Traditional folk art from the Alps

Satyr mask for Fasching
Satyr mask for Fasching
Q: The mask in the photos was purchased at an auction. The husband and wife were both university professors – she taught art and he taught history. They had many South American and American Southwest items. They also had a lot of older Chinese and Japan pieces. We purchased a Thai mask, but this one was intriguing. There was no provenance as there was no family left to validate where this mask was from. The mask measures (measuring from the back side) 9.5″ tall and 7.25″ wide. This does not include the trailing mustache. The wire and nails look to have been added at a later time. Directly beneath the nails on each side is a small hole that goes completely through the mask and one is located directly at the top center. It is carved of a lightweight wood. I am curious as to whether he is Mexican… and his approximate age. Lorie, 829

A: I’m so glad you are sharing this wonderful mask with us. It is not Mexican, but came from somewhere in the mountains of Germany, Switzerland or Austria. And a pretty long time ago, perhaps as much as 100 years. Do some research on European folk masks and you might be able to identify the character and the village or region where it was carved. Its nose is especially distinctive. Please let us know when you find more information. A


  • Chris

    Yeah, I think Aaron is right. Here in Switzerland, I have never seen something similar – it has a clear Bavarian touch. However, the mask seems to be very old, so there might be a chance of some Swiss carver from the old times making such a thing – but quite improbable, in my opinion.

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