• Europe

    Old Venetian carnival mask

    Q:  I am sending you pictures of a couple of painted light metal (possibly tole). I believe these could be 18th century Venetian masks.They remind me of the “Volto” type, just the mouth here is open. Do you have any information that could help?  Nicola, 1202 A:  Your research is correct. It is an old Volto character from the traditional Venetian masquerade. It is the most common style and can be seen at many parties around the Western world. Other Venetian mask characters would be the Bauta, Colombina, Plague Doctor, Pantalone, etc. I think both of your Voltos are very collectible. It sure would be nice to know when and…

  • Europe

    Fasnacht mask from Bavaria

      The festival of Fasnacht is a carnival in German folklore that takes place in the few days before Lent in Southern Germany, Switzerland and Alsace. The celebration literally means ‘Fasting Eve’ as it originally referred to the day before the fasting season of Lent. The schools are closed for this festival and all over the Black Forest there are six days of parties and making merry. This particular mask with its strange nose is old and used. Could this be the infamous Ruebezahl?

  • Europe,  Oceania

    There’s an Easter surprise in the Philippines.

    Just south of Luzon on the island of Maranduque there are Roman Catholics who celebrate the death and resurrection with realistic masks and costumes. Called the Morones Festival, it’s quite a pageant and not something you would expect to see in the South Pacific or anywhere else in Asia. It celebrates the Holy Week Festivities to the fullest with parades, processions and other activities. As in the Spanish Colonial traditions, many of the participants are costumed as Jewish followers of Jesus and the ruling Romans. Morones means army helmet in Spanish. The Morones Festival was started in 1807 by a Jesuit priest from Mexico. This Mexican folk play re-enacts the…

  • Europe,  Misc

    Mardi Gras goes back to 1699.

    A French-Canadian explorer first brought the carnival customs, then Creole society began masking and dancing at private balls while revelers in disguise roamed the streets of New Orleans. Mardi Gras is also celebrated in many of the Cajun communities scattered throughout much of Louisiana, USA. These bizarre masks made out of window screen and other cheap materials are used by the locals even in the small villages close to the swamps. The masks and costumes are pure American folk art. Wild and crazy antics, much different than what happens at the parade in New Orleans, are practiced on this famous holiday by the rural Cajuns. Mardi Gras has some other…

  • Europe

    Carnival time in Venice is the ultimate.

    Italy’s biggest carnival inspires some of the most lavish costumes and masks. These simple white masks are not supposed to distract from the lavish costumes. It’s said that the Carnival of Venice was started from a victory of a small war in the year 1162. After that it went in and out of popularity. After a long absence, the Carnival returned in 1979. The Italian government decided to bring back the history and culture of Venice, and sought to use the traditional Carnival as the centerpiece of its efforts. The re-development of the masks began as the pursuit of some Venetian college students for the tourist trade. Since then, approximately…

  • Europe

    Busos scare away Winter in Hungary.

    Thought you hated the cold weather? The terrifying Hungarian festival where revelers don grotesque masks to scare off winter is a sight to behold. Mohacs Busok (Mask-people from Mohacs town) The Busojaras (Hungarian, meaning “Buso-walking”) is an annual celebration of the Croatians living in the town of Mohacs, Hungary, held at the end of the Carnival season and ending the day before Ash Wednesday. The Busó festivities are a six-day carnival in late February that involves a lot of activities, including a children’s costume contest, a display of the art of mask carvers and other craftspeople, the arrival of more than 500 busós in rowboats on the Danube for a…

  • Europe

    Masquerade in Switzerland and Germany

    I would like to send to you a few pics about an event which takes place in my home town roughly every 10 years. It is a regional meeting of masks coming from the German parts of Switzerland and from southern Germany. It was great, there were some 60 groups, most of them with real, carved wooden masks. I think that the event proves that masking culture is well alive here north of the Alps. By the way, the photo with that mask wearing a black-red-white hat and cloth is a very well-known figure around here, the so-called “Blätz”, which means simply “an old piece of tissue”. This, because in…

  • Europe

    Tschäggättä mask from Switzerland

    Q:  Bob, would you know where I might be able to buy a Tschaggatta mask? Thanks, Bjorn   1078 A:  I found this picture on the internet. Located in the Lötschental Valley of Switzerland,  the Tschäggättä is probably one of the oddest carnivals there is. When night falls, the oversized masked figures rampage through streets in various villages between the Catholic holiday of Candlemass and Shrove Tuesday. They are not organized in groups and appear unexpectedly as they please. The spectacular and frightening Tschaggatta chase children and spectators alike, and toss soot at unsuspecting victims. A Bjorn, Ask the Maskman is a free service where I try to identify a strange…

  • Europe

    It’s Krampus time in Austria

    Troy just sent me this link. The article describes an important Christmas time festivity in the Alps and contains some wonderful photos taken on the village street. I loved looking at them. Hope you do too. http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-to-blend-in-at-an-alpine-krampus-parade

  • Europe

    Long nose mask from Baden-Württemberg

    Q:  Here are some photos of a “Langnase” carnival mask from Elzach, Germany.  This one is not old, but is made for use.  Aaron, 1064 A:  I just posted a mask from Aaron (actually two from Lombok) a week ago, which means I’m breaking my own rules again. But his acquisitions are always worth sharing with others. This one is great. It looks like it might be a Scaramouch or a Plague Doctor from the famous carnival of Venice, Italy. But instead, it’s from a much different culture in southwest Germany. Save Save Save