the marriage – as proof of her abilities and her skill.
The trousseau trunk is in two parts, so it would be easier to carry to safety in case of fire. A woman with a sense of pride would have two rows of linen in her trunk, one behind the other. Anyone with just a single row was considered a bad match.
On the other hand, something that’s virtually unknown today is the little verse embroidered on the decorative edging. It translates as:
“Nobody can blame you for wanting riches,
but you have to start with the linen!”
All depictions: © Stadt- und Fachwerkmuseum Eppingen