TITLE: Bärentreiber (?) Mask
TYPE: face mask
COUNTRY: Germany
ETHNICITY: German (Bavarian)
DESCRIPTION: Mask of an older man, possibly a Bärentreiber (Bear Tamer)
MAKER: Hans Guggemoos (Garmisch-Partenkirchen)
CEREMONY: Fasnacht (Carnival)
AGE: ca. 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: cedar wood

Fasching or Fasnacht 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 might represent the Bärentreiber, a mature man who tames a bear (which he keeps on a chain or rope in the Carnival parade). This character is sometimes seen in the Fasnacht parades. It is signed with the initials of the maker on the back, CH.

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).