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

Venetian costumes and Masks

Between the most traditional Venetian costumes and Masks we find the Bauta, a white mask covering almost the whole face, with a black cloak and a tricorn hat. This mask was very popular in Venice and was worn both by men and women because it guaranteed total anonymity as it allowed the wearer to eat and drink without having to remove the mask.

Bauta - venetian mask

Another traditional mask was the moretta, an oval mask of black velvet with a veil that was usually worn by women visiting convents and was attached to the woman's face thanks to a button held between the teeth.

The Mattacino is another typical mask of Venice. He is a sort of clown, dressed in white or multi-colored, famous for firing "perfumed eggs" from slingshots to the people who was passing in the street.

classic venetian mask

Traditional Venetian masks But the mask found its official consecration in the theatres: with the 16th century theatre, and later with the most famous Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni, some of the most popular characters of the Commedia dell'Arte, the italian popular form of improvisational theater, also called "comedy of humors", became actual stereotypes, perfectly reflecting Venetian society.
Between the primary Commedia dell'Arte characters we find Pantalone, the rich and miserly merchant, Arlecchino, a funny peasant and illiterate character, acrobat and clown, always dressed with a colorful clothing, Colombina, the maidservant and eternal lover of Arlecchino, and Pulcinella, another comic servant character, as Arlecchino, typical of Naples.


Nowadays Venetian masks re-emerged as the emblem of the Venice Carnival and most of them are made in gesso with a gold leaf and are all hand-painted or decorated with natural feathers and gems.
During the modern Carnival Saint Mark's Square and the other main campi of Venice become the perfect stages for those who wish to be, at least for a few hours a year, protagonists of another life.
In fact, during the last days of Carnival, Venice teems with people wearing all kind of masks and disguises, happily invading streets and squares in search of fun: it’s possible to meet every kind of costume, from the 18th century noblewomen, to the most inventive and creative personalised modern costumes.

There are many types of venetian masks

So what is it that inspired the Venetians to wear masks in times gone by. I wouldn’t mind betting that it was a cover up for when they were getting up to no good.

Well lets just take a sneek peek into the history of the Venetian Mask.

Venetian masks have a long and interesting history. Originally citizens of every rank and station wore them so that they could communicated freely and openly with any member of society, without fear of reprisal or recrimination.

It was  thought that by hiding a wearer’s identity every party was able to conduct business on an equal level. The lowliest servant could speak with a lord directly and honestly. Of course what starts out as a good idea often has it’s own pitfalls. The Venetian mask was no exception.

While it may have sounded like a good idea at the time the masks quickly became a tool during times of debauchery and promiscuity. It’s simply amazing what people will get up to when their identity is concealed. While wearing a mask they were free  to  conduct themselves in the most outrageous manner.  This led to a freer and more open society. And of course the church took umbrage with this and soon issued an edict outlawing the wearing of masks.


It was too late though, the masks were popular, and so the church relented and allowed the wearing of them between the day after Christmas and the day before Lent.

What has this evolved into? The typical Mardi Gras mask! The flamboyant decorations of today owe their roots to a societal attempt at equality. One could argue that the mask still serves the same purpose that it did centuries ago. All one has to do is checkout a Mardi Gras parade to see revelers in masks behaving in ways you would never expect were they showing their faces and could be recognized.

premium-venetian-tri-color-maskThere are many types of masks and each has a particular significance. Some are full faced and others are half masks, then there are the colombina, jester and the long nosed Zanni, Scaromouche and many others  all with stories behind their development.

True Venetian masks are absolute works of art. Venetian artisans craft elaborate masks with jewels, folded paper, faux fur, feathers and all manner of accouterments,  and there will definitely be one to suit you.  They range in size from very small intricate masks to very large wall or meant to be worn masks.

There are many types of venetian masks

The next time your travels take you through Venice take some time out to check out some of the this beautiful craftwork and pick up one for yourself? It will make a great decoration for the home or as part of a costume the next time you attend a masquerade ball.

Venetian masks – Part 1

When you cover your face with your hands, peeking out from between your fingers, or screw up your face into a parody of itself, you become, for the briefest of moments, someone else. You’re recreating the oldest masks in history; ones that, from the beginning of time, have protected concealed, frightened, or delighted all humankind.
Throughout the ages, masks have starred in Greek drama, sent men roaring down the warpath, summoned otherworldly spirits, and figured in initiation, healing, and funereal rites. Masks have also masked a multiplicity of duplicity.
For centuries, La Serenissima, The Most Serene Republic of Venice, controlled sea trade between Europe and the East. Venetian masks
venetian masks 3
This wealthy port city, bustling with people from near and far, hosted an array of attractions, gambling dens, musical performances, acrobatic shows, wine shops, and brothels. It was also a whirlpool of crime, illicit encounters, and intrigue.
As far back as the 11th century, masks, worn during the pre-Lenten Carnival of Venice and other periods, allowed people from all walks of life to mingle freely. Stripped of their identifying features, courtesans and commoners, princes and priests, all could dilly or dally as the mood moved them. By the mid 1400s, disguises had become such an integral part of the Venetian way of life that mask makers followed their own laws and were awarded their own guild. With the fall the Republic of Venice in 1798, however, the Carnival fell into decline.
Today, thanks to a group of enterprising Venetian art students, the Carnival of Venice has been born anew. Once again merrymakers wander the city’s streets in fanciful disguises. Most modern Venetian artists create masks using time honored, traditional techniques. They fill traditionally-shaped hand-sculpted clay molds with chalky gesso, forming a negative image, the mask itself. Then they plaster the gesso with papiér-mâche and adorn their creations.
The classic v-shaped Bauta mask, combined with a long robe, a cloak, and a three-cornered hat, offers complete anonymity. Though it covers the entire face, its tilted chin skims the mouth, allowing its wearer to eat, drink, speak, and socialize with ease.
venetian masks
The gnaga, a cat mask, was once reserved for young men disguised as women. These tomcats were known for their vulgarity. In fact, the more vulgar their speech, typically uttered in anonymous falsettos, the more the crowds crowed. Gnagas who prowl Venice today, however, both male and female, are far tamer.
The volto, another traditional mask, covers the entire face. Its wide, rounded surface allows artists any number of expressions and embellishments. Venetian masks Variations on the basic volto, masks that cover one eye and half the face, or just the upper portion of the face, are also popular.
The Columbina eye mask, available in a rainbow of colors, immortalizes clever, crafty Columbine, a stock character of Italy’s Commedia dell’arte, the “art of comedy.” Then like now, Commedia dell’arte traveling troupes appeared in open town squares, delighting crowds with acrobatic tricks, music, bouts of jugglery, and buffoonery. They also presented improvised slapstick skits depicting universal themes like jealousy, adultery, and love.
venetian masks 1
Mischievous Harlequin is another Commedia character immortalized in masks. The signature, multi-colored diamond shaped patterns that grace his costume regularly appear on bautas, voltos, and columbinas. Beloved Pierrot, charming in loose, white pantaloons and neck ruff, often appears in full-face masks, an expressive tear coursing down his cheek. Roguish Pulcinella, whose hooked nose almost meets his chin, is another familiar Carnival sight. So is black-clad, scheming Scaramouche, whose nose is longer still.
Commedia aside, masked noses also figured prominently during the 1629 scourge of Venice, the black plague. Since disease was then thought to be airborne, masks, it was believed, could ward off pestilence. When tending the sick, plague doctors protected themselves with bizarre, birdlike masks that were nearly all nose. These primitive gas masks, stuffed with aromatic spices or herbs like rosemary, garlic, and juniper, performed two functions. Besides reputedly averting evil vapors, they also masked the stench of affliction. One wonders whether these courageous healers, whose costumes also included wide-rimmed hats, red evil-repellent spectacles, high boots, and waxed outer garments, actually saved any poor souls. The very sight of them must have scared people to death.
In any case, “descendants” of these grim harbingers of doom plague the byways of Venice yet again. Today nearly, every street in Venice boasts a host of mask shops. Many modern artists continue Venetian tradition, creating classic masks like the bauta and the columbina in classical styles and colors. Others, courting collectors and many thousands of tourists, transform traditional shaped masks into decidedly non-traditional characters. So nowadays, staid Pierrots and Pulchinellas hobnob with a hodge-podge of Aztec princesses, ferocious pirates, horned Beelzebubs, jolly jestors, and jealous Jezebels.
venetian masks
Venetian artists typically embellish their new age creations with a lavish hand. Even the simplest styles boast a profusion of bright primary colors. Some masks are treated to simulate multi-colored leather or antique porcelain. Others, celebrating the Venice of Vivaldi, feature musical themes, either swirls of written melodies, part of the designs themselves, or tiny, tinkling bells tickling their perimeters. Some creations, winged like soaring doves, are more headdresses than masks. Others incorporate fanciful hats into their designs. Sprays of feathers, outlandish in both hue and height, add whiffs of fantasy to many a confection. Venetian masks Fine gold and silver leaf, too, is everywhere, sparkling lacy curlicues, icing intricate design work, and accenting masks’ ruffles. The most elaborate masks, many one-of-a-kind, boast dazzling combinations of beads, trinkets, sequins, crystals, and rhinestones, even real gemstones.
But let the buyer beware. Since Venetian-style masks flood the market, collectors are advised to request certificates authenticating that their purchases are handmade by specific artists in Venice. Venetian masks, whether displayed on walls, proffered as gifts, or treasured as souvenirs, have many lives. And imagine arriving at a special occasion, party, or theatrical event, masked. What fun! For the briefest of moments, you’re someone else.

Venetian masks – Part 1

How to make Venetian Mask

  1. Step 1

    Draw out the ideal final design you want for your Venetian mask, paying attention to what colors and decorations you would like to use. It's better to start with a mapped-out plan so that you will know what tools you will need, and to eliminate any possible mistakes.

  2. Step 2

    Cut the mask with the X-Acto knife to the shape of your liking if your design calls for a less-than-full-face mask. Venetian masks vary in shape and size, from full face masks to those that simply cover the eyes.

  3. Step 3

    Paint the mask in the base color you've chosen, or you can leave the mask white. Draw your design idea onto the mask using pencil. Remember that there is no traditional design for a Venetian mask; some are symmetrical with swirls and bursts around the eyes, while others may be heavily designed on one side with the other side left bare.

  4. Step 4

    Paint your design in the colors of your choosing, using latex acrylic paint. One idea to help give the mask a rustic Venetian look is to employ gold or silver leaf foil, which you can buy at most craft stores. This foil is adhered to a surface and, when pulled back, leaves behind tiny flakes of gold, creating a lavish and intricate look. When you are done, wait for the paint or foil to dry before continuing.

  5. Step 5

    How to make Venetian Mask

    Adhere any embellishments to the mask with superglue. Venetian masks can be embellished with anything from feathers, gemstones and tassles to buttons and fabric. Puff paint is also a good embellishment tool; use it to trace over your design outline to give a textured, 3-D look. You can also use feathers on one or both sides of your mask. Costume gemstones are great to line around your mask, or design, to add flair. Many Venetian masks also have fabric lining the borders of the mask, or implemented into the design. Let any glue or paint dry completely before wearing.

Venetian Masks – the creation


  1. Venetian masks were first made in Venice, Italy, beginning around the start of the medieval period.


  2. Venetian masks are made from a papier-mache base, and are then decorated in a variety of ways. These accouterments can include paint in wild colors, beads, jewels, feathers and even fur. deluxe_carnival_masks_m512


  3. The original purpose of the Venetian mask was to provide its wearer with anonymity. During a time of religious and moral persecution where communities were small and neighbors often knew each other, Venetian masks were worn when people wanted to pursue less than moral activities such as gambling, drinking, dancing or engaging in promiscuous sex.

    Modern Uses

  4. Venetian masks held on as times changed, and have since become a symbol of Carnevale festivals. Though this celebration of hedonism fell out of favor during the Enlightenment, it was officially re-introduced in 1979.


  5. There are a number of different Venetian masks, from the Bauta (a full-face, heavily gilded mask with no mouth line), to the more famous Columbino (a half mask which is attached to a stick that is held up to the face). There are more types, including Harlequin pattern of checkered black and white, and masks with huge noses and pursed lips.
Venetian Masks – the creation

Face Masks Venetian Carnival

Masks are an essential feature of iL Carnevale di Venezia. Venice's Carnival began in the 11th century, and the wearing of masks and costumes was well established by 1436, when mask makers or Mascereri were officially recognised with their own guild.


The practise of wearing masks for disguise reached its peak in the 18th century when Venetians of different social classes used Carnevale as an excuse to mingle and, in some case, to make sexual favours without fear of recognition or retribution.

The mask was always worn over a black hood with a black Tricorn Hat, along with a long black cape to give the maximum degree of disguise. Venetian masks Worn all year round by the Venetian upper classes, The Bauta was the most popular of disguises during Carnevale.

Face Masks Venetian Carnival

Venetian masks continue to dazzle tourists, dancers, and pageant participants during Carnevale and year round

Recognizable types of Venetian masks continue to dazzle tourists, dancers, and pageant participants during Carnevale and year round. The Bauta mask covers the whole face, with a stubborn chin line, no mouth, and lots of gilding. A half-mask with gold and silver stripes and jeweled eyes is called a Columbino that you hold up to your face with an attached stick. Other popular shapes include large, hooked noses, black and white checkered diamonds called a Harlequin pattern, and bright red, pursed lips. Wearing Venetian masks has spread to Halloween masquerade balls and what North and South Americans call Mardi Gras, but they always carry their rich Italian history. http://www.testq.com/nfs/testq/photos/0013/9917/venetian_masks.jpg

Venetian masks have a long history of protecting their wearer's identity during promiscuous or decadent activities. Venetian masks Made for centuries in Venice, these distinctive masks  were formed from papier-mache and wildly decorated with fur, fabric, gems, or ribbons. Eventually, Venetian  masks re-emerged as the emblem of Carnevale, a pageant and street fair celebrating hedonism. http://www.hickerphoto.com/data/media/183/venetian-masks-venice_12326.jpg

Venetian masks emerged in a climate of cultural and religious repression during the Medieval era in Italy. People donned the colorful masks to free themselves from judging neighbors, all of whom knew each other in such a small city. The gentry class and peasants alike sought anonymity for promiscuity, gambling, and other indiscretions. Even the clergy were known to dress up to go dancing.

After the 1100s, the masquerade went through periods of being outlawed by the Catholic Church, especially during holy days. Their policy lead to eventual acceptance when they declared the months between Christmas and Shrove Tuesday free for Venetian mask-attired decadence. This period evolved into Carnevale, the pre-Lent celebration meaning, "remove meat."? Although Carnevale lost popularity as Venice's cultural production faltered during the Enlightenment, it was officially reintroduced in 1979. 

Authentic Wearable Paper Mache Venetian Masks from VenetianMasks.usThe modern celebration of Carnevale has reinvigorated the art and craft of making Venetian masks. The traditional method involves sculpting a form out of clay as a base for the mask. Most masks are made from papier-mache, a sticky paste made from paper strips and glue. This plaster material is layered over the base, dries, and gets removed to form the basic mask. The fun part comes when the craftsperson paints designs in gold, silver, royal purple, sunny yellow, and other bright colors. Further decorations include sequins, silk ribbons, exotic bird feathers, faux fur, rhinestones, leather, gold charms, glitter, and any other outlandish trinkets.

Venetian masks continue to dazzle tourists, dancers, and pageant participants during Carnevale and year round