Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Official Venice Carnival program – 2010 Venitian Masks

SENSATION 2010- 6 senses for 6 sestieri, directed by Marco Balich, will carry you through the most beautiful city in the world, revolutionising your every feeling. From February 6 until February 16, Venice becomes the kingdom of his majesty the Carnival 2010. Venetian masks A Carnival to enjoy Venice in every sense through the power of sight, the joy of touch, the thrills of hearing, the pleasure of taste and the exhilaration of smell.

The Venice Carnival is the most important and largest Venetian festival, a sparkling cocktail of tradition, entertainment, history and transgression in this unique city and a festival that attracts thousands of people from all around the world every year. The Carnival has very old origins, in fact it celebrates the passage from winter into spring, a time when seemingly anything is possible, including the illusion where the most humble of classes become the most powerful by wearing masks on their faces. The official start of the Venice Carnival dates back to 1296, when the Senate of the Republic made the Carnival official with an edict declaring the day before Lent a public holiday.
Venice Carnival
After an interruption lasting almost two centuries, the tradition of Carnival was rediscovered by the Municipality in 1980 and since then it has taken place every year with huge success. The Venice Carnival 2010 shall be a “Sensation” Carnival again: to be heard, to be seen, to be touched, to be tasted and to be imagined.  A new Venice Carnival, concerning the five senses plus one, the mind, thought as the place of the soul: each sense will be located in a Venetian sestiere with the sixth one in St. Mark’s Square directly. Our Hotel Alle Guglie, being in Cannaregio district, shall be in the middle of the sense of “taste” that shall be the focus of the food and beverage events in all the sestiere, with lots of presentations dedicated to the theme along the streets and just in front of our hotel and the Guglie Bridge.
venice-carnaval-venetian-mask-and costume-show
This Carnival format will keep of course the events of its tradition, such as the flight of the Dove, the Feast of the Maries and all the streets and palaces fantastic and exciting parties but will decisively break off with the past as well, with the aim to join the city to all the sensations and feelings of the people. Should you want to have additional information about the Venice Carnival Sensation 2010, fell free to contact our team at the Hotel Alle Guglie; we shall be all more than pleased to provide you with the official program and with our best offer to spend an exciting break in Venice.

2008 Venetian Mask Carnival season 1 - Costumes

This is 2008 Carnival season part of a series about colors. Today we are featuring colors from the incredibly dramatic, ornately crafted and intricately designed costumes and masks of Carnival Venice. The carnival in Venice was first recorded in 1268. The subversive nature of the festival is reflected in the many laws created over the centuries in Italy attempting to restrict celebrations and often banning the wearing of masks.

The colors of the Carnival festival season have been brightening up the streets of cities across the world since Pre-Christian times. While the celebration may not have always included eclectic parades filled with dynamic floats and street performers, Carnival has become a global celebration that extends beyond its religious roots crossing cultural and political divides.

    Venetian masks have always been a central feature of the Venetian carnival; traditionally people were allowed to wear them between the festival of Santo Stefano (St. Stephen's Day, December 26) at the start of the carnival season and midnight of Shrove Tuesday. As masks were also allowed during Ascension and from October 5 to Christmas, people could spend a large proportion of the year in disguise. Mask makers (mascareri) enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild.
    Venetian masks can be made in leather or with the original papier-mache technique. The original masks were rather simple in design and decoration. They often had a symbolic and practical function. Nowadays, most of them are made with the application of gesso and gold leaf and are all hand-painted using natural feathers and gems to decorate. Most masks sold in the tourist shops in Venice have nothing to do with the original Venetian masks.   


    Bauta is a "mask which covers the whole face, with a stubborn chin line, no mouth, and lots of gilding". One may find masks sold as Bautas that cover only the upper part of the face from the forehead to the nose and upper cheeks, thereby concealing identity but enabling the wearer to talk and eat or drink easily. It tends to be the main type of mask worn during the Carnival. It was used also on many other occasions as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status. It would permit the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and everyday convention. It was thus useful for a variety of purposes, some of them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic encounters.

    Venetian masks The moretta is an oval mask of black velvet that was usually worn by women visiting convents. It was invented in France and rapidly became popular in Venice as it brought out the beauty of feminine features. The mask was finished off with a veil.
2008 Venetian Mask Carnival season 1 - Costumes

    An inspiration for the carnival lies in the fact that during Lent, traditionally no parties may be held and many foods, such as meat, are forbidden; the forty days of Lent serve to commemorate the Passion of Jesus. It is natural for people to have the desire to hold a large celebration at the last possible opportunity before fasting.
    The larva, also called the volto mask, is mainly white, and typically Venetian. It is worn with a tricorn and cloak. It is thought the word "larva" comes from the Latin meaning "mask" or "ghost". It is easy to imagine the effect of a Venetian all dressed in black with a white mask and a black tricorn, going past in the moonlight. Like the bauta, the shape of the mask allowed the bearer to breathe and drink easily, and so there was no need to take it off, thus preserving anonymity. These masks were made of fine wax cloth and so were much lighter and were not irritating to wear making them ideal for eating, dancing and flirting.


    Parts of the carnival traditions, however, likely reach back to pre-Christian times. The ancient Roman festival of the Saturnalia is a probable origin of the Italian Carnival. The Saturnalia, in turn, may be based on the Greek Dionysia and Oriental festivals. While medieval pageants and festivals such as Corpus Christi were church sanctioned celebrations, carnival was a representation of medieval folk culture. Many local carnival customs are also based on local pre-Christian rituals, for example the elaborate rites involving masked figures in the Swabian-Alemannic carnival.

    In Christianity, the most famous traditions, including parades and masquerading, are first attested from medieval Italy. The carnival of Venice was for a long time the most famous carnival. From Italy, carnival traditions spread to Spain, Portugal, and France. From France, they spread to the Rhineland of Germany, and to New Orleans. From Spain and Portugal, they spread to Latin America. Many other areas have developed their own traditions.

Original Venetian masks the symbol of transgression and freedom

From the early 14th century, new restrictive laws started to be promulgated by the Venice Government, to stop the relentless moral decline of the Venetian people. This carnival legislation proscribed masqueraders at night, forbade men from entering convents dressed as women to commit "multas inhonestates" and forbade masqueraders from carrying arms or entering churches. To restore morality in Venice and to avoid the incentive of immoral behavior of its citizens, the Republic obliged them to wear a mask only during the days of carnival and at official banquets.

The original Venetian masks were rather simple in design and decoration and they often had a symbolic and practical function. Venetian masks were used to hide and protect their wearer's identity during promiscuous or decadent activities, but they became also the symbol of transgression and freedom from the severe social rules imposed by the Serenissima Republic.
Venetian masks were often used to protect gamblers from giving away indiscrete looks, especially to avoid their creditors, or by "barnaboti" noblemen who went banrupt, begging on street corners.
venetian mask and costume festival

Masks were allowed from the day after Christmas, which marked the beginning of the Venetian Carnival, to Shrove Tuesday which marked its end, but were forbidden during religious feasts. As well as during the Carnival period, Venetians wore masks during the fortnight of the Ascension, and ended up wearing it, with a few exceptions, half-way through June. During all major events, such as official banquets or other celebrations of the Serenissima Republic, was permitted  to wear a mask and a cloak.

The history of masks and the Carnival's laws The use of masks by both Venetians and foreign visitors during Carnival, created a demand for masks and consequently contributed to the evolution of the figure of the mask-makers, mascareri, registered artisans who created and sold masks in papier-mache.
Masks were produced for centuries in Venice by the mascareri and still today are made from papier-mache, in many different colors and styles and decorated with fur, fabric, gems, or ribbons.

Original Venetian masks the symbol of transgression and freedom