Mask carving and Fasnacht in Sarganserland


Category:
Traditional craftsmanship
  • Social practices
Canton:

Description

The practice of carving wooden masks was first introduced in the Sarganserland region at the start of the 19th century by migrant workers from southern Germany and Tirol. The oldest wooden mask, "Di Alt" from Walenstadt, dates back to the year 1832. Until the 1930s, the wooden masks in Sarganserland were character masks. By exaggerating facial features, they caricatured village personalities or behavioural characteristics such as garrulity. Wood-carvers still manufacture traditional masks to this day. The 1930s saw the emergence of horror, demon and devil masks, and the first devil group originated in the year 1954. The variations on witch masks which are prevalent today are based on the older "Wiibli" masks.

After the Second World War there was a boom in the wood-carving industry, resulting in increased production of both imitations of old masks and creative new designs. Flums developed into the most important centre for mask-carving, and its carvers created masks that achieved renown far beyond the region's borders. Today, the popularity of wood-carving remains undiminished. The traditional craft is passed on in families and is also taught at public wood-carving courses. The newly established wood-carvers' associations make a vital contribution to the preservation of the carving tradition. At present, there are some sixty active amateur wood-carvers in the Sarganserland region.

Image gallery

  • «Di Alt», the main figure of the «Fasnachtsgesellschaft Walenstadt», dated to the year 1832 © Schnitzer: Paul Mannhart, Berschis
  • «D’Chrottni», Flums village original since 1890 © Schnitzer: Bruno Bless, Flums, 2006
  • «Dr Böllni», main figure of the Mels Fasnacht © Schnitzer: Linus Honegger, Mels
  • «Dr Melser Rölli», main figure of the Mels Fasnacht since 1920 © Schnitzer: Alois Tschirky, Mels
  • «Silberfuchs» (silver fox), main figure of the «Murg Fasnachtsgesellschaft» since 1928 © Schnitzer: Hans Bartholet, Flumserberg, 1994/95
  • «Dr Langnasni» (the Longnose), traditional character mask from Flums © Schnitzer: Giovanni Testi, Flums
  • «Dr Finstergugger», Flums village original since the 1940s © Schnitzer: Niggi Stoop, Flums, 2005
  • «Schwarzer Engel» (black angel), Flums mask group since 1954 © Schnitzer: Hugo Reichlin, Flums
  • «Wiigeischt», mask group from Walenstadt in existence since 1998 © Schnitzer: Max Tschus, Walenstadt
  • «Sardona-Tüüfel» (Sardona devil), mask group from Pfäfers in existence since 2003 © Schnitzer: Max Tschus, Walenstadt
  • «Dr Tüüfel» (the devil), individual mask © Schnitzer: Marcus Deflorin, Flums, 2006
  • «S’Zahnärztli» (the dentist), fantasy mask © Schnitzer: Bruno Bless, Flums, 2007
  • «Der Löwe», (the lion), fantasy mask © Schnitzerin: Heidi Walter, Reichenburg, Kanton Schwyz, 2011
  • Popular justice with self-appointed criminal judge at the Flums street carnival. Around 1930.
  • Street carnival around 1927
  • Flums street carnival with a group of masked participants in used 'Huttlen', 1913
  • «Di Alt», the main figure of the «Fasnachtsgesellschaft Walenstadt», dated to the year 1832 © Schnitzer: Paul Mannhart, Berschis
  • «D’Chrottni», Flums village original since 1890 © Schnitzer: Bruno Bless, Flums, 2006
  • «Dr Böllni», main figure of the Mels Fasnacht © Schnitzer: Linus Honegger, Mels
  • «Dr Melser Rölli», main figure of the Mels Fasnacht since 1920 © Schnitzer: Alois Tschirky, Mels
  • «Silberfuchs» (silver fox), main figure of the «Murg Fasnachtsgesellschaft» since 1928 © Schnitzer: Hans Bartholet, Flumserberg, 1994/95
  • «Dr Langnasni» (the Longnose), traditional character mask from Flums © Schnitzer: Giovanni Testi, Flums
  • «Dr Finstergugger», Flums village original since the 1940s © Schnitzer: Niggi Stoop, Flums, 2005
  • «Schwarzer Engel» (black angel), Flums mask group since 1954 © Schnitzer: Hugo Reichlin, Flums
  • «Wiigeischt», mask group from Walenstadt in existence since 1998 © Schnitzer: Max Tschus, Walenstadt
  • «Sardona-Tüüfel» (Sardona devil), mask group from Pfäfers in existence since 2003 © Schnitzer: Max Tschus, Walenstadt
  • «Dr Tüüfel» (the devil), individual mask © Schnitzer: Marcus Deflorin, Flums, 2006
  • «S’Zahnärztli» (the dentist), fantasy mask © Schnitzer: Bruno Bless, Flums, 2007
  • «Der Löwe», (the lion), fantasy mask © Schnitzerin: Heidi Walter, Reichenburg, Kanton Schwyz, 2011
  • Popular justice with self-appointed criminal judge at the Flums street carnival. Around 1930.
  • Street carnival around 1927
  • Flums street carnival with a group of masked participants in used 'Huttlen', 1913

Video

Sarganserland mask museum Flums © TVO AG, Tele Ostschweiz, St. Gallen, 2012

References and documentation

Publications
  • Albert Bärtsch: Sarganserländer Holzmasken. Fasnachtsbrauchtum. Mels, 1990

  • Albert Bärtsch: Holzmasken. Fastnachts- und Maskenbrauchtum in der Schweiz, in Süddeutschland und Österreich. Aarua, 1993

  • Alois Senti: Das Land in Fest und Brauch. In: Sarganserland 1483-1983. Ed. Sargangserländer Talgemeinschaft. Mels, 1983, p. 233-290

Documentation