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Ludwig Erhard in 1965 in the gown
Graduation in the USA

A gown is a wide- sleeved , ankle- length outer garment worn by professors , graduates , clergymen and lawyers .

In Austria, for example, the robe of judges and lawyers is referred to as a gown, as is the official costume of (especially Protestant ) clergymen and rabbis in Germany . The robe (like the cassock ) is not a liturgical garment , but official clothing and originally going out clothing . The gown has its historical origin as academic clothing at medieval universities.


In Austria, the official costume of judges, public prosecutors and lawyers is referred to as "gown".

On the gowns of judges and lawyers, see main article: Robe .

University members

Gowns of the Free University of Berlin , no longer worn as a result of the 1968 movement
Academic Costume in the USA (2004)

University members only wear gowns on special, festive occasions such as awards of honorary degrees , inaugurations or anniversaries. The colors indicate which faculty the institution belongs to. At the University of Bonn z. B. the color of the medical faculty is scarlet, that of the agricultural faculty is green, that of the legal faculty is purple (crimson / carmine red), that of the philosophical faculty is dark blue (so-called Prussian blue / Berlin blue ), natural sciences / mathematics / pharmacy light blue / light blue, those of theologians purple. At the Free University of Berlin the color violet was defined for the Protestant theological faculty, purple for legal, scarlet for medical purposes and dark blue for philosophical purposes.

Each of the old German universities between Freiburg and Kiel also had its own distinctive gown. This can be seen most clearly in the gown of the rector. B. at the University of Bonn a "long, gold-embroidered coat of purple velvet" with a matching beret .

The German student movement of the 1960s , which castigated the allegedly often conservative attitudes of professors wearing gowns and what, in their opinion, failed to come to terms with the role of professors in National Socialism with the slogan Unter den Talaren - Muff von 1000 Jahre, led to the abolition of gowns. The gowns were not used again as a result of the protest in Hamburg and are now archived in the Hamburg University Archive or are part of exhibitions. Students at German universities usually no longer wear gowns during their entire studies or at graduation ceremonies.

The University of Vienna took a different approach . Emperor Joseph II had already abolished the gown in 1784. In 1927 these were reintroduced at the suggestion of Hans Uebersberger . Catholic theologians wear golden yellow, Protestant theologians light purple, lawyers purple, medical professionals lime green and philosophers dark blue. The design comes from Rudolf Bacher .

A completely different relationship to the gown, on the other hand, prevails in many other countries of the world such as the United Kingdom , the United States of America , South Africa or Poland . In the United States, it is common to wear the gown when you graduate from high school .

In the USA there is a fixed code from which the rank can also be identified. The robe of the faculty from which the wearer received his doctorate is always worn. The length of the Talars (engl. Gown ) and the length of the sleeves are firmly fixed. Three stripes on the sleeve may only be worn by persons who have been awarded a doctorate degree .

At some German universities there are tendencies to revive the valley tradition. So organized z. In 2005, for example, the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn held an American-style graduation ceremony for the first time with 2500 guests. Wearing a black gown, a colored sash and a square beret with a pendant ( tassel ) ( doctoral hat ) was compulsory for the approximately 700 participating graduates (out of a total of 2000 graduates of the final semester ). The award of a doctorate takes place here again in the gown. Similar developments can be observed above all at private universities and in the field of economics (e.g. at the Leipzig Graduate School of Management, HSBA Hamburg School of Business Administration , Fresenius University , Welfenakademie Braunschweig , EBS University of Economics and Law , at the university's business administration faculty Mannheim , at the Faculty of Economics at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main , at the Faculty of Economics at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University and at the Institute for Business Law at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg ). Often these are young universities, where it is not the connection to a historical valley tradition, but the adaptation to international, especially in the Anglo-Saxon area, customary that is decisive.


Roman Catholic Church

The gown is an ankle-length, mostly black garment. It is part of the choir clothing that can be worn by priests , acolytes and other liturgical services . A choir shirt or, for higher clergymen, a Rochett is worn over it. Regionally - especially in Austria - the black everyday garment of the priests, the cassock , is called gown .

In the past, it was common for candidates for priesthood to wear the robe as an everyday garment. The graduates of the Germanicum could be recognized by their red gowns, which is why they were also called "Frati rossi".

For altar servers, the robe is sometimes in the liturgical color of the day. In some places a distinction is made between Sundays and public holidays, on which red gowns are worn, and the other times or days in the church year, on which the black gown is worn.

Protestant churches

Max Frommel in his gown

In Protestantism, gown refers to the pastor's black official costume . The gowns are designed differently , depending on the regional church or independent Evangelical Lutheran Church . For example, with a stand-up collar (especially in northern Germany) or with a velvet trim (e.g. in Bavaria). In the independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, the old Lutheran gown (V-neck with shawl collar) is widespread. The robe be Geneva bands or (in the Hanse cities) a neck brace worn ( Hamburger or Lübeck Ornat ). In Lutheran churches in particular, the stole has recently been gaining acceptance and is worn over the robe in the respective liturgical color in addition to or instead of the buffalo. The Swiss canton of Graubünden with the open Scaletta coat is a specialty in European Protestantism with regard to the official costume .

The gown was only approved in 1811 by a cabinet order from King Friedrich Wilhelm III. Introduced in Prussia for (Christian and Jewish) clergy, judges and other royal officials. During the Reformation, chasuble vestments were often still in use in the Lutheran churches. The vestments were counted among the Adiaphora . They were therefore not considered to be scriptural , but neither were they considered necessary for salvation. Martin Luther himself wore chasubles to the celebration of the Lord's Supper, only the black skirt of the theological university professors at the time for sermons.

After 1811 the robe became an official costume in Germany and through its use it became the usual liturgical clothing of the evangelical pastors. Volunteer preachers ( preachers ) also wear the pastor's robe in the Rhenish, Westphalian and Baden regional churches and in the church province of Saxony. In the Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck, the predicants wear their own predicant gown (black gown of Prussian form with V-neck without shawl collar), also in the Bavarian regional church (black gown with pinched folds, V-neck with red shawl collar). The predicants of the Hanoverian regional church are free to wear a gown that differs slightly in length and shape from the pastor's gown. Predicants of the Evangelical Church in Württemberg do not wear a gown. However, they are free to wear a cloak albums intended for the service of voluntary preaching (without a stole) as a liturgical robe.

In principle, gowns and hats are protected by Section 132a of the Criminal Code (misuse of titles, professional titles and badges).

By wearing the black gown, on the one hand, the informative (instructive) teaching character of the evangelical worship service is to be emphasized, in which the preaching of the word of God is the focus. On the other hand, the person of the liturgist takes a back seat through clothing.

Since in the course of time the “festive character” of church services has increasingly come to the fore in the Protestant churches, more and more thought is being given about the gown. As a sign of the connection between teaching and celebration, some regional churches now allow the stole to be worn with a gown. In some places in Lutheran communities, gowns and beffs are completely replaced by alb and stole on special occasions such as baptisms or Christmas . As a rule (e.g. in the Evangelical Church in Bavaria ) a corresponding resolution by the church council is required. In the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church, the gown has already been generally replaced in favor of the alb with stole in very many parishes. Changes to the worship clothes require the consent of the community assembly. The Evangelical Lutheran Free Church, however, continues to hold on to the gown.

Funeral services

In the technical jargon of the undertakers , the so-called shroud , the clothing of the deceased in the coffin , is also referred to as a gown.

See also


  • Martha Bringemeier: priestly and scholarly clothing . Tunic - sutane, scabbard - gown. A contribution to an intellectual historical costume research . Münster 1974 ( full text as PDF )


  1. to middle lat. talare or Latin talaria (plural), substantiated from talaris 'belonging to the ankle', 'reaching to the ankle', in Latin: talus 'ankle', 'fetlock', 'heel'

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Kurt Mühlberger: From the University Chronicle 1884-1984 In: Hermann Fillitz (Ed.): The University on the Ring. Christian Brandstätter Verlag & Edition, Vienna 1984, ISBN 3-85447-118-1 , p. 53.
  2. ^ Royal Prussian Cabinet Order of March 20, 1811; quoted by: Walter Lotz: The wedding dress. On the question of liturgical vestments in Protestant worship (= In the service of the church. Vol. 6, ZDB -ID 978716-1 ). Stauda-Verlag, Kassel 1949, p. 40 f.
  3. ^ Friedemann Merkel: Black - or lighter? To the official costume of Protestant pastors. In: Heinrich Riehm (Ed.): Festschrift for Frieder Schulz. Joy in worship. Self-published, Heidelberg 1988, pp. 219-227, 233.