In a recent interview, French photographer Charles Fréger revealed that he has always been fascinated by European tribal traditions.
Here’s more from Fréger about why so many of these celebrations often involve a human masquerading as an animal:
It is not about being possessed by a spirit but it is about jumping voluntarily in the skin of an animal. You decide to become something else. You chose to become an animal, which is more exciting than being possessed by a demon.
Following his exhaustive tours of Europe, Fréger headed to Japan to photograph both winter and spring celebrations in Japan which showcase the country’s “theatrical” take on their celebratory costumes that have remained intact over the course of many centuries. The images from his travels to Japan reveal mythological “monsters” such as ogres and demons menacingly blending into landscapes, fields and the water or wielding machetes . Fréger’s exploits with international folkloric entities are the subject of two gorgeous books, Wilder Mann: The Image of the Savage, and Yokainoshima: Island of Monsters.
'Festival of Bears', France
'Krampus' costume, Austria
'Lucifer and little devils', Tauplitz, Austria
Pyrenees 'bear' costume