With a great deal of dedication and craftsmanship, the East Tyrol-based Oberschneider family from Matrei adapted the so-called “Bäckenstadl” into a museum, and turned the historic building in the village centre into an exhibition platform and stage for a display focussing on an ancient local tradition.
A pivotal East Tyrolean custom is presented to both visitors to the Tauern area and to locals alike to enjoy. A “Klaubauf” (also known as a “Krampus”) is a terrifying companion of Saint Nicholas. He wears a fur coat and a hideous mask, and makes a lot of noise with the bells that he carries. “Klaubaufgehen” is an ancient, pre-Christian ritual, the purpose of which is to keep evil spirits out of homes and the local area. It involves wearing masks, making a lot of noise, and lots of rowdy behaviour. While the Catholic Church could not completely forbid this firmly rooted tradition, it managed to move these satanic goings-on to the beginning of December, and to turn Saint Nicholas into a Christian symbol, therefore suppressing the pagan aspect. That hasn’t stopped “Klaubaufgehen” from remaining a wild spectacle to this day, though! The festival is a big deal in Matrei – everyone in the village takes part, and it is an unforgettable experience for visitors.
A permanent exhibition in the Klaubauf Museum, which opened in 2016, tells the story of this custom – from its beginnings to the present day. On display are more than 100 different masks from different eras, produced by virtually all the best-known carvers in the region, as well as plenty of background information, sketches and photos. As well as the masks, robes and bells (the latter of which a “Klaubauf” wears on his back), are on show.
On the one hand, the purpose of the Klaubauf Museum is to provide information. On the other hand, it is a concrete platform where the past and present can successfully meet, and an old tradition can therefore be revived. In addition, it should also fuel excitement for the next Klaubauf festival in December.