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Details

Narhalla is the name of the Mainzer Carnevalsverein’s journal that was published every week of carnival season from about the beginning of the year. It was first established in 1841 by Dr Franz Weißt and printed by Johann Wirth and ran until its ban in 1848. Carnival in Mainz, also called Mainzer Karneval, only emerged in 1838, 15 years after the customary practice was reformed into an associational and communicative practice involving Cologne’s old and new elites, i.e. mayors, merchants, professors, doctors, lawyers. Mainz is situated further south down the River Rhine and fell under administration of the Dukedom of Hesse-Darmstadt, unrelated to the Kingdom of Prussia. Mainz’ revolutionary past was also widely different to that of Cologne. In the March 1793 Mainz propagated itself a republic. This short republican and French occupation was ended by Prussian armies besieging Mainz in July 1793.

Associational carnival maintained its broad structure established by the Cologne bourgeois, but incorporated traits unique to the people and location of Mainz. Carnival in Mainz is until now generally referred to as literary-political carnival in contrast to Cologne’s exhilarating version. The carnival journal Narhalla shaped the literary-political theme of carnival. Compared to earlier carnival journals in the 1820s, it was much more tailored towards critique of the lacking freedom of press by pointedly ridiculing the censoring of parts of its issues (see page two of issue 2 ‘Warnung! An dieser verdächtigen Stelle ist ein unvorsichtiger Witz umgebracht worden’ (Warning! In this spot a careless joke has been killed.’). The literary spectrum covered prose, poetry, verses, caricatures, advertisements, announcements and essays enriched by a variety of illustrations that provide valuable political as well as societal commentary in times of censorship and small avenue for artistic, critical expression. Significant is the presence of Francophile writing including admiration for French literature and the French language, alluding to a tension between administration and the populace.

Issue 2 of 1848, for example, had illustrations portraying married life through affectionate dealings or even lewd commentary. The depiction of women in Narhalla is significant compared to Cologne’s or other carnival journals. Mainz, namely, allowed women to partake in the carnival celebrations be it through writing or in associational events, while Cologne’s carnival until this day remains a male dominated endeavour. Class or police conflict were also depicted in commentary on dress and noise. Diamond or chequered patterns of dress allude to fools’ dress, as well as headgear like the fool’s hat or antlers.

Eight issues were published in 1848. The last was published after the successful barricade fights in Berlin and the establishment of a free press, which was thoroughly celebrated in essays, mock obituaries and caricatures (not all pages of this issue are depicted here).

Unique for the 1848 was the cover, especially the title made out of miniature figures (men and women) in carnival costumes forming the letters of Narhalla. This humanesque and carnivalesque depiction suggests a sense of community, an association of individuals, forming a whole, as if carnival is an organic whole formed by individual members’ participation. Such an illustration may allude to the growing sense of German nationalism or rather a form of German identity that was shaped by associational carnival leading up to the 1848 revolution. The depiction of different characters forming the Narhalla also relates to Ludwig I, King of Bavaria’s cultural monument called Walhalla, were marble heads of important German-speaking personalities throughout history were exhibited. Narhalla in this case could on the refer to the institution, the space for carnival events and balls bringing together fools and celebrating their foolishness – a reversal of reality.

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Items Referencing this Item

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#142Leipziger Illustrierte Zeitung 1844 - 'Kölnischer Carneval'Details
The Illustrierte Zeitung was a newspaper published in Leipzig. An issue in 1844 focussed on Cologne’s carnival and provided historical background as well as a report on its masquerade processions. It’s cover page bears the title Kölnischer Karneval formed out of soldiers in various states of drunkenness or foolery. These soldiers were part of the Rote Funken, the carnival military of Cologne so to say. The Rote Funken took their name, dress and behaviour from the imperial militia of Cologne before French occupation in the 1790s. It is said, that Cologne was surrendered to the French without the militia putting up a fight, because they were too drunk respectively incapable to organise their city’s defence. Denounced as most incapable soldiers in German-speaking states, they provided a great historical identity and connection for Cologne’s carnival, bridging the old medieval imperial past with the new romantic bourgeois associational carnival. The humanised lettering can also be found in the 1848 Narhalla, Mainz’ carnival journal.

By 1844, Franz Raveaux, future parliamentarian in the Frankfurt Assembly of 1848, split from the Große Kölner Karnevalsgesellschaft to found his own association, the Allgemeine Karnevalsgesellschaft. Disputes about content, organisation and participation were ongoing since about 1827, where the first oppositional carnival’s newspaper criticised the elitist speeches, content and demeanour of the carnival committee. Raveaux aimed to change this as he saw great political, especially democratic, potential in the yearly assemblies, committees, presidentships, masquerades, speeches and celebrations. More specifically, Raveaux aimed to bridge the old upper classes holding power in Cologne alongside the upcoming middle classes of merchants, lawyers and doctors with the smaller merchants and especially artisans that had gained reputation and capital. His vision was a more egalitarian and political one compared to the romantic and elitist one the older carnival association held.

The visually stunning issue provides a view on Cologne’s carnival from a Northern German perspective and does not fall short in appealing to its readers to open up more and follow the Southern German wit and humour that seems to be overall lacking. Significant is the depiction of the president of, presumably, the older carnival association sporting a hat that bears resemblance to a spiked helmet (Pickelhaube). The Pickelhaube was introduced to the Prussian military in 1842. Depicting the inflexible, elitist carnival association’s president wearing such head gear highlights the political affiliation of the Leipziger Illustrierte Zeitung as well as Franz Raveaux’ journalistic, business or even political connections across Germany.

Women are only depicted as Colonia or as part of a masquerade set. The illustrations highlight how Colonia, the female incarnation of the city of Cologne, has nurtured Hanswurts, or the Schalknarr, into maturity. This is echoed in the accompanying text, stating that Raveaux’ association has established Hanswurst maturity (‘Mündigkeit’ p.3) – referring to his coming of age and thus political say.

This newspaper highlights the growing politicisation of carnival in Cologne and its reception ‘aborad’ in the Kingdom of Saxony, to which Leipzig belonged, and elsewhere.