Q: I’ve just picked up this mask from an antique dealer in Paris. Apparently it’s a late 19th century Swiss mask.
The teeth appear to be real but I’m not sure, and the hair feels to be human but considering its still attached to hide common sense says its probably horse. The dimensions of the mask are 30cm X 18cm. Is there anything you can tell me about it? PS: my girlfriend has bought me your book for xmas, without my even asking her!
A: This is a Roitschaeggaetae mask from the Loetsch Valley of Wallis Canton in the mountains of Switzerland. Young men would wear these masks, which they carved themselves, and dress in furs covered in a mixture of soot, blood and manure, and then chase the frightened villagers. The mask is also called a Shrovetide mask. This is a full-size example that may have been briefly used and then sold to a tourist. Yours is 12 inches high and they can bigger– 14 inches or more. 8 to 10 inch versions are made for tourists only. A