TITLE: Carnival Wöschwyb
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
DESCRIPTION: Wöschwyb (Washwoman) Mask
MAKER: Toni Meier, Kriens (1941- )
CEREMONY: Fasnacht (Carnival)
MAIN MATERIAL: linden wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; lacquer; dyed cloth
Fasnacht is what the Swiss call Carnival. In many towns in Switzerland, Austria, southern Germany, and northern Italy, local folk don elaborate masks and costumes to parade through the town. Different Swiss towns have variations on the parade, such as Fasnacht of Basel, the Tschäggättä of Lötschental, or the Rabadan of Bellinzona.
Although traditional masked Carnival is no longer celebrated in most of Lucerne, in the town of Kriens, masquerade using masks called Muur or Hübeli still plays a role. Two types of masked are typically used in this region, satirical character masks such as this one, which can represent either sex. Character masks come in many different types, such as the Wöschwyb (washerwoman) and Alter (old man). The other type are Schreckmasken (fright masks) representing scary men, known as the Krienser Deckel (Kriens head) and Buuremaa (farmer).
Unfortunately, the best book on Swiss masking traditions is available in German only: Albert Bärtsch, Holzmasken: Fasnachts- und Maskenbrauchtum in der Schweiz, in Süddeutschland und Österreich (AT Verlag 1993).