Monday, February 19, 2007

Ethnographic Notes from an Old Country

From the Fasnet (Allemanisch/Schwäbisch Carnival) parade this afternoon in Schramberg.


Civic Center said...

Cool photos. But what in god's name is going on, narratively speaking, with the Mask People?

Daniel Wolf said...

I can only describe what I saw that day. In the Carnival traditions of this region, with origins that are said to be pre-christian, each village has a club with its own mask type. The figures -- witches, wood sprites, woodsmen, bears, wolves, cats, dogs -- are all forest types, and presumably more associated with their powers to fight winter than to delay Lent. When a club of "Narren" ("fools" or "crazies"), approaches in a parade, often accompanied by a wind band, playing very simple music, and the largest group of masked figures "leap" in a characteristic way, sometimes giving sweets or pretzels or mandarins to watchers, in return for the watchers correctly chanting the name of the club. At the tail end of the group, there are usually a few more dexterous leapers, who wrestle with one another, do some elaborate flips, and sometimes take people prisoner from the crowd. (The prison is a wagon with a presumably full beer keg).