TITLE: Carnival Character
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Switzerland
SUBREGION: Lucerne
ETHNICITY: Swiss
DESCRIPTION: Character Mask
CATALOG ID: EUCH011
MAKER: Toni Meier (Kriens, 1941- )
CEREMONY: Fasnacht (Carnival)
AGE: 1975
MAIN MATERIAL: linden wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; lacquer

Fasnacht is what the Swiss call Carnival.  In many towns in Switzerland, Austria, southern Germany, and northern Italy, local folk don elaborate masks and costumes to parade through the town.  Different Swiss towns have variations on the parade, such as Fasnacht of Basel, the Tschäggättä of Lötschental, or the Rabadan of Bellinzona.

Although traditional masked Carnival is no longer celebrated in most of Lucerne, in the town of Kriens, masquerade using masks called Muur or Hübeli still plays a role. Two types of masked are typically used in this region, satirical character masks such as this one, which can represent either sex. Character masks come in many different types, such as the Wöschwyb (washerwoman) and Alter (old man). The other type are Schreckmasken (fright masks) representing scary men, known as the Krienser Deckel (Kriens head) and Buuremaa (farmer).

Unfortunately, the best book on Swiss masking traditions is available in German only: Albert Bärtsch, Holzmasken: Fasnachts- und Maskenbrauchtum in der Schweiz, in Süddeutschland und Österreich (AT Verlag 1993).

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TITLE: Paper Carnival Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Germany
SUBREGION: N/A
ETHNICITY: German
DESCRIPTION: Paper Carnival mask of man with monocle
CATALOG ID: EUDE012
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: ca. 1920s
MAIN MATERIAL: kraft paper
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

During the 1920s and 1930s in Europe, sluggish economies created demand for inexpensive versions of traditional Carnival masks that had previously been made from wood or thick paper maché. Enterprising companies began making disposable masks from cheaper kraft paper, hand painted by the abundant labor available due to high unemployment. This mask originates in Germany and represents a sophisticated man wearing a monocle, then fashionable.

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TITLE: Volto Carnival Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
SUBREGION: Venice
ETHNICITY: Italian
DESCRIPTION: Volto Carnival Mask
CATALOG ID: EUIT013
MAKER: Carta Alta, Venice
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: early 2000s
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: macrame; paint; rhinestones; ribbon

The volto (“face”) is a classic Venetian Carnival mask that covers the entire face for maximum anonymity. The lack of an opening, like the bauta mask, makes it appear more natural but less functional, as the masquerader must remove the mask for eating and drinking, and speaking is obstructed by the lack of a mouth opening.

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TITLE: Fasnet Federahannes Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Germany
SUBREGION: Swabia
ETHNICITY: Swabian
DESCRIPTION: Federahannes (Feather Jack) Narro
CATALOG ID: EUDE014
MAKER: Helmut Kramer (Rottweil, 1931-2016)
CEREMONY: Fasnet (Carnival)
AGE: 1967
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: gesso; oil paint; horsehair; satin ribbons; dyed cotton thread

In many parts of Swabia and Bavaria, Carnival (usually called Fasnet or Fastnet in this region of Germany) is celebrated with parades of masked clowns (Narren).  The clown parade (Narrensprung) is organized by guilds, all members of which wear similar costumes and masks.  Each town has its own guilds, with some overlap in styles of Narro.  Like this one, most are creepy in an inimitably Germanic way. Their purpose is to usher in the spring with joy and laughter.

Carnival in Rottweil extends back at least to the 16th century, and the Federahannes, or “Feather Jack,” is a longstanding character in the Fasnet of Rottweil. They appear in white shirts and gloves; a wool jacket and pants in brown, red, blue, and green motley; and a black bow tie. The Federahannes also wears a black horsehair wig (Rosshaarkranz) with ribbons to satirize vanity, with a black tricorn hat. The pants and jacket are covered in goose feathers (hence the name), and he has a pair of ornamental goose wings. The Federahannes carries a 2-meter vaulting pole that he uses to jump around acrobatically, apparently conveying the idea that the fool believes that by wearing bird feathers, he can fly.

This specific mask was carved by the late master, Helmut Kramer of Rottweil.

Regrettably, the best texts on Carnival in Bavaria and Swabia are still available in German only: Heinz Wintermantel’s Hoorig, hoorig isch die Katz (Würzburg: Konrad Theiss, 1978) and Dick Eckert’s Die Werdenfelser Fasnacht und ihre Larven (Volk Verlag München, 2015).

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TITLE: Austrian Perchtenmaske and Costume
TYPE: helmet mask; costume; accessory
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Austria
ETHNICITY: Tyrolean
DESCRIPTION: Perchtenmaske (Krampus Mask) and Costume
CATALOG ID: EUAT013
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Perchtenlauf
AGE: 2003 (mask); 2014 (costume)
MAIN MATERIAL (Mask): wood
OTHER MATERIALS (Mask): goat horns; paint; goat fur; rabbit fur; foam rubber; adhesive
MAIN MATERIAL (Costume): goat leather and fur
OTHER MATERIALS (Costume): bronze hardware; bronze bells; birch sticks; cloth; paint

Perchtenlauf is a Tyrolean winter festival equivalent to the old Norse Yule.  In many parts of Austria, southern Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, in mid-December the town organizes a parade of Perchten, or demons who represent evil spirits (known in Germany as Krampus).  The Perchten wear frightening horned masks with sharp teeth and long, lolling tongues, typically in a suit of goat skin with loud cowbells attached to their belt.  Their function is to accompanying St. Nicholas, who reward good children with treats and presents, while the Perchten punish bad children by beating them with birch switches or throwing them into wicker baskets on their backs to carry down to Hell for punishment.

This complete costume includes a goat leather body suit, gloves with simulated long nails (made of leather), a leather and bronze belt with bronze cowbells, and a birch stick switch for whipping children and other audience members.

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TITLE: Austrian Perchtenmaske
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Austria
ETHNICITY: Tyrolean
DESCRIPTION: Alter Mann (Old Man) Perchtenmaske (Krampus Mask)
CATALOG ID: EUAT003
MAKER: Josef “Sepp” Seidl, Sankt Veit im Pongau (1975- )
CEREMONY: Perchtenlauf
AGE: 2013
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; sheep’s wool; wool Tirolean hat; foam padding; mesh; wood pipe

Perchtenlauf is a Tyrolean winter festival equivalent to the old Norse Yule.  In many parts of Austria, southern Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, in mid-December the town organizes a parade of Perchten, or demons who represent evil spirits (known in Germany as Krampus).  The Perchten wear frightening horned masks with sharp teeth and long, lolling tongues, typically in a suit of goat skin with loud cowbells attached to their belt.  Their function is to accompanying St. Nicholas, who reward good children with treats and presents, while the Perchten punish bad children by beating them with birch switches or throwing them into wicker baskets on their backs to carry down to Hell for punishment.

Although this mask is technically a Perchte mask, the character resembles a grumpy old man and is the companion to the old woman Krampus made by the same artist, Sepp Seidl.

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TITLE: Oddfellows Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: United Kingdom (England)
SUBREGION: N/A
ETHNICITY: English
DESCRIPTION: Oddfellows Ceremonial Mask
CATALOG ID: EUGB001
MAKER: Unknown
FUNCTiON: Secret Society
AGE: early twentieth century
MAIN MATERIAL: wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: copper strips; paint

The Oddfellows is a British secret society, founded in 1730 in London as a fraternal order and eventually spreading to the United States as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. The Oddfellows promote philanthropy and sponsor recreational events for their members. The initiation rituals of the society feature elaborate scripted ceremonies with masks, costumes, and props. The precise use of this mask is unknown, however.

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TITLE: Austrian Perchtenmaske
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Austria
ETHNICITY: Tyrolean
DESCRIPTION: Alte Frau (Old Woman) Perchtenmaske (Krampus Mask)
CATALOG ID: EUAT011
MAKER: Josef “Sepp” Seidl, Sankt Veit im Pongau (1975- )
CEREMONY: Perchtenlauf
AGE: 2013
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; cloth headscarf; horse hair; leather; foam padding; mesh

Perchtenlauf is a Tyrolean winter festival equivalent to the old Norse Yule.  In many parts of Austria, southern Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, in mid-December the town organizes a parade of Perchten, or demons who represent evil spirits (known in Germany as Krampus).  The Perchten wear frightening horned masks with sharp teeth and long, lolling tongues, typically in a suit of goat skin with loud cowbells attached to their belt.  Their function is to accompanying St. Nicholas, who reward good children with treats and presents, while the Perchten punish bad children by beating them with birch switches or throwing them into wicker baskets on their backs to carry down to Hell for punishment.

Although this mask is technically a Perchte mask, the character resembles a Hexe (witch) and is the companion to the old man Krampus made by the same artist, Sepp Seidl.

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TITLE: Fasnet Old Man Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Germany
SUBREGION: Bavaria
ETHNICITY: Swabian (German)
DESCRIPTION: Alter Mann (Old Man) Mask
CATALOG ID: EUDE010
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fasnet (Carnival)
AGE: 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; leather straps; hardware

In many parts of Swabia and Bavaria, Carnival (usually called Fasnet or Fastnet in this region of Germany) is celebrated with parades of masked clowns (Narren) and characters lampooning local villager types. The beer-swiller, the gossip, and benign old man and woman, and the fool are all typically represented. This mask represents an alter Mann (old man).

Regrettably, the best texts on Carnival in Bavaria and Swabia are still available in German only: Heinz Wintermantel’s Hoorig, hoorig isch die Katz (Würzburg: Konrad Theiss, 1978) and Dick Eckert’s Die Werdenfelser Fasnacht und ihre Larven (Volk Verlag München, 2015).

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TITLE: Austrian Witch
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Austria
ETHNICITY: Tyrolean
DESCRIPTION: Witch Mask
CATALOG ID: EUAT012
MAKER: Josef “Sepp” Seidl, Sankt Veit im Pongau (1975- )
CEREMONY: Perchtenlauf
AGE: 2011
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: goat leather and hair; wire mesh; paint; plastic helmet; hardware

Perchtenlauf is a Tyrolean winter festival equivalent to the old Norse Yule.  In many parts of Austria, southern Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, in mid-December the town organizes a parade of Perchten, or demons who represent evil spirits (known in Germany as Krampus).  The Perchten wear frightening horned masks with sharp teeth and long, lolling tongues, typically in a suit of goat skin with loud cowbells attached to their belt.  Their function is to accompanying St. Nicholas, who reward good children with treats and presents, while the Perchten punish bad children by beating them with birch switches or throwing them into wicker baskets on their backs to carry down to Hell for punishment. Frequently the Perchten are led or accompanied by a witch (Hexe), such as the one represented here.

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