TITLE: Fasnet “Sepp” Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Germany
SUBREGION: Oberammergau
ETHNICITY: Swabian (German)
DESCRIPTION: “Sepp” Character Mask
MAKER: Josef-Christian Albl, Oberammergau (1955- )
CEREMONY: Fasnet (Carnival)
AGE: 2012
MAIN MATERIAL: linden wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

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 (NarrenlaufenNarrensprung or Narrenzunft) is organized by guilds, all members of which wear similar kinds of costumes and masks.  Each town has its own guilds, with some overlap in styles of Narro.  Their purpose is to usher in the spring with joy and laughter.

Some carnival masks are not part of Narro guilds, but are unique to the individual wearing them.  This specific mask was made by master carver Josef Albl, who traces his remarkable family history of wood carvers back to 1556.  It represents a character invented by Albl with a slightly comical expression.

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