The Carnival of Venice (Italian: Carnevale
di Venezia) is an annual festival, held in Venice, Italy. The
Carnival starts around two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove
Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras), the day before Ash Wednesday.
One commonly accepted derivation of the
word "carnival" is the Latin "carne vale" or
"farewell to meat."
The carnevale ended in 1797
During the 1970s, the
Italian government decided to bring back the history and culture of
Venice, and sought to use the traditional Carnival as the centerpiece of
their efforts. Today, approximately 30,000 visitors come to Venice each
day for Carnivals.
Carnevale di Venice Masks
Masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks
are typically worn during the Carnevale (Carnival of Venice), but
have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device
for hiding the wearer's identity and social status. The mask would permit
the wearer to act more freely in cases where he or she wanted to interact
with other members of the society outside the bounds of identity and
everyday convention. It was thus useful for a variety of purposes, some of
them illicit or criminal, others just personal, such as romantic
By the 18th centaury the use of the Bauta and
Moretta masks to conceal the
identity of ladies and gentlemen in the
gambling houses (Il Ridotti) of Venice had become commonplace.
Types of Masks
BautaOne of the most common masked
images of Venice and Carnevale is the Bautta -- a costume consisting
of a white mask called the volto which covers 1/2 to 3/4 of the
face, worn with a voluminous black veil and/or cloak, topped with a
black tricorn hat. The bautta is particularly popular because it
permits eating, drinking (and kissing) while disguising the
The Moretta or Servetta Muta (trans: dumb
maid-servant) is a
black velvet, oval shaped mask that was worn by
Venetian ladies. in the 18th century. It held in place by a
button on the inside of the mask that is held clenched between the teeth
of the wearer. The forced silence to which these women were forced
specially pleased the male counterpart
was an early
actress in the 15th century whose vanity made her reluctant
to camouflage her beauty behind a mask. The half-mask was designed to
Columbina translates from Italian as
"little dove" and her character in Commedia dell'arte
usually dressed in a ragged and patched dress appropriate to a hired
servant. Colombina aided her mistress (the innamorata) to gain the
affections of her one true love by manipulating Arlecchino and counter
plotting against Pantalone while simultaneously managing the whereabouts
of the "Innamorato" (lover)
Another peculiarly popular and interesting character is "El Medico della
Peaste", the Plague Doctor.
His costume originally served several functions -- first, in the time of plague,
it was a disguise to hide the identity of a physician who by visiting plague
victims might be exposed to contagion. The tunic was of pure linen or waxed
cloth to protect him, and finally, he always had his trusty staff with which he
removed the clothes of plague-victims, thinking that in this way the terrible
epidemic would not bring him any her.
The "Volto" was the more common mask used in Venice for
Volto means "face" to design that is was the most common,
Also called "Larva", with the possible meaning of
"ghost", as it gives an eerie appearance to the people wearing
it, just imagine ... at night, under a full moon ... in those narrow
shape of the mask allowed to breathe and drink easily, therefore did not
need to remove it, thus maintaining anonymity.
The Zanni family, of Masquerade Masks, originated in Venice in the
fifteenth century with the Italian Comedy - The Commedia Dell' Arte. The
word originates from the Venetian, Giovanni (a
nick-name for (John)
and is a diminutive of it. Zanni is also sometimes known as Zan, Zane,
Zanne, Zany, or Zani, and is where the English term 'zany' comes from.
Meaning: a clown, an awkward simpleton, a buffoon or a person who is a,
stupid incompetent fool. (The longer the nose, the dumber the character.
The class of the Zanni family of Masquerade Masks depicts the buffoon,
always from the lower class, the peasant, a migrant worker, holding positions
of servants, valets, slaves, porters, odd-job person, hawkers, rogues etc.
Zanni refers to the class of mask, as well as to an individual character. In
The Commedia Dell' Arte, Zanni was an important character type, representing a