Aron Klein Gets Face-to-Face with Bulgaria's Demon Chasers


In places as culturally blended as the United States, traditional folklore and customs are often only passed down within the confines of specific homes and small groups with similar beliefs. Countries who haven't lost their ancient stories and practices over time–whether it be from colonization, war, or natural disasters– often have elaborate rituals and costumes to match the intricate tales they've held onto. One such practiced ceremony that has transcended time is the pagan practice, "kukeri," used to scare off evil spirits in the Balkan Mountains.  After spending some time in the area, London-based photographer Aron Klein worked amidst the snow-ladden grounds of Bulgaria to capture the masked-adorned figures in a surreal visual compilation.

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Dubbed the Kukeri Project, Klein's seemingly ethereal imagery shows off characters from the folk tales in the flesh (well, in the flesh and blanketed with giant, decorated outfits beautifully embellished and harnessed with tools to chase off demons). As mentioned on his Instagram, the series tells the visual story of, "Where the wild things are. The Kukeri project documents Bulgaria’s demon chasers. An ancient pagan tradition from the rural mountain villages of the Balkans." Scroll below and find yourself face-to-face with the furry, tall hat-wearing, one-faced characters of the kukeri tradition below.

Words: Vanessa Feder
Photography: Aron Klein