F: That sculpture on top of the town hall fountain is quite chilling, isn’t it? On one side, a horse and rider are in full flight. The other side has a man struggling to emerge from a wall. He seems fearful. His face is contorted in pain as he throws up his arms.
M: This work of art is by the sculptor Hermann Koziol, and it’s called the Steidemer Männle (Männle means little man). The Steidemer Männle, also known as the "Halbes Männle", the bisected man, is Niederstetten’s emblem. This is its story.
F: In the hamlet of Wildentierbach, which is about six kilometres or four miles from Niederstetten, there once lived a farmer and his beautiful daughter. It so happened that a farmhand fell in love with the daughter. But the farmer refused to accept the labourer as a suitor for the girl’s hand. The pair came to blows, and the farmhand killed the farmer. At that point, he had no other choice but to leap on to a horse and head out of the village at a gallop.
He fled towards Niederstetten, which was a free town. If he’d reached his destination, he would have been safe. Howeverat the head of his pursuers rode the blacksmith.
At the very moment when the farmhand was about to leap across the boundary, the blacksmith sliced him in two. So only the farmhand’s upper body reached the free territory of Niederstetten.
M: Sounds brutal, but then again, it’s only a legend. There’s another Steidemer Männle on the bell tower of the Protestant parish church of Saint James, though that’s much less disturbing than this one...
F: But why is it called “Steidemer” Männle?
M: “Steide” is what Niederstetten is called in Hohenlohisch, the local dialect. The original name was “Stetten”, but that changed to “Steide” over time.
F: If that’s made you want to know more, the church of St. James is just a short walk across the market square! But first, we have another brilliant story for you. This one involves animals.
Fotos: © Trüpschuch