Pomeranian fisherman rugs

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Fisherman's rug with Freester sea holly and four anchors
Fisherman's carpet with fish and a four-anchor
Jubilee carpet with seagulls and Lassan coat of arms
Loom chair with fisherman's rug from Freest (1955). Exhibition in the Museum of European Cultures in Berlin

Pomeranian Fischer rugs are hand-knotted, sheep's wool rugs with maritime motifs from the East Pomeranian region . The Pomeranian fisherman's carpets were initially designed and knotted by fishermen as a part-time job. Due to their original place of origin, the fishing village of Freest am Peenestrom , they were marketed as Freester fishing carpets in GDR times , although they were sold in the surrounding villages of Lubmin , Spandowerhagen , Kröslin and in the towns of Greifswald , Wolgast , Lassan andUsedom were linked and partly still will be.


Weimar Republic

In 1928, a three-year fishing ban was imposed in the southern Baltic Sea to allow depleted fish stocks to recover. In order to save the fishermen from the threat of unemployment and poverty, the Greifswald District Administrator Werner Kogge came up with the idea of ​​having the fishermen weave carpets . He was guided by the idea that the fishermen had the necessary skills to do this by knotting and mending their fishing nets and pots . The Austrian textile specialist Rudolf Stundl responded to a national newspaper advertisement in which an experienced instructor for future carpet weavers was being sought . His appointment as the representative for founding a carpet weaving workshop in Western Pomerania proved to be a real stroke of luck. Rudolf Stundl was trained in the manual use of weaving and knotting techniques and had already gained experience in restoring oriental carpets in Zagreb in 1922. He developed special looms that found space in the low fishermen's cottages and had them made according to his plans by carpenters from the region. Since carpet production was to be carried out at home, the Pomeranian Fischer carpet home weaving workshop based in Greifswald was founded as a common umbrella for all carpet weavers. Rudolf Stundl took over the training and supervision of initially 52 carpet weavers (40 in Freest and twelve in Lubmin). In 1930 there were already 58 (42 in Freest, twelve in Lubmin and four in Spandowerhagen). Stundl designed the carpet motifs and also made the necessary contacts for the sale of the first finished fisherman's carpets. Large individual orders were soon landed.

National Socialism

During the National Socialist era , Pomeranian folk art was appropriated as an allegedly ancient Nordic tradition. Soon Nazi greats such as Alfred Rosenberg , Hermann Göring and allegedly even Adolf Hitler were among the owners of Fischer rugs. In addition, "many Reich ministers and high state officials, the largest German shipping lines, museums, district administrations, air bases, professors and many other art-savvy people" were in possession of fishing rugs. Motifs such as the four fish and others in the shape of a sun wheel were now part of the basic range that was in demand. Nevertheless, carpet production came to a standstill in the 1940s due to war-related cutbacks and disagreements with Stundl, who had even been imprisoned for a while.

1945 to 1990

Only after the war did handicrafts resume. The first evidence of this is an ornamental carpet from 1946, which belongs to the inventory of the University of Greifswald and shows the year.

Another testament to the new beginning after the war is the Kröslin altar carpet from 1947. For cost reasons, the wool for the carpet was dyed with natural colors that we collected and produced ourselves. The entire cost was borne by the community from donations. The altar carpet depicts Jesus on the cross, with eight people standing at his feet, whose emotions range from rejection to indifference to adoration. The three fish shines above the head of Christ, a symbol both for the carpet weavers and for the triune God. The altar carpet hangs today as it did then in the Christophorus Church in Kröslin.

The PGH "Volkskunst an der Ostsee" was founded on May 17, 1953 as one of the first craft production cooperatives (PGH) in the GDR and gradually expanded to other locations such as Wolgast (1961), Lassan (1962), Heringsdorf and Zinnowitz in the following years Usedom (1964) extended. What was special about this PGH was that most of the employees worked from home. Until the end of the 1980s, the workshop, the dye works and the warehouse of the carpet cooperative were located in the farming town of Lassan. A total of around 20 women were employed there. Large commissioned works were often jubilee carpets, such as in 1956 for the 500th anniversary of the University of Greifswald, in 1974 for the 700th anniversary of Lassan or in 1987 for the 750th anniversary of Berlin . Clients were often official and semi-official bodies. Walter Ulbricht and Erich Honecker owned Fischer rugs. Carpets with the coat of arms of the GDR , hammer and compass in a wreath of corn , or commissioned works for the Ministry for State Security , for example for the “Feliks Dzierzynski” guard regiment , are also documented.

After 1990

With the upheavals of the German reunification and the subsequent great economic uncertainty, PGH Ostseekunst came to an end on May 15, 1992 . Attempts by the former mayor of Freest, Reinhard Bernau, who acquired the PGH bankruptcy estate and founded his own company in 1993, to find a connection to the market economy, came to nothing. Fisher carpets are currently being produced as a funded measure on the Mölschow estate on Usedom and occasionally on private initiative, for example in Lubmin and Spandowerhagen.


The folk art of the fisherman's carpets did not arise out of nowhere without any connection or history. Both the type of material (sheep's wool ) and the knotting technique were adopted from oriental carpet art for the Pomeranian fisherman's carpets . The symmetrical knot is the main type of knot , but the asymmetrical knot is also used. The Austrian Rudolf Stundl quickly realized that it would make little sense to let the fishermen weave the same ornaments that adorn and make up the oriental carpets. On the one hand, the oriental ornamentation in Western Pomerania would have represented a culturally foreign influence, on the other hand, the unique selling point would have been missing with its adoption. For this reason, the trained carpet weaver Stundl designed his own ornaments, which he borrowed from the habitat of the fishermen.


The motif canon of the Pomeranian fisherman's carpets includes a wealth of maritime ornaments and is mainly fed by the direct living environment of the fishermen and carpet weavers. The classic and frequently used motifs include waves , seagulls , swans , cormorants , anchors (often as a double anchor in the border and as a four-anchor in the middle), cogs , sea holly (Lubminer or Freester sea holly) and of course fish in the most varied and original combinations: stone - or flatfish; Two-fish, three-fish, four-fish or as an eight-fish rosette. There are also forest motifs such as deer , stag beetles , squirrel cats , oak leaves and the Pomeranian heraldic animal, the griffin . But there are also carpets with a tree of life and ideas of paradise .


The typical color of the fisherman's carpets can be described as harsh and results from the colors of the Western Pomeranian coastal landscape. The basic tone of the carpets is warm and earthy to emphasize the home connection. Correspondence from real life was assigned to the color values ​​used, as this makes it easier for the carpet weavers to identify with their home product, which represents a form of Nordic folk art. However, this type of color theory is due to the time of origin and does not represent a final definition, but rather a traditional consensus. Recently, experiments have also been carried out with brighter color values ​​such as silver and orange in order to achieve new and modern visual results. The traditional translation of the colors looks like this:

  • Light blue: sky
  • Dark blue: sea
  • Green: coastal forests
  • Brown: wood of the ships
  • Red ( oxblood ): sails of the Zeesenboote
  • Grey: rainy sky & cormorants
  • White: gulls & swans
  • Ochre: beach sand
  • Fawn: Wild


Rudolf Stundl relied on robust quality when it came to the quality of the Fischer rugs. It is often advertised with the assertion that fisherman's carpets only become really beautiful when a regiment of soldiers has marched over them - an assertion that is not supported by any recorded event. The Freester carpet weaver song says in a less martial and life-affirming way: "We weave and weave a carpet for life." A carpet area of ​​10 × 10 cm has 24 knots in 24 rows, that is 580 knots (24 × 24 = 576). Extrapolated to one square meter, this results in the hard-to-imagine figure of around 58,000 knots. An experienced carpet weaver needs about 160 hours and 2500 grams of wool for this. For this reason too, Fischer rugs are often referred to as “Persians from the Baltic Sea”.


  • Thanksgiving carpet : One of the earliest works is the so-called thanksgiving carpet from 1929, which the first fishermen who knotted presented it to District Administrator Werner Kogge. District Administrator Kogge had the idea of ​​winning fishermen over to knotting carpets. In addition to the 34 names of the carpet weavers involved, the carpet of thanks contains the greeting: DIE FREESTER FISCHER HERRN COUNTRY COGGE.
  • Paradise Carpet : This work from 1929 shows Adam and Eve at the tree of knowledge, in the crown of which is the eye of God. The carpet comes from the estate of the actress Ursula Schoene-Markus and is now part of the collection of the University of Greifswald. This is probably the oldest surviving fisherman's carpet.
  • Hunting carpet : In 1935, the province of Pomerania made a hunting carpet a gift to the Reichsjägermeister Hermann Göring . This commissioned work was created based on a child's design from Lubmin and is now privately owned.
  • Altar carpet : The Kröslin altar carpet from 1947 is unique. It was knotted in the austere post-war period from sheep's wool dyed with natural colors. It can be viewed in the Christophorus Church in Kröslin. The Johanneskirche in Wusterhusen and the Petrikirche in Lubmin also have a fisherman's carpet in their furnishings.
  • Atomic carpet : The atomic carpets produced in GDR times are also a special feature. The motifs of these referred to the most important nuclear power plant in the GDR in Lubmin.


  • "We knotting and weaving a carpet for life." (1st line of the Low German carpet weaving song)


The Wolgast City History Museum , the "coffee mill", currently has the world's largest collection of fisherman's rugs. The custody of the University of Greifswald, which administers the artistic estate of Rudolf Stundl, has a collection of 23 Freester fishing rugs and wall hangings. Other fisherman's carpets can be viewed in the Freester Heimatstube and in the Pomeranian State Museum in Greifswald. The Freestland weblog is gradually publishing an extensive picture catalog with privately and publicly owned fisherman's carpets.

Loans from the Custody of the University of Greifswald, the Pomeranian State Museum, the Saxon State Library Dresden and private collectors can be seen in the exhibition Een Carpet for Life in the socio-cultural center St. Spiritus Greifswald until March 20, 2020 .


  • Kurt Feltkamp & Eckhard Oberdörfer: Freester Fischer rugs . Sardellus Verlag, Greifswald 2011, ISBN 978-3-9813402-2-8 .
  • Birgit Dahlenburg : Pomeranian fisherman's carpets - traditional arts and crafts or a medium of ideological appropriation? In: Bernfried Lichtnau (ed.): Fine arts in Mecklenburg and Pomerania from 1880 to 1950. Art processes between center and periphery . Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86732-061-0 , pp. 446-453.
  • Christine Senkbeil: A hundredweight of coal for the weavers. How the Kröslin altar carpet was made . In: Mecklenburg & Pomeranian church newspaper from August 11, 2008.
  • Kathrin Michulla: Nordic picture on Persian knotting technique . In: Nordkurier / Anklamer Zeitung of July 23, 2008, p. 16.
  • Kurt Feltkamp & Birgit Dahlenburg: Freester Fischer rugs from the Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald. Exhibition catalog (March 13 – April 30, 2008) on the occasion of the 110th birthday of tapestry artist Rudolf Stundl . Greifswald 2008, ISBN 978-3-86006-305-7 .
  • Kurt Feltkamp and Jürgen Flachsmeyer: Western Pomeranian fisherman carpets under historical, aesthetic and mathematical aspects. Greifswald University Speeches, New Series, No. 127, 2007.
  • Anja Prölß-Kammerer: The knotted carpet as part of "Nordic" folk art. The Pomeranian Fisherman's Carpets and the East Prussian Farmer's Carpets . In: The tapestry under National Socialism: propaganda, representation and production. Facets of an arts and crafts in the “Third Reich” . Hildesheim 2000, ISBN 978-3-487-11167-4 .
  • Sven Jeske: coveted treasures made of sheep's wool . In: Ostsee-Zeitung of September 18, 1993, p. 17.
  • Sven Jeske: Wolgaster Volkskunst-PGH makes wool and contacts . In: Ostsee-Zeitung of November 23, 1991, p. 11.
  • Lutz Mohr , Rudolf Stundl (edit.): Folk art on the Baltic Sea. 50 years of Freester and Lubminer fisherman's carpet weaving. In: New Greifswald museum books . No. 6/1978 special issue.
  • PGH folk art on the Baltic Sea (ed.): Fisher carpets. Brochure, Greifswald 1961.

web links

Commons : Pomeranian Fisherman's Carpets  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. Kurt Feltkamp: History of carpet weaving from 1928-1992 . In: Freester Fischer rugs from the Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald. Exhibition catalogue . p. 30.
  2. a b Birgit Dahlenburg: Freester Fischer rugs from the Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald - dedicated to the 110th birthday of the tapestry artist Rudolf Stundl. In: Freester Fischer rugs from the Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald. Exhibition catalogue . p. 9
  3. Anja Prölß-Kammerer: The tapestry under National Socialism. Propaganda, representation and production. Facets of an arts and crafts in the “Third Reich” . p. 165.
  4. Christine Senkbeil: "A hundredweight of coal for the weavers" - How the Kröslin altar carpet was made. In: Mecklenburg & Pomeranian church newspaper from August 11, 2008.
  5. Kurt Feltkamp: History of carpet weaving from 1928-1992 . In: Freester Fischer rugs from the Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald . Exhibition catalogue . p. 26. ISBN 978-3-86006-305-7
  6. "Persians from the Baltic Coast": Greifswald shows fisherman's carpets. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung of January 22, 2020.