Krampus and the Cary Sheet

le pendu

While I was in London, I came across a book of postcards from Germany and Austria, the postcards date from the early 20th century. The entire book is filled with postcards of Krampus. "Cool", I thought, I'll pull this out next Xmas.

Then I was looking at the Cary Sheet last night and, what do you know, when I looked at the "Devil" card, I saw a distinct relationship to Krampus.

The most obvious connection is the "basket" on Krampus' back which he puts bad children in.

There ARE differences of course, Krampus usually has a switch to beat bad children with, but he sometimes has a pitchfork. Krampus is sometimes shown with one foot and one hoove, which I think is common in Germanic countries. Krampus almost always has his long red tongue hanging out, the Cary devil does not. Krampus is often in chains, Cary devil is not.

Then I was thinking a bit more about it and wondered... how often is the Devil portrayed with a basket on his back? Can anyone point me to some images like that? Is this common throughout Europe? Or is it a Germanic thing?

Are there earlier Tarot depictions of the Devil than ?

Here's the Cary Sheet and 3 postcards from the early 20th century:

carydevil.jpg


krampus1.jpg


krampus2.jpg


krampus3.jpg
 

Huck

Krampus is not German

Hi Robert,

the Krampus seems to be used in countries connected to the Alps, it's not generally German. Suisse, Austria, a little bit Hungary and Croatia, as I've heard.
Perhaps this type of basket was common (or practical) especially in mountain regions? North German parallel figures are called Knecht Ruprecht or the Dutch Swarte Piet (Black Peter - "Schwarzer Peter" is a black cat in a German common card game for children; "dreimal schwarzer Kater" (= "three times black male cat") is part of a "magical formula" in tales or children).

From Lyon to Milan you've to cross the southern parts of the Alps and Suisse mercenaries were involved in the militaric conflicts around Milan at the begin of 16th century. Perhaps this explains the similarity of the Cary-sheet-devil to the Krampus.
 

jmd

I have a painting from a Romanesque church or Cathedral in France that depicts the Devil with a basket on his back, but cannot locate it.

The three images attached, however, also show how he may take and carry his victims, and it is not a huge step to 'add' a grape or apple-growers's reaping basket to his back.

The first is Romanesque, the other two Lumiere ('Gothic').
 

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Namadev

jmd said:
I have a painting from a Romanesque church or Cathedral in France that depicts the Devil with a basket on his back, but cannot locate it.

The three images attached, however, also show how he may take and carry his victims, and it is not a huge step to 'add' a grape or apple-growers's reaping basket to his back.

The first is Romanesque, the other two Lumiere ('Gothic').

Hi JMD

The only one I know of is the Devil of Chartres.
I'll look it up...


Alain
 

Lady Mary

For my daughter (7), Krampus = The Devil in Tarot decks and vice versa. Whenever I get a new deck she demands to see the Krampus. It's her favorite card.

In Austria the Krampus has been quite a prominent figure, but over the years he has lost his horror. I remember tales from my parents when they were children that they were really terrified by the Krampus. (They are in their 70s now.) He used to show up together with St. Nikolaus (5th or 6th December) and punish the bad children, whereas the good children would get sweets from St. Nikolaus.

Groups of older kids would raid the streets and literally put small children in big baskets and beat them up. They also had chains with them. They terrorized the villages on these days. So you definitely better stayed inside.

Now the Krampus hardly ever shows up with St. Nikolaus any more (only in certain alpine villages as a tourist attraction - as "Perchten"), but there are of course still these images, and "bad" kids of all ages would still get a birch (German: Rute) as a warning.

But obviously these images are still so strong that they are present even for little kids like my daughter who never came into any contact with a "Krampus".
 

baba-prague

Lady Mary said:
He used to show up together with St. Nikolaus (5th or 6th December) and punish the bad children, whereas the good children would get sweets from St. Nikolaus.

Groups of older kids would raid the streets and literally put small children in big baskets and beat them up. They also had chains with them. .

This tradition is still alive and well here in Prague, but I've only ever seen the devils carry sacks over their shoulders (perhaps just easier to get hold of sacks than baskets nowadays?) It's mainly older teenagers and people in their early twenties who dress up (superbly well sometimes), and yes, they do pursue shrieking kids up streets and alleyways - but the kids being chased seem to love it. I think it's a little like any "love to be scared" situation. Mostly there is also a good deal of sense about which children are chase-able - the Devils choose mainly older boys whereas the really small children mostly aren't intimidated in any way, but simply get sweets. However I once saw a three year-old burst into horrified tears when a kindly "St Nicholas" asked her if she'd been good!

I've got some quite good photos of all this somewhere, if I get a minute I'll post some.
 

firemaiden

Perhaps this is the REAL meaning of Saint Nicholas and the sack over his shoulder }) :D

Wow, fantastic images, Robert and Jean-Michel. I guess the cathedral images are the oldest. Now we have a idea of the image source for the Cary Sheet.

WOW.
 

Rosanne

I was following up on a comment about Krampus, and came upon a fairytale in a book called 'Fairytales from Around the World'. In was a story about St Nicholas and his companion Krampus. The title said it was a Flemish Tale. What was so interesting was how like Card V the illustration was, with his crozier and Bishop' Mitre and the two young boys watching him ratchet a wheel with scales attached. There was Krampus at his side with his chains and backpack- but no little black imps. Krampus was all hairy with a big red pointed whatever sprouting out his head(not horns). He had one cloven foot and one claw. His tongue was drooling out looking at the two young boys and he had their shoes in his hand. St Nicholas had a book in his hand, and according to the story was hearing the boys prayers and as they answered he turned the ratchet.
There it is- intriguing! Le Pape V- The Wheel X- Le Diable XV. ~Rosanne
 

le pendu

I've been searching from weeks now, and still can't find ANY image of the devil with a basket on his back except for the Cary-Sheet and Krampus.

Anyone have any suggestions or ideas of where to look?

It's driving me kind of crazy.

Any help greatly appreciated.

best,
robert
 

Ross G Caldwell

le pendu said:
I've been searching from weeks now, and still can't find ANY image of the devil with a basket on his back except for the Cary-Sheet and Krampus.

Anyone have any suggestions or ideas of where to look?

It's driving me kind of crazy.

Any help greatly appreciated.

best,
robert

With insights, I can't help. Krampus is a dead ringer for Cary Sheet's Devil. The tradition is alive and well in north-eastern Italy and southern Austria; I don't know anything about its history.

The Cary "Krampus" is so distinctive, could the Sheet be from Austria or Germany, or even Venice? (close to the Krampus center, and a magnet for carnivalesque traditions - this devil might have appealed for some time)

We have to remember that the Cary Sheet comes with no provenance, and no internal clues that have yet been recognized (except maybe for Krampus and the clothing styles). The idea that it comes from Milan around 1500 is entirely dependent on Dummett's belief that the TdM pattern comes from Milan around 1500.