TITLE: Fasnet Witch
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Austria
ETHNICITY: Tyrolean
DESCRIPTION: Hexe (Witch) Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fasnet (Carnival)
AGE: 2013
MAIN MATERIAL: Swiss stone pine wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint

Carnival (Fasnet) is celebrated throughout the Tyrol (southern Germany, western Austria, Switzerland and northern Italy) with masked parades and merry making. Among the popular characters are animals, clowns, drunkards, and witches.  Witch masks could also be used during Krampuslauf or Perchtenlauf, the traditional mid-winter parade of demons accompanying Saint Nicholaus.  This mask was made by a master carver with a traditional Tyrolean conception of a witch.

Regrettably, the best text on Tyrolean Carnival is still available in German only: Heinz Wintermantel’s Hoorig, hoorig isch die Katz (Würzburg: Konrad Theiss, 1978).

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TITLE: Austrian Perchtenmaske
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Austria
ETHNICITY: Tyrolean
DESCRIPTION: Perchtenmaske (Krampus Mask)
MAKER: Josef “Sepp” Seidl, Sankt Veit im Pongau (1975- )
CEREMONY: Perchtenlauf
AGE: 2009
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: goat horns; mesh; glass eyes; paint; horse hair

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.

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TITLE: Scheller Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Austria
ETHNICITY: Tyrolean
DESCRIPTION: Scheller Fasching Mask
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Fasching (Carnival)
AGE: 1870s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

Fasching is the Tyrolean carnival.  In many towns in Austria, southern Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy, local folk don elaborate masks and costumes to parade through the town.  Different towns have variations on the parade, such as the Schemenlaufen of Imst, the Schellerlaufen of Nassereith, and the Muller and Matschgerer of Innsbruck, Austria.

The characters include young and old personalities alike. This mask represents the Scheller, a mature man who wears heavy cowbells on his hips and rings them as he walks.  The costumes feature ribbons, mirrors, and beads to symbolize vanity, materialism, and wickedness.

For more on traditional Tyrolean folk masks, see Claus Hansmann, Masken Schemen Larven: Volksmasken der Aplenländer (Munich: Verlag F. Bruckmann, 1959).

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