TITLE: Fasnet Federahannes Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
DESCRIPTION: Federahannes (Feather Jack) Narro
MAKER: Helmut Kramer (Rottweil, 1931-2016)
CEREMONY: Fasnet (Carnival)
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).