The Carnival of Venice (Italian: Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual festival held in Venice, Italy. This festival is well-known for its elaborate masks.
History of Venice Carnival
Carnival of Venice was most probably started from a victory of the Venice Republic against the Patriarch of Aquileia in 1162. In honor of this victory, the people started to dance and gather in St. Mark’s Square.
It’s known that under the rule of the Holy Roman Emperor, the carnival of Venice was forbidden and wearing masks became forbidden for the population in 1797.
After more than 180 years, the Carnival of Venice returned in 1979 and since then it was extremely famous – attracting 3 million visitors annually.
Venice Carnival Dates
The carnival’s final days falls always on a Tuesday (Shove Tuesday), and the officials yet try to figure out the best possible date each year for it. The length of the Venice Carnival is slightly changed from year to year.
The first event date was in 1162, but most people take 1979 as the first modern Venice Carnival celebration date.
Venetian Carnival Masks
Carnival masks have always been a distinctive feature of the Venetian carnival. During the event, people traditionally wear them. Mask makers (Italian: mascherari) enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild.
These masks are usually made of leather or porcelain, with the addition of using the original glass technique as well. The original Venetian carnival masks are usually simple in design and often have a symbolic and practical function.
Popular Venetian Masks
There are several popular masks which are worn during the Venice Carnival, the most popular masks are the following:
- Bauta – One of the most popular masks for the Venetians. Bauta is designed to comfortably cover the entire face.
- The Plague Doctor (Medico Della Peste) – A distinctive, unique and one of the most bizarre and recognizable of the Venetian masks. Males usually (almost exclusively) wear this Venetian mask.
- The Colombina – This is a half-mask, only covering the wearer’s eyes, nose, and upper cheeks. It is held up to the face by a baton or is tied with ribbon.
- Volto (Larva) – It is the iconic modern Venetian mask, usually made of stark white porcelain or thick plastic. Unlike most masks, the Volto covers the entire face of the wearer including the whole of the chin.
- Pantalone – Name derives from the classic character of the Italian stage (Pianta il leone). It is usually represented as a sad old man with an oversized nose and slanted eyes. This is a half mask and it’s exclusively worn by men.
Original masks are made by mask makers and they are more expensive compared to the modern low-quality masks produced by American or Chinese factories.