Cover up Wearing in Venice

There was a time in the history of Venice when Venetians wore masks almost all year round, and not simply for special occasions. They were a part of everyday routine and became really popular if they started appearing at the Carnival associated with Venice in 1268. They were so popular with people from all walks associated with life because they allowed the wearer to hide their identity and to mingle with people from other classes of society without having to be known or found out.

The mask-makers, called mascherari, held a very important place in society and were highly skilled on the art of mask making. There was even a mask-makers statute dated 10 April 1436 in recognition of the industry, but after several hundred years of Venetian Masks being a lot a part of the culture of Venice, the Senate decreed that cover up wearing would be severely restricted. They will believed there was a rise in mask wearing for illicit and illegal activities and with the culprit being masked it was very difficult to identify them.

Masks became a thing of children’s parties until the Venice Carnival was re-launched in 1979 and suddenly their popularity shot up once again. During the Carnival of Venice you’ll see many of the locals and tourists in Venice wearing Venetian masks of all different kinds, but you can buy these often exquisite works of art at any time of the year from numerous stores in Venice.

Where to Buy Venetian Masks

Authentic handmade Venetian Face masks have been very carefully made with great ability and attention to detail so these types of masks come with a high price tag. When you’re looking for a mask that you would proudly hang on your wall or display on your sideboard the authentic Venetian Masks are what you should be buying.

If you’re looking more for a memorabilia of your visit to Venice, or you would like something affordable to wear at the Venice Carnival you can buy cheaper imitations in the majority of tourist oriented shops within Venice. These will be more affordable, however the quality will show and it’s most probably they weren’t even made in Venice!

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 beautiful than others.
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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 plus decorated it makes them far less macabre!

The Plague Doctor Mask includes the characteristic long beak and so they originated in the 16th century from a design by a French physician who was trying to protect himself from the plague.

The other types of Venetian Masks are a small more normal in appearance and include the plainer Volto (or Lava) Face masks that are mainly white and are generally worn with a ‘tricorn’ hat plus a cloak.

Bauta Masks are beautifully decorated in comparison and are usually the most typical mask that you’ll see being put on at the Carnival of Venice, as well as the most popular to buy as souvenirs. They often cover the whole face, whereas a Columbine Mask covers just 1 / 2 of the face.

How to Make a Venetian Mask

If you’re visiting the Venice Carnival and want to make your own mask this is possible! The most common way of making it is with paper-mache though this can be messy plus time consuming. Another popular alternative would be to buy a plain mask in your home country and then decorate it with down, beads, crystals and glitter for example , creating your own unique and personalised mask that you can bring with you in order to Venice for the Carnival!