Traditional Costumes

Classic Costumes of Basel Fasnacht

Zug Costumes, Fantasy Costumes, and Classical Costumes

Next to the ‘ZugkostümeInfoZugkostümeCostumes that refer to the theme presented during the official procession on Monday and Wednesday afternoon.’ and the self made fantast costumes you can find Basler Fasnacht classical costumes. These costumes are particularly enjoyed and worn by those who are able to choose their own costumes.


Over time these classical figures have developed both in response to the sociopolitical changes occurring in Europe, but also to the change in Theater and carnivals. It is made more difficult taking these factors into consideration, to pinpoint and trace the development of the costumes from their creation to the present day, as there is still much to be discovered.

The changes in costume design:

The look and development of the classical costumes was informed and mirrored by the changes taking place within society. After the Second World War with the rise of wages and improvement in living conditions the costumes became more elegant, the fabric’s being used were more ‘noble and regal’. The way a costume was adorned of course depended on the financial means of those who were making them. Nowadays the creation of a costume and its elegance or lack thereof depends on the maker; however, costumes tend to be simpler.

Here are descriptions of six of the traditional figures/costumes

Alti Dante (Old Aunt/maid)

Lady of the Upper-class

The character of the Old Aunt can be traced back to caricatures of older upper-class women who resided in Basel. The figure came to prominence in Fasnacht at the end of the 19th century and by the beginning of the 20th century had become a beloved fixture in the procession. The clothing and accessories that accompany the portrayal of this figure come in part from the Biedermeier time period.
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Sewn together with bits of cloth

This costume is a popular, traditional costume which comes in numerous variations. It is very possible that the Bajass (bufoon) was inspired by an Italian comedic figure.
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Service figure derived from the Commedia dell’arte

The figure of the Harlequin is derived from the Commedia dell’arte. The costume itself is taken from the Arlecchino. In its beginnings the costume was very simple: it was composed of a wide white blouse and white long pants. Over time the design has been modified. The blouse and pants have become narrower and with the input of more fantasy designs, the costume has become more colorful.
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Ideal in the early 1900s

The Pierrot of Basel Fasnacht would have felt most at home in the early 1900s. The Pantomime Jean-Gaspard Deburau created the figure/character in Paris. With this figure we see that he wore a black cap which in the Basel Fasnacht is mostly made out of felt. The character itself has an almost melancholy presence.
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Middle-ages court jester

The figure of Ueli takes its look from the middle-ages court jester. The look of the costume mirrors the outfit of a court jester very closely.
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Caricature of an Alsatian farmer

The roots of this figure can be traced back to Alsation farmers from the 1900s. Back then the farmers were seen as vagabonds. The expression ‘Waggis’ might well have come from the word ‘vagabond’.
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