TITLE: Fasnet Gretle
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
ETHNICITY: Swabian (German)
DESCRIPTION: Gretle Narro
MAKER: Unknown maker in Todtmoos
CATALOG ID: EUDE007
CEREMONY: Fasnet (Carnival)
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; lacquer; elastic straps
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 (Narrensprung) is organized by guilds (Zarrenzunft), all members of which wear similar 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.
The small town of Todtmoos in Baden-Württemberg has a Carnival tradition of parading clowns called Gretle, a comical woman in a red cap and gown and carrying a red umbrella. The Gretles are organized by the Lebküchler Guild.
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).