History Behind Masks of Venice

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florence009It is a common day in meanwhile between February and March when you appear to be strolling in the renowned city of canals surrounded by people with fancy masks on. Carnival of Venice. You stop at the nearest mask shop as got attracted with a colorful mask. Yet, that mask has its history to tell you before it covers your face.

Venetians first held the Carnival in 1168 as their triumph over Ulrico, Patriarch of Aquileia. However, what made them put on masks during the Carnival? Most probably people concealed their identities and social class.

The masks venetians put on during the Carnival generally belong to two types: Commedia dell’ Arte masks and Carnival masks.

Commedia dell’ Arte was a travelling theatre famous from 16th to 18th centuries. Some of the masks are taken from the characters the actors of the theatre played. These include famous masks such as Arlecchino (half mask with big nose and bump on the forehead), Capitan Scaramouche (half mask with a long nose), Colombina (traditional half mask with gems and feather) and Pierrot (full mask with a teardrop).

Carnival masks, in their turn, might portray certain historical events or symbols. “Dottore Peste” ( otherwise called “Medico della Peste”) is mask similar to the one doctors put on while treating patients during the times Venice was attacked by mortal plague. The mask has a long beak where doctors put herbs. “Gatto” is another mask that is made in form of a cat’s face. There were few cats in Venice that is why some people think the mask was made so.

 

Luiza Vardanyan

Source: http://www.historyofmasks.net/mask-history/history-of-venetian-masks/

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