Venetian Masks and the Carnival of Venice
Origin: the first official document is dated 1094 during the period of Vitale Falier Doge and it talks about Carnival and public leisure activities.
Why do people wear masks during the Carnival?
Traditionally people were allowed to wear masks with the aim to eliminate social differences. People could broke the rules without been recognized.
The use of masks dates back to 1200, when the Doge Enrico Dandolo reported that he was walking with a woman and they had both their face covered.
During the seventeenth century the “Commedia dell’Arte”, a form of theatre, flourished in Italy and in Venice. The characters of the “Commedia dell’Arte” wore masks and costumes some of them are venetian masks.
Columbine, for example, is in love with Harlequin. It is a half- mask and it is decorated with gold, silver, crystals and feathers. Harlequin, a poor servant with a black half-mask. Pantalone, who wear the pants, is an old Venetian merchant, who unsuccessfully tries to seduce Columbine. Zanni is one of the oldest characters of Commedia dell’Arte. It is a half mask in leather with a long nose.
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