• 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

    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…

  • Europe

    Masks we don’t see often

    Q:  I’m trying to find out who made a particular mask. It was a cubist mask featured in Eyes Wide Shut, and I recently found a nearly identical mask linked from your site on Pinterest (though the link on your site is now dead). The image of the mask from Eyes Wide Shut is attached below.  David, 1438 A:  This mask can be found on page 107 of Masks of the World by Ibold and Yohn. It was purchased from a costume shop in France or Italy about 20 years ago. It is 10 inches high and made of very strong papier mache so it can be worn many times.…

  • Europe

    Sardegna carnival mask from Italy

    Q:  I bought those 2 masks 10 years ago in Mamoiada, Sardegna. These are the 2 characters of this traditional carnival, the Mamuthones and the Issohadores. The masks are new. The procession itself is almost hypnotic, it is worth the trip, unfortunately in the winter, end January till early February. I just sent you these masks, because I did not see them in your book, I recently bought on Amazon. Jean, 1418   A:  Only the black mask is shown, not the brown one. I try to limit the blog to just one mask. Carnivals in the island of Sardinia are a bit different from those in other parts of Italy…

  • Europe

    Rare chimpanzee mask from the Tyrol

    Q:  I’ve had this mask for 10 years, and paid approx. $80 at an online auction. I’ts a Fasnacht mask from the Tyrol region of Austria. I liked the expressive carving and the hinged jaw. Not sure of it’s age, but I thought I would share it with you since it’s unusual, and I haven’t seen any similar masks online.  Dan, 1400 A:  This carved wood carnival mask is obviously from the Tyrol. That means it could be used in Austria, South Germany, Eastern Switzerland or Northern Italy at “Fasnacht” to chase away winter. I can see it mixed in with those crazy Krampus characters. But it is very rare.…