• Europe

    Contemporary Greek carnival masks

    Q: I haven’t seen any photos of contemporary Greek masks in the site yet, so I thought I could share one to bring some attention to their great carnival tradition. In the attached picture you can see the main masks of the Boules carnival (Bride and Janissary) from Naoussa, in Greece. I had the opportunity to spend some time with an artisan family that have been making these masks and costumes for generations, and I learned how much tradition there is in every aspect of it (masks & costumes, performances, dancing, etc.). When I got these masks then, I even got the male one custom-fitted to my head! (the in-process…

  • Europe

    Old European mask?

    Q: I bought this mask as a “Perchtenmaske” on Ebay, but I think it´s not European. Its made of leather and the nose and the eyes are wooden. Maybe you can give me some information. Peter, 1663 A: After studying your photos I think you might have an old, used artifact that could be worth a lot of money. It certainly looks authentic. But where is it really from? Perchten is an ancient pagan festival meant to drive out the devils of winter in early December with a Perchtenlauf or parade of these devil like creatures through the center of Austrian villages. Yours also might be a type I have…

  • Europe

    Tschaggatta mask from Swiss Alps

    Q: This is a Native American mask. I would love your reaction/input. Dominikija, 1654 A: On February 8, 2019, a viewer submitted a similar mask that he found in an attic in North Carolina. It was roughly 10 inches tall (minus the hair) and 8 inches wide. It appeared to have real teeth. Take a look at #1515 in our archives. What I thought was a Cherokee Booger mask was actually a small, decorative Tschäggättä mask from Lotschental in the Swiss Alps. The Mask Man had gotten it wrong. Well, I’m not going to make that mistake again. Incidentally, you can easily learn more about this traditional European mask with…

  • Europe

    Botarga mask from Spain

    Different parts of Spain have their own unique ways of designing masks and costumes for celebration. I believe the botarga, a distinctive character associated with the traditional winter festivities in the region of Guadalajara, is the fifth blog I done on Spanish masks. They are all different. The botarga is a character connected to today’s religious celebrations. Its origins are thought to date from pre-Roman times and to be related with fertility rites. The mask’s typical accessories are the brightly colored costume, a truncheon, castanets and the cowbells tied around the waist. It is made of brightly painted walnut wood. The face resembles a devil, with an open mouth, pointed…

  • Europe

    Old-style Charlie Chaplin mask

    Q: Hi, I got this mask on a yard sale, I’ve never seen something like it, and am asking for an opinion. Ericka, 1577 A: At the age of 82, I have seen images of Charlie Chaplin hundreds of times. But for millennials he could be ancient history. Several years ago I posted a very similar mask. The copy said… Halloween Charlie Chaplin Mask. Dresden, Germany. Painted papier mache. Hand-painted and constructed of heavy papier mache, this mask probably was made for Fasching. Germans call the pre-Lenten Carnival Fasching or Fastnacht, Americans call it Marti Gras. Here is what Wikipedia says today… Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin (16 April 1889 –…

  • Europe

    Strange masks from Basque country

    Q: Hi, I am Basque from the Spanish Basque Country, do you know anything about Basque masks? We have some in our traditions. Fernando, 1563 A: I know nothing about Basque masks. So I looked around the internet and found these four crazy masks from the the appropriate region of Northern Spain. All four seem to be photographed at local carnivals. Perhaps you could do some research, and maybe one of our viewers will have something to contribute as well.

  • Europe

    Rottweiler fool’s mask

    Q: In Rottweil, a small town in the South of Germany, they have every year in February a procession with traditional old masks. It’s called the “Rottweiler fool’s procession.” Axel, 1551 A: Thank you. I found a photo on the internet of this event. Also, on May 4, 2018, I posted mask #1354 which was described as follows: TITLE: Fasnet Gschell Mask COUNTRY: Germany SUBREGION: Rottweil ETHNICITY: Swabian German DESCRIPTION: Gschell Narro MAKER: Helmut Kramer CEREMONY: Fasnet (Carnival) AGE: ca. 1970s-1980s MATERIAL: wood, paint You can access two nice close-ups of these famous masks on this website.

  • Europe

    German witch mask

    Our witch carnival mask from Cologne is a molded plastic grey-haired hag face, with a blue and red headscarf and elastic band to hold it for wearing. The Cologne carnival begins on a Thursday six weeks before Easter. It is a time of riotous celebration before the start of Lent. The first day is the Women’s Carnival, and witch masks (although worn throughout the Carnival) are worn on that day in particular. They represent both the benign Wise Woman and the Wicked Witch of German folk tales. In Germany most homes have a ‘house witch’– a fabric model of a witch to bring them good luck, often with a small…

  • Europe

    Tschäggättä mask from the Swiss Alps

    Q: The mask was found in an attic in North Carolina. It is roughly 10 inches tall (minus the hair) and 8 inches wide. It appears to have real teeth. The number 18 is stamped in the back. Josh, 1515 A: This copy has been removed because it was incorrect.

  • Europe

    Bulgarian kukeri masks

    In a practice dating back millennia, Bulgaria’s kukeri dancers don dramatic costumes to dispel evil and invite good. The ritual is a public one, profoundly ancient, full of spectacle and metaphor. Around early winter or midwinter, groups of kukeri (pronounced KOO-kuh-ree) don elaborate costumes—complete with fantastical masks and belts of massive metal bells—and accompany musicians throughout the village, dancing rhythmically to drive away evil and invite good. They are “multipurpose” rituals: The bells clanging and the costumes shocking faces divert the evil eye, but the mummers’ dancing path throughout the village also invoke the fertility of people, animals, and agriculture. Kukeri rituals have also served as coming-of-age ceremonies for young…