On the day the 2017 Venetian Carnival starts, let's take a closer look at the masquerade. Venetian masks are intriguing and beautiful. Guest contributor Jason Phillips shares a few different types of Venetian masks that you will love!
Venetian masks are perfect for masquerade parties. There are so many options, though, that it can be difficult to decide. In making a selection, you'll want to consider the rest of your outfit, and how the colour and style of the mask will coordinate with it. Also think about the impression that you want to make. Some types of masks also have a historical meaning, and it can be fascinating to know the background of the mask you choose. Here are some of the popular types of Venetian masks.
1 The Medico DellaPeste
This is a traditional mask that can look rather scary and ominous. The main element is a very long beak sticking down. There are round eyes, and sometimes simple glasses. Historically, these masks were worn by doctors during the plague, and were supposed to prevent spreading of the disease. The traditional Medico della Pestemask is white, but sometimes modern versions incorporate bright colours. As for the whole costume, the wearer has a really long overcoat, black gloves, boots, and a brim hat. If you're attending a masquerade party, this costume will certainly make a lasting impression.
2 The Volto
The Volto is a full face mask, with lips and nose moulded into the mask. It's like a mask within a mask, since the physical mask includes the full face, with a design of a mask across the upper portion covering the cheeks and eyes. Often, these masks will be white and gold, so they go with many outfits. Since the Volto shows no part of your face, it is a good choice when you want to stay completely anonymous.
3 The Bauta
This is a men's mask, with a full face design featuring a wide, square jaw. The mask has eye holes and a nose, but no mouth at all. Usually these are white, gold or silver in colour, and the design can be either simple or quite ornate. These are popular masks during the Carnivale in Venice, and they have a long history. Centuries ago, the Bauta were worn during political votes, so that people could cast their votes anonymously. Apparently, the Bauta was Casanova's mask. It was meant to hide a wearer's identity completely, thus allowing men of all ranks to have a good time without being judged or gossiped about afterwards.
4 The Pantalone
This is another mask with a beak, but the beak is much smaller than on the Medico della Peste, and this beak points forward rather than down. The design is based on a classic character from the Italian theater, and represents a person who is funny and smart. The Pantalone is the joker in the crowd, a lively person who can keep others entertained. The mask comes in a wide range of different colors and styles.
5 The Colombina
The Colombina is a woman's mask, which is designed to show off a portion of the face beautifully. The mask covers just the cheek and eye area, and a portion of the nose, leaving the mouth uncovered. The design is based on another character from the Italian theatre, who was a beautiful maidservant. These masks can be wonderfully decorated, and may have bright colours, ribbons, feathers, beads, and jewels. Since the mouth is uncovered, the mask is cooler and more convenient to wear than a full face mask, but it does not hide your identity so well. Though the Colombina mask is traditionally for women, there are some modern versions that are designed for men, too.
The Moretta mask is yet another compelling type of masquerade mask worn mainly by women. It is a strapless, oval mask made of velvet, which is a really soft type of material. It doesn't feature an opening for the mouth area. Centuries ago, the Moretta had to be clutched between the wearer’s teeth, which is why it was often called ‘the mute mask’.
Gnaga is an extremely common type of Venetian mask. It was part of a costume worn by males who wanted to wear women’s clothes at a masquerade party. The traditional outfit included female attire and a Gnaga mask, which portrayed a female cat. It was certainly one of the most controversial types of disguises in the Venetian times.
There are so many types of beautiful masquerade masks you can wear at parties, Mardi Gras and themed events. The key to having the most impressive outfit is to combine a mask with an equally striking costume. Women should also accentuate their make-up to draw attention. Focus on the eyes and lips, and make sure your hair matches with the mask, too. At formal events, your attire should be tasteful and exquisite. A hand-crafted masquerade mask will certainly make everyone admire you, but it has to be unique and original for that to happen. Which was your favorite Venetian mask?