^ Colonganos. Austis, Sardinia, Italy. All photos by Charles Fréger.



The Wild Man is a legendary creature, son of a bear and a woman, a sort of medieval superman. The tradition of celebrating once a year the return of the Wild Man spreads all over Europe and adapts the myth into different materials and hybrids. Costumes use local plants, hey, tree branches; goat horns, cow horns, bullhorns; bear fur, sheep skulls, twisted deer bones, skins, hair, and gigantic cowbells… Landscape acquires a humanoid dimension through a fiction character that wears portions of its natural surroundings, and dances, scares, swarms around the forest, celebrating a new season, and marking time cycles as a living calendar.

Charles Fréger’s photograph series Wilder Mann compiles a long tradition of European masquerades of outstanding liminal zones at the edge between civilization and wilderness. As he explains, the anthropomorphic figures can be divided into two categories: those who belong to another world and represent a different kind of state or moment of change and transition (the devil, strangers, beggars, madmen, dead men), and those that need to be supplemented by an additional figure and create atypical couples because they represent only half a reality (the beauty and the beast, the human and the animal). Meanwhile, the zoomorphic masks use the most powerful beasts of the area in order to be grateful to the fertility of the soil, fecundity of women or the benignity of weather.



^ Perchten. Werfen, Austria.


Perchten. Werfen, Austria.


^ Souvakari. Banishte, Bulgaria.


^ Wilder. Telfs, Austria.


^ Babugeri. Bansko, Bulgaria.



^ Babugeri. Bansko, Bulgaria.


^ Certi. Nedasov, Czech Republic.

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