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Everything That You Need to Know About Venetian Masks

What are they? 

Traditional Venetian masks were originally worn in Venice hundreds of years ago during the Venetian Carnival. They were worn to protect the identity of the person under the mask. They were generally separated into two categories - Commedia dell’ Arte masks which were masks inspired by characters from Commedia dell’ Arte improvisational theater, and carnival masks. They are still produced today as the carnival was brought back to Venice in 1979, and is now a very popular event among tourists. You can also find companies producing handmade Venetian masks to sell online, such as ceramics companies. 

How are they made? 

Venetian masks are still mass produced to this day as they are very popular fashion statements. They are typically made with a paper mache base, and then materials such as fabric, feathers, furs and gems are added to the mask for creativity. There are also different types of Venetian masks, there are thousands of different designs and more common well known designs, such as designs which pay homage to the Venetian plague doctors during the plague pandemics. 

What were they for?

They were mainly worn as fashion accessories for the Venetian carnivals which were believed to be first held in celebration of Venice's victory over Ulrico in 1168. The masks allowed people of all classes and genders to mix as equals, as the identity of the person wearing the mask was hidden. This meant that during carnivals, peasants would be able to dance, sing and gamble with nobles due to the masking of everybodies identity. Venetian masks such as the Moretta Mask, were worn by women to conceal their identity, which resulted in women feeling more freedom to participate in Venetian culture. 

Types of Venetian Masks 


Bauta masks were thought to be the original and traditional Venetian masks worn in Venice. The word Bauta comes from the German word ‘behuten’ which means protection. The mask is almost always white in colour which covers the facial features.


As mentioned before, Moretta masks were dominantly worn by women who would conceal their identities in order to allow themselves more freedom. The mask was originally invented in France, but was very quickly picked up by Venetian women. The Moretta mask was favoured by women due to the way it would amplify their feminine features

Medico della Peste 

This mask is very famous due to its connections with the plagues which terrorised the world hundreds of years ago, where Venice was particularly badly affected. The mask would be worn by plague doctors to protect them from infection, and features the well renowned bird-like appearance with a beak. 

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