Europe

Tschäggättä mask from the Swiss Alps

aaaMystrySolvd-929Q:  I recently purchased this large old mask from a Canadian gentleman who had no knowledge of it’s origin or history. I’d guess it to be Eastern European, Tyrolean or possibly Swiss, but I’m not entirely certain where it’s from. I’m hoping you, or one of the many collectors who visit your site, may recognize it. It shows signs of use and has holes around the perimeter indicating it may have had a cloth or fur hood at one point. It also has a concave area surrounded by  holes on the back that most likely held padding in place for the comfort of the wearer. It measures approx 14″X 9″, medium weight wood, and has an attached nose.  Dan, 929

A:  I believe it is a Tschaggatta mask from an isolated rural area of German-speaking Switzerland. The Lötschental valley is famous for its unique local custom involving the so-called Tschäggättä: frightening figures wearing furs and carved wooden masks that walk the streets during carnival tossing soot at their unsuspecting victims.  This one has a long crooked nose and a patina that suggests old age. The fur wig is missing. Whether or not it had padding on the rear, I don’t know.  A nice piece for a serious collector or museum.  A

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