TITLE: Fasnet Witch
TYPE: face mask
COUNTRY: Germany
DESCRIPTION: Forest witch mask
MAKER: Josef-Christian Albl (Oberammergau, 1955- )
CEREMONY: Fasnet (Carnival)
AGE: 2012
MAIN MATERIAL: linden wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; lacquer

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 slightly comical version of the classic Tyrolean witch character.

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).