French photographer Charles Fréger has always been fascinated by European tribal traditions. This inspired Fréger to travel around to 21 European countries to capture the costumes and the traditions.
Fréger began his journey in eastern Europe where he says there are many celebrations that mark the arrival of winter. Comparing costumes, each country has its own signifiers that pertain to their local landscape and cultures. Incorporation of animal pelts, branches, horns and bells are a common theme as the countries often create costumes around animal based folklore.
Fréger gives some insight to why so many celebrations are based around humans 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 and animal, which is more exciting than being possessed by a demon”
After his long tour of Europe, Fréger travelled to Japan to photograph the winter and spring celebrations. Japan’s take on tribal celebrations differ in a more theatrical way, and the costumes are based off mythical monsters that are centuries old, along with the traditional folklore.
Overall his work condenses the offbeat and mythical parts of European and Japanese cultures that most people would not have the opportunity to bare witness too. Find more of Fréger's tribal inspired work in his two books “Wilder Mann: The Image of the Savage” and “Yokainoshima: Island of Monsters”.