18 Pagan Masquerades from Europe

(Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis)

These aren't mutant ewoks. They're Kukeri--ceremonial protectors from Bulgaria who annually drive out evil spirits. On January 23, men don these elaborate, hairy costumes and set about the task of combating dark forces (note the red swords that look like light sabers) in order to protect the fertility of their towns.

The Kukeri are one of many wild men of Europe--old pagan shamanistic traditions that endure to this day. Photographer Charles Fréger, who previously showed us the painted elephants of India, explores this continent-wide tradition in his book Wilder Mann: The Image of the Savage. You can see photos of 18 of these wild men at Flashbak.

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