Thanks a lot for the contribution of this interesting story and the great pictures by photographer and author BAUQUELDIE.
A short advertisement in our daily newspaper about an exhibition of cat figures in Abstatt had aroused my interest recently. And so I drove to the mentioned palce on a nice Sunday afternoon to see the much-praised cats, which were called and described as „Rällinge“.
Abstatt is a municipality in the district of Heilbronn, in Germany. And “Rälling”, that’s the mockery name for the habitants of Abstatt. In language usage, a “Rälling” is an strolling cat on bridal show. But what does this naming for going on a bridal show have to do with not? And how did the people from Abstatt actually come to such a name?
On the basis of an oral tradition, the naming is said to have been presented in this way: In the past, the young Abstatt boys liked to walk on bridal show to the neighboring villages and would have advertised the beautiful femininities there. In order to make themselves known, they stood under their windows and mumbled like a cat. Subsequently, the Abstatt boys were given the nickname “Rällinge”.
In many places in the community you can meet a whole bunch of the illustrious companions – rolly but hand-toothed cats. The Rälling was given a special and quite similar plastic shape, only the paintings are different. Anyone who was interested could acquire a figure for their own creative paintings. Many are designed by artists and each Rälling is unique in its way. And almost every sculpture got a name. Of the 40 figures on display, 39 are baptized by their sponsors in some funny ways. Many of them have as well a connection in their name to their sponsor.
Someone who is proud of the hustle and bustle surrounding his works of art is graphic artist Horst Schwarz, creator of the Rällinge and artistic local hero. As a member of the Heilbronn Artists’ Association, he originally designed his creation as an emblem for the street festival in town. A small risk to make the Rälling the symbol of Abstatt. Now everyone loves the cats. Even if the figures are not intended as climbing objects and could be damaged as a result, a child psychologist once said to Mr Schwarz: “When the children step on it, it shows that they accept the figures”.
In order to pay due tribute to these works of art, each created cat has been given a place in the Bürgerpark or in its immediate vicinity. These cats look just funny and cheeky at us visitors. Unfortunately, over time the weather has already hit them badly and they might need a new paint. Most name boards are also no longer legible and should be replaced.
You can find a particularly large number of cats in the Bürgerpark in Abstatt – a wonderful park-like area for young and old, constructed in 2008 with playgrounds, sports facilities, open-air stage, event buildings and many colourful flowers. And with a nice café, where I finished the afternoon with coffee and cake, pleasantly impressed. – BAUQUELDIE – November 2020
Photographer & Author: BAUQUELDIE