Peluches & Empaillés

In Evolène, the carnival season begins on Epiphany (January 6), when some young people run through the village with large cow bells to announce a special celebration. Then it's the turn of the «peluches» (stuffed animals). These strange creatures, in the form of a cat, fox or wolf, wear untanned chamois, sheep or fox fur and their legs are covered with pieces of hide which they tie with strings. Their heads are covered by wooden masks sculpted by local craftsmen. Alone or following a leader, they move through the village with their bells and frighten passers-by. On Carnival Sunday, the «peluches» are joined by other mysterious creatures, specifically the «empaillés» (scarecrows). The «empaillés» wear jute sacks and masks and carry rice brooms. On Carnival Tuesday, the entire village gets together to burn «poutratse» (old man winter in the local dialect) on a bonfire, a ritual marking the end of winter and heralding the coming of spring.

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