Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Alessandra Meniconzi: The Roitschäggätä

Photo © Alessandra Meniconzi -All Rights Reserved

Photo © Alessandra Meniconzi -All Rights Reserved

Alessandra Meniconzi's work has graced the pages of The Travel Photographer blog on many occasions, with photographs of far-away and remote areas of the world, however she sent me some of new work made in her back-yard. Yes, literally in her back-yard in Switzerland, although when I first viewed the photographs, I took them to be from Mongolia or even perhaps Papua New guinea.

But not at all...these were made in the villages of the Lötschental valley. It's the largest valley on the northern side of the Rhône valley in the canton of Valais in Switzerland, which lies in the Bernese Alps.

The masks are worn by the Roitschäggätä, who are unmarried young men from Lötschental villages who hide behind handmade wooden masks and are clad in fur, scaring passersby and playing pranks.

Starting as early as February 2, this tradition has been repeatedly prohibited by the Church, but without much success. The Roitschäggätä roam through the valley on Maundy Thursday, while there is a masked parade in the village of Wiler on the Saturday prior to Ash Wednesday.