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.
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.
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.
The 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