TITLE: Austrian Witch
TYPE: helmet mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
DESCRIPTION: Witch Mask
MAKER: Josef “Sepp” Seidl, Sankt Veit im Pongau (1975- )
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.