A smith with inner strength: Kilian Trenkle is the fifth generation of his family to forge cow bells, and also a committed Yogi. He thus creates both the perfect mountain summer sound and relaxed Salamba Shirshasana
Blacksmith and Yogi Kilian Trenkle
"The ringing of cows is simply part of the Allgäu," enthuses bell smith Kilian Trenkle. "For what would a cattle shed be without the colourful ringing of a herd of cows?" He sits by the comfortably glowing fire of his bell forge in Pfronten-Heitlern.
Trenkle learned to forge bells from his father - and thus took over an Allgäu traditional craft. One thing is certain for him: without the special sound of cow bells, the mountain summer on the Ostallgäuer Alm would probably only be half as idyllic.
Clamps - individual and yet traditional
The flames blaze from the open fire in the massive iron oven. Kilian Trenkle stokes the fire, places a sheet of metal in the centre of it and heats it until it softens and becomes malleable. It will take a few hours for Trenkle to forge a cowbell from the metal by hand. He is one of just a few people who can still do this craft. “Bells are extremely important on the mountain pastures. They tell the herdsmen where their herds are and whether the herds are complete.
Furthermore, tradition states that the noise of the bell keeps evil spirits at bay”, he explains. Trenkle learnt the craft of bell forging from his father. The fire in the locksmiths and bell forge “Beim Hummelbaur” in Pfronten-Heitlern has been blazing forfour generations now. The warm glow of the fire, the muffled impact of the hammer, the careful movements of the smith – bell forging has a meditative aspect. It fits that Trenkle also works as a yoga teacher. Becoming a bell forger was never forced upon him, he says.
The most beautiful profession in the world
"I called it FeetUp and began selling it online."
He was free to choose his own path: “After completing my A-levels, the first thing I did was to design a stool for headstands for yoga as a product designer. I called it FeetUp and began selling it online.” With success. Barcelona, London, Amsterdam – the headstand stool was soon in demand and Kilian presented his idea again and again at yoga conferences and trade fairs.
Over the years, it developed into a small family business. Trenkle likes to refer to yoga and everything that it entails as hissoft side; as the complete opposite to thearchaic, powerful craft of forging bells. The contrast appeals to him.
Each clamp a unique piece
It takes the man from Pfronten around 1,000 blows to create the two curved halves of the bell from two pieces of flat sheet metal; he then welds them together. Trenkle then mounts the tongue, which generates the characteristic bell ring when it hits the sheet metal. “The meadow sounds perfect when the angelic tone of the “Glocken” bells mixes with the earthy sound of the ’Schellen’ bell”, states Trenkle.“I discovered forging bells for myself in my early twenties. Besides yoga, forging bells started taking up more and more time. I am always fascinated by the idea of creating something with your own hands. It is clear to me now that forging is the best job in the world.”
“Yes, the chiming of cows is somehow a key part of mountain climbing in the Allgäu”, enthuses Trenkle with a finished bell in his hand. And rightly so: The mountain summer would not be half as wonderful without the special ringing, the bright jingling and clanging of a herd of cows on the alpine pasture.
Find out more about Kilian Kilians Yoga stool
... from Kilian
The “Ostlerhütte” boasts a fantastic location on Pfronten’s local mountain. It offers a unique view of the Pfronten valley and the mountains of the Allgäu.
die-ostler-huette.de (only in German)
On foot or on two wheels, the barely sloping route from Pfronten-Ried runs along the Vils for a good five kilometres until it reaches the Kalbelehof Alpe, nestling in the heart of the Allgäu Alps. In the summer, you can enjoy a refreshing dip in the waters of the Vils.
pfronten.de (only in German)