Paznaun has always been renowned for its skillful craftsmen. Tables, wooden figures and frames are still artfully created by hand here today. A series presenting Paznaun’s craftsmen and women.
Part 1: Josef Zauser, the wood carver.

When Josef Zauser unlocks his workshop in Ischgl, there are a dozen holy figures waiting for him inside. Mary and Joseph, Pope Francis and his two predecessors, the Three Kings and Jesus, of course, in all shapes and colours. In one version he is as small as a fingernail, in another, he’s life-size. Everything began with Jesus, says Josef Zauner. He was fifteen when he carved his first figure of Jesus on the cross – with a blunt pocket knife, naturally. 55 years have passed since then, and barely a day has gone by when Josef Zauser hasn’t reached for his knife.

Zauser studied in the carving studio of well-known sculptor Rudolf Geisler-Moroder in Tyrolean Lechtal, and he’s also partly to thank for the fact that Zauser’s pieces look like three-dimensional Baroque works of art. He carved for more than 1 200 hours to complete his most elaborate work, which is entitled “Homecoming of the Victor” and is a copy of an oil painting by Franz von Defregger. Zauser says that he prefers to carve art works like this, inspired by the oil paintings of great painters. “When you work at something for so long, it isn’t just a piece of work, it’s a life work,” he says.
Despite this, the holy figures are still his bestsellers. Russian tourists particularly like the figures of Jesus and Mary. The Germans, on the other hand, buy nativity scene figures.  That’s how it is, says Zauser, everyone likes something different, but they all agree on the holy figures.

Josef Zauser comes from Kappl and has worked as an independent wood carver in Ischgl since 1972. His workshop and his shop can be found right next to the village café. You can find Josef Zauser there every week day.
Josef Zauser Kunstschnitzerei,
Tel 0650 8861517
Ischgl Persuttweg, 14
Mon–Fri 14:00 to 18:00