The history of the Venetian Masks

The Carnival of Venice is one of the most popular and admired Carnivals thanks to the beautiful and mysterious masks that quietly stroll in the streets of Venice.

Heart of the Venice Carnival is Piazza San Marco, the place where masks and the public to meet the great parades. But Carnival is in itself a big party spread , where every bar, every street and every area comes alive with music and theater, whose common goal is the pleasure of being in the company and subvert roles and conventions, even if only for a few days.

In Venice, the link between Carnival and Mask is indissoluble . Historically, the first hints to the masks date back to 1200, when the Doge Enrico Dandolo reported the use of Constantinople women to walk with their ​​faces covered.
The first testimonies and documents date back to the fifteenth century, when the job of "mascarero" was recognized with its own statute.

In 1773 there were as many as 12 shops of masks. They also used oilcloth and paper mache. The most typical mask was the Bauta, actually more than a mask, as a common dress worn normally go to the theater, the cafes, the gambling houses, along with the cloak, a black cloak, and a three-cornered hat on top.

In modern times, the use of the mask refers to theatrical phenomenon that flourished in Italy during the seventeenth century, the "Commedia dell'Arte", which presented a comical theatrical genre, in which the actor would improvise on the trail of a "canvas".

The characters were with constant characteristics, which were completed with the costumes, to get to the funny masks of the Commedia dell'Arte as we know them today, Columbine, Harlequin, Pantalone, Zanni and many others.

The masks of the Commedia dell'Arte:

Columbine is a Venetian mask, romantically linked to Harlequin. Accomplice maid and curious about all affairs of her mistress.

Harlequin, with his colorful costume, is easily recognizable. Poor servant, not very clever yet he believes to be, always cheerful even if hungry, known for his acrobatic movements . The black mask does not entirely cover the face. This mask comes from the town of Bergamo .

Pantalone is an old Venetian merchant, a strong character who unsuccessfully tries to seduce young women, greedy and stingy, sometimes poverty-struck but more often so rich, that he always ends up with paying the bill.

Zanni is one of the oldest characters of Commedia dell'Arte. The mask, originally from the Veneto- Lombard area, is a porter of humble origin, a cunning schemer, always hungry and homeless. He embodies both sides of people's soul: mocking and adventurous, passive and pleasure-loving, a little stupid, a little wise.

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