They may be the most stylish carpenters in the world.
They are Journeymen – Gesellen. Since the 13th century, these young German tradesmen have gone ‘auf der Walz,‘ or taken to the road with little more than a walking stick and their tools. Then, as now, they always were their trademark, tailored Kluft: bellbottom pants, double-breasted vests with gigantic buttons, and a black slouch hat. In modern times, fedoras are very popular.
They wander the earth, for at least three years, doing their job. Stonemasons ogle the technique of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and carpenters survey the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. They take odd jobs, and are often put up and supported by strangers, cafe owners and farmers who are inevitably impressed with their skills. They’re almost always the most interesting people at parties.
There are rules. No Journeyman can come home: not within fifty kilometers of their hometown. No cell phones. Always wear the Kluft – of which they have a second, less expensive pair, for work. And it may or may not be a rule to look fantastically snazzy at all times.
In the whole world, there are only hundreds left: estimates range from 250 to 600. And yet, if you ask, many of them have tales of running into each other – from Morocco to New Zealand.