Tschäggättä


Category:
Traditional craftsmanship
  • Oral expressions
  • Performing arts
  • Social practices
Canton:

Description

Tschäggättä, carnival figures typical to the Lötschental region, are instantly recognisable due to their carved wooden masks, mostly made from Swiss pine, their animal pelts (goat or sheep skin), and the bell that hangs from their belt. From 3 February – the day after Candlemas – to midnight on Shrove Tuesday, they rampage through the village streets in pursuit of women and children. Once caught, the Tschäggättä rub their icy gloves over the faces of their victims. The economic and social development of the valley since the 1950s have transformed this tradition from a courtship ritual practised solely by local bachelors. Today, married men, women and children also don the masks, skins and bells of the Tschäggättä.

As the result of the popularity of the Lötschental as a winter tourist destination, the Tschäggättä have lost some of their wild, carnival spirit and now tend to parade in an orderly fashion through the local villages. Now synonymous with the region, the Tschäggättä have become a major attraction for visitors and the media, both national and international. However, their symbolic role raises the question of how representative they are of the region and what criteria should be used to judge their authenticity. Yet, these tensions have a positive effect by helping to ensure that the tradition is kept alive and passed down to the next generation.

Image gallery

  • "Tschäggättä", Wiler, 2005 © Hans Kalbermatten/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • "Tschäggättä" parade, Wiler, 2009 © Rita Kalbermatten/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • "Tschäggättä", Blatten, 2004 © Lothar Berchtold/Walliser Bote
  • A group of "Tschäggättä", Kipel, circa 1930 © Emil Schmid Binz/ Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • Night-time procession, Blatten, 2004 © Lothar Berchtold/Walliser Bote
  • "Tschäggättä" and “Maschgi”, circa 1920-1930 © Albert Nyfeler/ Médiathèque Valais, Martigny
  • Two "Tschäggättä", circa 1900 © Friedrich Gottlieb Stebler/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • Collection of masks in the Heinrich Rieder’s “Maskenkeller”, Wiler © Hans Kalbermatten/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • Workshop of sculptor Oskar Ebiner, Ferden, 2004 © Hans Kalbermatten/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • Swiss Railways advertisement, 2007 © SBB/Collection Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • "Tschäggättä", Wiler, 2005 © Hans Kalbermatten/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • "Tschäggättä" parade, Wiler, 2009 © Rita Kalbermatten/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • "Tschäggättä", Blatten, 2004 © Lothar Berchtold/Walliser Bote
  • A group of "Tschäggättä", Kipel, circa 1930 © Emil Schmid Binz/ Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • Night-time procession, Blatten, 2004 © Lothar Berchtold/Walliser Bote
  • "Tschäggättä" and “Maschgi”, circa 1920-1930 © Albert Nyfeler/ Médiathèque Valais, Martigny
  • Two "Tschäggättä", circa 1900 © Friedrich Gottlieb Stebler/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • Collection of masks in the Heinrich Rieder’s “Maskenkeller”, Wiler © Hans Kalbermatten/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • Workshop of sculptor Oskar Ebiner, Ferden, 2004 © Hans Kalbermatten/Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel
  • Swiss Railways advertisement, 2007 © SBB/Collection Lötschentaler Museum, Kippel

References and documentation

Publications
  • Werner Bellwald: Zur Konstruktion von Heimat. Die Entdeckung lokaler «Volkskultur» und ihr Aufstieg in die nationale Symbolkultur. Die Beispiele Hérens und Lötschen (Ethnologische Reihe 5). Sitten, 1997.

  • Maurice Chappaz: Lötschental secret. Les photographies historiques d’Albert Nyfeler. Lausanne, 1975

  • Suzanne Chappaz Wirthner: Les masques du Lötschental. Présentation et discussion des sources relatives aux masques du Lötschental. In : Annales valaisannes vol. 49, Sion, 1974, p. 3-95

  • Suzanne Chappaz Wirthner, Grégoire Mayor: Les Tschäggättä en scène. Débats sur l’esthétique du masque parmi les sculpteurs du Lötschental. ethnographiques.org vol. 18, 2009

  • Karl Meuli : Schweizer Masken. Zürich, 1943

  • Marcus Seeberger: Menschen und Masken im Lötschental. Brig, 1974

Documentation
  • Tschäggättä

    Ausführliche Beschreibung Last modification: 04.07.2012
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