The history behind Venetian masks
The history behind Venetian masks comes from the past and continues into the present day. Over time, Venetian masks have become more and more beautiful and elaborate, and continue to fascinate people all over the world.
But instead of their fame, maybe not everyone knows their history. What about you? Would you like to find out more about the history behind these masterpieces?
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What is the origin of Venetian masks?
The origin of Venetian masks dates back to the Middle Ages when people started to reunite and celebrate together dressing up with masks and flashy clothes. Gradually it became even more popular and institutionalized by the Republic of Venice, reaching its peak during the Carnival of Venice. But that is not all!
During the period of the Venetian Republic, people used to wear masks for many months throughout the year and not only to celebrate Carnival. In fact, Venetian masks were also used as a “precaution” in risky business, such as gambling or shady exchanges between merchants and smugglers.
Lastly, throughout their history, Venetian masks were also used by the Venetian Republic as a way to let people’s tensions go without letting them escalate into extreme episodes. That is because according to Venetian laws nobody wearing a mask could be arrested if they played according to the mask’s character.
Nowadays, thanks to their beauty and fashion, Venetian masks are widely used by anyone in the world to celebrate with fun and joy every kind of masquerade event: from Carnival to New Year’sEve!
How many types of Venetian masks are there?
As you can imagine, there are many types of Venetian masks and that is mainly because the Carnival of Venice is an ancient tradition and over time new masks have been added.
Some are related to significant events, others to famous people of the past, and some are simply fictional characters. Over time, these masks have become increasingly famous and today they are known all over the world.
To simplify it is possible to divide some of the most famous types of traditional Venetian masks into two main groups. Let’s have a look at them!
Commedia dell’Arte masks
Commedia dell’Arte, “Comedy of Art” in English, is a form of comedy that involves the use of masks and was very popular, especially in Italy during the Renaissance. In this “theatre of masks”, every character used to wear a specific mask and play according to their personality. These are some of the most famous!
There is the Colombina mask which represents a graceful and lively servant girl, always at the center of amorous intrigues. It is perfect to highlight grace and femininity. Another famous mask is Pulcinella: which originated in Naples and has become one of most loved along with the Pantalone and Arlecchino mask.
Have a look at some of our Colombina mask models!
Colombina Fully Feathered
Colombina with half Butterfly and Stick
The ancient mask of the Colombina, which covers only the part of the eyes, is enriched with an handle and golden metal applications that represent a butterfly wing surrounded by rhinestone expertly applied one by one by expert hands.
Other traditional masks of Carnival of Venice
Over time, many other Venetian masks have been developed coming from the habits and traditions of Venetian citizens and some of them are among the most popular in the world!
There is the Plague doctor mask which comes from the mask worn by Venetian doctors during the Plague, in order to visit their patients and avoid being infected.
Another one is the Jolly mask which embodies the fun and madness of the jester.
There are many others then such as the Gnaga mask which comes from the love of Venetians for their cats and the Bauta mask which was largely used to hide someone’s identity but enable them to talk and eat easily.
Have a look at some of our traditional masks of Venice Carnival!
Plague Doctor Mask with Drawing of Doctor Itself
Who created Venetian masks and how?
Venetian masks were mainly crafted by specialized workers, called “maschereri”, or mask makers as they are known. They used to work in special craft workshops where masks of all shapes and sizes were created!
Nowadays, these expert mask masters create masterpieces by continuing to use traditional techniques and materials.
For instance, Venezia Maschere carries on a tradition of more than half a century in the art of making Venetian masks. They are all hand-made and 100% certificate Made in Italy. Buying them you make sure to bring home a real piece of Venice!