By MRS. HERBERT VIVIAN.
Amongst the mountains of the little Austrian Duchy of Salzburg dwell peasants who still mingle religion and mythology in a curious jumble and observe many remarkable customs. Perhaps the most extraordinary of their festivals is the Perchten dance, which is performed only at very infrequent intervals. Mrs. Vivian was fortunate enough to witness the latest celebration of this unique function and secure a set of striking photographs.
There is probably not another place in Europe where so many strange customs, survivals of heathen and medieval times, are gathered together in a small tract of country as in the Austrian Duchy of Salzburg. Amongst those wonderful mountains and valleys live peasants who still mingle religion and mythology in a mystic jumble. Folklore attracts me like a magnet, and, therefore, I can scarcely bear to let a summer pass without a visit to such a rich treasure-house of legends and the like. Last year, on my way from Marienbad to the Danube, I stepped aside at Linz and ran down to Salzburg for a day or two. The weather was ideal, the old haunts as fascinating as ever; but, best of all, I discovered that in a few days time a country fair would be held in a village nearby, famed for its loveliness. At this fair both the "beautiful" and the "wild" Perchten would dance their strange dance. I had heard rumors concerning this extraordinary ceremony for years, but as it is only performed at irregular intervals - sometimes of twenty years. I had never yet had the opportunity of seeing it. Every plan and engagement for the near future was ruthlessly thrown aside, and I determined to stay on in Salzburg at any cost.