Face mask Wearing in Venice
There was a moment in the history of Venice when Venetians wore masks almost all year round, and not just for special occasions. They were a part of everyday living and became really popular when they started appearing at the Carnival associated with Venice in 1268. They were so popular with people from all walks of life because they allowed the wearer to cover their identity and to mingle with individuals from other classes of society without being known or found out.
The mask-makers, called mascherari, held a very important place in society and were highly skilled at the art of mask making. There was clearly even a mask-makers statute dated ten April 1436 in recognition of the industry, but after several 100 years of Venetian Masks being a lot a part of the culture of Venice, the Senate decreed that face mask wearing would be severely restricted. They believed there was a rise in mask wearing for illicit and unlawful activities and with the culprit being masked it was very difficult to identify them.
Face masks became a thing of children’s celebrations until the Venice Carnival was re-launched in 1979 and suddenly their popularity shot up once again. During the Carnival associated with Venice you’ll see many of the locals plus tourists in Venice wearing Venetian masks of all different kinds, but you can purchase these often exquisite works of art anytime of the year from numerous stores in Venice.
Where to Buy Venetian Masks
Authentic handmade Venetian Masks have been very carefully made with great ability and attention to detail so these types of masks come with a high price tag. But if you’re looking for a mask that you would certainly proudly hang on your wall or display on your sideboard the genuine Venetian Masks are what you should buy.
If you’re looking more for a memorabilia of your visit to Venice, or you need something affordable to wear at the Venice Carnival you can buy cheaper imitations in the majority of tourist oriented shops in Venice. These will be more affordable, but the quality will show and it’s quite likely they weren’t even made in Venice!
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Different Types of Venetian Masks
There are several different types of Venetian Masks, some of which are more well-known than others, and some are more gorgeous than others. The popular Plague Physician Masks (Medico della Peste) can be very frightening and not at all beautiful in appearance, but this depends on how it’s been decorated. If it’s brightly coloured and decorated it makes them far less macabre!
The Plague Doctor Mask includes the characteristic long beak plus they originated in the 16th century from the design by a French physician who was trying to protect himself from the problem.
The other types of Venetian Masks are a small more normal in appearance and include the plainer Volto (or Lava) Masks that are mainly white and are generally worn with a ‘tricorn’ hat and also a cloak.
Bauta Masks are attractively decorated in comparison and are usually the most typical mask that you’ll see being used at the Carnival of Venice, plus the most popular to buy as souvenirs. They often cover the whole face, whereas the Columbine Mask covers just half the face.
How to Make a Venetian Face mask
If you’re visiting the Venice Carnival and want to make your own mask this really is possible! The most common way of making it is by using paper-mache though this can be messy plus time consuming. Another popular alternative would be to buy a plain mask in your home nation and then decorate it with feathers, beads, crystals and glitter for instance , creating your own unique and customised mask that you can bring with you to Venice for the Carnival!