The History of Venetian Masks: Fact Sheet



Venetian masks are a 700-year- old tradition originating from the balls held in the Italian city of Venice. Made in many strange designs and elaborately decorated – the doll-like masks protected the wearers’ anonymity – luring the revellers into nights of decadence and debauchery.

How it all started:

It was tradition since the 13th century for people of Venice to hold festivities wearing elaborate masks and costumes the day after Christmas on the 26th December and ending the celebration at the beginning of Lent.

The legend continues:

The carnival ( Carnevale di Venezia ) ended in a big street party known as the Mardi Gras “Fat Tuesday” and is still popular today.

The secret to the masks’ popularity:

Since the masks disguised peoples’ identities the parties were the only time lower classes could mingle with the upper class – aristocrats and peasants played out their fantasies together.

Masks picked by the Gentlemen:

Medico Della Peste “Plague Doctor” – a mask with a long beak, originally made to keep substances and aromas thought to keep the deathly plague away from a physician.

Bauta – a square white mask covering most of the face that sticks out under the nose leaving the mouth free for eating and drinking. Legend is 16th century serial seducer Giacomo Casanova wore this mask.

Masks popular with the Ladies:

Moretta – a black velvet oval mask made for a woman, held into place by a button clenched in between her teeth.

Columbina “Little Dove” – a pretty half face painted mask often adorned with feathers and beads.

Volto “ Larva” – a full-faced mask also worn by men, usually white and sometimes painted with gold patterns.

The antiquated and surreal mystery of the masks endure and  in recent years given a notorious reputation by the Stanley Kubrick movie  “Eyes Wide Shut”.

Words: Jameela Oberman

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Comments
One Response to “The History of Venetian Masks: Fact Sheet”
  1. mac says:

    There are some interesting points in time in this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as well

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