Carnival of Venice: Venetian Masks History

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Carnival of Venice, Italy, is one the biggest and most famous carnivals in the world: maybe everything has been written about it so Diaries of an Explorer is going to talk about the Venetian Masks and most of all about the Venetian Masks History.
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This is one the pics I took yesterday in Piazza San Marco, San Mark's Square, but now let's go through the history of this tradition.
The first evidence of the Carnival of Venice was the document of the Doge Vitale Falier in 1094 and maybe before that year there were still feasts.

The reason why the Carnival was celebrated was that the aristocracy of the city decided to give the poorest families the possibility to party, dance and celebrate in the city.

The mask was used to cancel all the social differencies: instead of greeting someone with "Buongiorno Signore", they were used to say: "Buongiono Signora Maschera", like "Mr-Mrs Mask". The mask permitted to partecipate and join the party completely anonymous and everyone acted as per masquerade.

The popularity of Carnival grew and the guild of Mascarari was constituted and recognized even as profession by the Serenissima Republic, enjoying a special position with their own laws and privileges.

Clay, papier-maché and plaster were the materials used to build a mask, that then was decorated by drawings, embroideries, beads and plumage. 

The simplest and most used mask was the Bauta, made by a blank mask and a black cloak, even used at theatre or important events. Originally its name comes from the Venetian bau-bau, an imaginary monster used by the adults to scare their children.
Carnival of Venice, Diaries of an Explorer

Other common masks were the Plague Doctor, Moretta (dumb maid-servant), Colombina. The masks were also used in the Commedia dell'Arte, or Comedy of Humours or Extemporal Comedy, where characters used the masks, mostly based on the Venetian masks.

These characters became famous thanks to the art and theatre of Carlo Goldoni, mostly in Venetian language.

Unfortunately the Carnival knew its decline: in fact since the domination of Austro-held Kingdom over Venice  had determined the halt of the celebration, banned also during the Fascist era (1922 - 1943). 

After the Second World War local artesans and Venetians decided to restore the ancient tradition! Thanks to their passion for this feast the Carnival of Venice has become again one of the most important Carnivals in the world.

And now if you come to Venice during these days, you can see the most beautiful masks in the world, that even Hollywood represented in Eyes Wide Shut directed by Stanley Kubrick!
Carnival of Venice, Diaries of an explorer
Now you can find also fantasy masks like this:

Diaries of an explorer

sometimes scary
Carnival of Venice, Diaries of an Explorer
some more classic like this, with the Duke's Palace in the background.
Carnival of Venice, Diaries of an Explorer
it's strange but the normally it's almos impossible to see the face of a Venetian Mask, but this was the exception:
Carnival of Venice, Diaries of an Explorer
Then some finals shots of fantastic masks:
Carnival of Venice, Diaries of an explorer
Carnival of Venice, Diaries of an explorer
I hope you have enjoyed something more about the Venetian Masks History: it can be important to know something more about Italian traditions and I'm proud to show something from Veneto: my land.

If you want to see them directly, move up: on Tuesday the Carnival the meantime if you are interested in Venice there's also a flea market where to buy masks located in Campiello Morosini.
Carnival of Venice, Diaries of an Explorer
Carnival of Venice, Diaries of an Explorer
Do you wanna know more about the Carnival's main events? Click here!

Soon a guide of Venice will be made by Diaries of an explorer!

10 commenti:

Katherine Belarmino - Travel the World said...

What a great time to be in Venice!

Marco Zannin said...

Yeah, i come from a small town close to Venice! :-) when have you been here Katherine?

Cocoa and Lavender said...

Marco - I had no idea that masks were a societal equalizer. I think that is brilliant, although these days, some of the costumes seem like they are really showing off wealth anyway!

I loved being in Venice for the first time this past October - it was truly a memorable trip, and I definitely want to get back for Carnevale. For me, Venice was a revelation for food. I especially enjoyed posting on cicchetti, and also on the villas of Andrea Palladio. A presto! David

Marco Zannin said...

Hi David! :-) I did not even know this until I decided to know when the Carnival and the feasts started. I think it was really brilliant, but as you have noticed, now a Venetian mask or costume is really expensive: a second - handed costume could cost even 700.- 800 Euros!!! :-)

Eheheheh when you eat cicchetti and drink a spritz, you are a real Venetian! :-) So did you see the Palladio's villas in Vicenza or somewhere else too?

Cocoa and Lavender said...

We have a local Italian restaurant (the chef is Piemontese) that serves a good spritz. We love them! And we found several great cicchetti places while there. Hard to pick a favorite but our favorites were Vini al Bottegon (also know as Cantine del Vino gia Schiavi) and Osteria i Rusteghi. Do you know them?

Wow - €700-800 is a lot! I think I would just make my own cape and get a bauta mask! Do you have a good costume?

We didn't go to Vicenza, but picked three that we have wanted to see - Villa Foscari (La Malcontenta), Villa di Maser (Villa Barbaro), and Villa Emo. My favorite has to be Villa Fiscari - the setting is so incredible. Although we really enjoyed the little restaurant at Villa di Maser.

Marco Zannin said...

Oh that's great! I'm happy that the spritz is becoming an international know how it is, here in Veneto we don't say..."let's meet together", but "let's have a spritz" lol! :-)

Yeah I know them: they are good and traditional places: I know they have a great rating on Tripadvisor too! :-)

The Venetian costumes are expensive as they are hand-made by local that's why you could spend that much. I don't have one, but I will buy one of them too! :-)

Lol you have been really close to my hometown ( Montebelluna) when you visited Villa Emo and Villa Barbaro. Yeah close to Villa Emo in Maser, there's the De Gusto, where you eat tasty sandwiches.

Well if you come back here and I will be still living here, let's get together for a prosecco or an ombra! :-)

Cocoa and Lavender said...

I was lucky to find both those places bácari - I never even did any research on food before our trip. Unusual for me, but I was so busy that I never got to it. I should look them up on on Tripadvisor!

I love that you say, "Let's have a spritz!" Now I need to see what an ombra is! :-)

Yes, we drove right through Montebelluna - I remember trying to figure out which syllable got the accent! lol!

Well, don't spend too much on the costume - much better to use your money for all the good food and wine there! ;-) And, yes - will definitely keep in touch and let you know when we come back. I just subscribed to your blog - my first non-food blog! lol!

A presto, d

Marco Zannin said...

Yeah! I know these 2 bacari, but I also checked if they were on Tripadvisor and Vini al Bottegon are ranked #13!

An ombra is a smaller glass of red wine. Alternatively to the spritz, you can have an ombra and cicchetti, as in Veneto we drink more wine rather than beer. In my case, as I'm really close to the prosecco area, we drink prosecco: in fact, the spritz with prosecco is typical of my province.

Ehehehehehe that's fine! It sounds like this Montebélluna! :-)

Well, it would be nice once to have a Venetian costume, but in some years! :-) Yeah that's great and I've also subscribed to your blog as I love the food recipes and most of all eat well! :-) Sometimes, I love writing a post about food, but just related to what I ate during a trip :-)

Buona serata e buon weekend! :-)

mythily said...

Hi Marco, it was interesting to read about the masks, Thanks for sharing.
What are the important places to visit in June mid say from 20th onwards if one is visiting Venice for the first time.

Marco Zannin said...

Hi Mythily, thanks for your comment! I'm pleased to hear you liked the post. Regarding the places to visit in Venice, let me know how long are you going to stay in Venice.

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