• 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

  • Europe

    Fancy Venetian carnival mask

    Q:  Your site is the only place I found information about a mask like this. I think it might be the same Barbare Venezie as another carnivale mask you published a photo of.  I fell in love with this through an estate auction and don’t even have it in my hands yet. The pics are from the estate sale website. I really want to know more.  Paula, 1049 A:  They are so pretty I decided to share it with our viewers even though we have a similar one already in the archives. Perhaps that’s the one you’ve seen. And don’t hesitate to wear it. These masks hold up very well. …

  • Europe

    Another interesting Buso

    Q:  I would like you to have a look at this mask. The seller has no clue about it, but I think it is an older, somewhat crude Busojaras mask from Hungary. The name on the rear seems to be Hungarian, and it comes with the year of carving. It may be unused mask but it looks like it was made for use (recess for the nose). The carved lines on the face are remarkable. What do you think of it?  Chris, 1041 A:  It is especially nice because of the excellent horns and the interesting carvings on the face. The signature should be researched and will possibly add more…

  • Europe

    Famous Comedia del Arte mask

    Q:  I’ve acquired another mask I thought you’d enjoy.  This Brighella, which I know almost nothing about except that it’s leather and at least 25-30 years old. It’s got an elastic strap on the back and was clearly made for use, and is very well done.  I wish I knew more about it, e.g., whether it was actually made in Italy or by an Italian-trained artisan.  Aaron, 1039 A:  This is the third European mask posted in a row, but I think we American collectors tend to prefer African, Oceanic and others cultures while often ignoring Europe. Also, I broke my rule of accepting only one mask per person because…

  • Europe

    Masterpiece from Europe

    Q: The Sepp Seidl Krampus mask, the fifth of his I own, is a very special one.  It has taken me four years to get him to sell me a mask with the traditional Steinbock horns instead of domestic goat horns, because the Steinbock ones are more expensive and very popular.  This mask has been used in several Perchtenlaufen over the years, and still has the plastic helmet inside it.  Aaron, 1038 A:  We are always pleased when Aaron shares one of his recent acquisitions with us. This mask is made by one of the best makers in the world. Look at the enlarged photo carefully to appreciate the workmanship.…