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A Cheerful Gautsch Ceremony on the Gutenberg Meadow

AD 2014, 17th of June: Institute for Print and Media Technology cherished an ancient custom and affiliated five ‘cornutes’ to the printed guild

With the words `Pakket an! Lasst seinen Corpus posteriorum fallen auf diesen nassen Schwamm, bis triefen beide Ballen. Der durstgen Seel´ ein Sturzbad gebet obendrauff! Das ist dem Jünger Gutenbergs die allerbeste Tauff!´, again echoed on 17th June 2014 on the `Gutenbergwiese´ behind the Institute for Print and Media Technology at Technische Universität Chemnitz at the Reichenhainer Straße 70 (between Halls G and F). It’s a custom of the book printers, reaching back to the 16th century, when selected students and staff of the institute took part in a ceremonial baptism. In this way they were taken in the circle of disciples of Jürgen Gutenberg.

Five so-called `cornutes´ (candidates) were called up by the head of the Gautsch committee Martin Mellendorf, and then dipped by the packers into a water-filled barrel up to the head. In this year’s ritual participated Pradeep Kumar Singh, Deep Prakash, Nora Wetzold, Björn Engler and Monique Helmert. They are all employees of the Institute for Print and Media Technology. After baptism a special drink, whose recipe is secret, had to be drunk by them. The final act of this cheerful ritual was handing over of the Gautsch letters to the five baptized participants, who were liberated from all professional naughtiness.

If the paper is freshly scooped, the wet paper sheet is placed from the screen on a felt pad. In earlier centuries, the printers had a very close contact with the intellectual world of academics and students. That is why this custom was created and has been celebrated by the students once a year. Just as a topping out ceremony held by the carpenters, the typesetters and printers are being baptized, or `Gautschen´ after completion of their training. The Gautsch ceremony was and still is celebrated at TU Chemnitz as a ceremony for the inclusion of apprentices, students and staff to the Institute for Print and Media Technology in the circle of colleagues. The first Gautsch ceremony took place on June 25, 1978 on the occasion of a polygraph lawn party. Next year, there is the highest probability to hear again `Pakket an!´ on the Gutenberg meadow...

(Translation: Nataliia Boiko)

Mario Steinebach

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