One stunning example is the “Imster Schemenlaufen”, and it demands the dedication and passion of a whole city over many months. 900 men – and it is only the men, as elsewhere in Tirol too – are actively involved in the events. They hop, leap, dance, make loud noises and make music throughout the play, as it parades through the streets and gets under the skin. The figures are handed down over the ages, and are elaborately costumed: Shrovetide costumes, wigs, masks, gloves and hats leave barely any part of the skin uncovered. The Imster Schemenlauf is held only every 5 years, with the next one coming up in 2020.
Your gaze is invariably drawn to the masks – highly expressive artistic masterpieces, which are simply beautiful: the mature, striking masculinity of the “Scheller”, with his darker skin-tone, beard and bushy eyebrows, and the light, youthful playfulness of the “Roller” with feminine eyes, rosy cheeks and a smiling mouth are clearly differentiated from one another. Often characterised as the turning-point of the old winter and the young spring, these masked plays probably date back to the Baroque love of games and the masquerades performed by the church and the nobility, which have since been adopted by the regular citizens and farmers.