The April 2013 issue of National Geographic contains a fascinating photo-essay by Rachel Shea entitled "Europe's Wild Men." The article briefly discusses a number of folkloristic traditions in which men dress up as monstrous, half-human beings for ritual purposes. That's all fine and dandy, but what really rocks about the piece are the photos (taken by Charles Fréger) that accompany it. Each image depicts a "wild man" from a different region. The picture at this beginning of this post is my favorite: although it looks like Chewbacca with a bad case of megacephaly, it's actually a Bulgarian kuker, a kind of folk exorcist who protects villagers from evil spirits. There are some other great images: the South Tyrolian Schanppviecher, the German Strohmann (mislabeled on the website as an Italian boes), the Scots burryman, and more—all great nightmare fuel, and all wonderful inspirations for new monsters. Check it out!
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