Hundreds and thousands of tourists flock to Venice to see and also to be a part in its wonderful Carnival Of Venice. You well see people dressed in a fancy way and even tourists are enticed to take part in the charming and colorful feat making it an exceptional happening. The mysterious, and disturbing Venetian masks, while eying all from the city’s alleyways, which imaginably is a Venetian world, the part which you could imaging, and this tradition has being followed for over three hundred years. There are so many events and which makes it one of the attractions which is irresistible and makes it a unique experience of living the life of the 18th century Venice.
Well for Venetians, wearing masks has all the time been more than just a simple fun; it is still a very strong tradition and goes all the way to the cultural roots of the great city. Venetians were well known for being transgressions and libertines, they did not just use the masks only at the time of city carnival, the meaning of wearing the mask in Venice was like access to the forbidden liberties such as you could jibe at the people who are powerful, opportunity to gamble without even being caught, a chance to take risk in business, a chance to take risk in love, well some even used to enter the convents without actually being seen. Various numbers of dressing laws which were passed as the evidence of how widely the culture was spread!
In the early 17th century, the Council of the Ten issued a decree, and they made a rule of forbidding any resident of the city to wear masks, expect during the carnival time and during the time of official banquets. However the masks were allowed during some important events such as banquets, and the celebration of Serenissima, such as Ascension Day, or the day when the Doge climbed on the Bucintoro, or even during the flight of the Colombine when a wooden bird showers the flowers on the crowd. Well the nobles who impoverished made use of the masks in while begging on the streets and various married women were forced to use masks while going to the theatre.
The purpose of the Carnival Of Venice was meant to let go and abandoning oneself to play; in other words transgression, good willed madness, and freedom. During the celebration of the carnival the palaces of the rulers opened the courtyard for enjoying the celebrations and long music and dancing entertained the crowd all day and night inside the alleyways, the crowd celebrated the carnival even on the water and in the small squares. The whole city came alive with colors, music and dances.
‘Bauta’ was one of the most widely used mask during Carnival Of Venice and Venetians were ready to spend their fortune to get one. Bauta, is a full cut black mantle which dropped over the shoulders all the way to the waist. Over their hear they used to wear typical black, hat with three corners or the tricorno, and they used to cover their faces with the white mask which was called ‘larva’, which is widened and protruding lip which actually altered their voices. This mask was used both by men and women, who wore it in black during winter and during the summers they wore white.
There are different masks for different occasions, among them one of these was the ‘moretta’, which is a velvet oval in black, normally women wear this mask. Especially, when they visit the convents, the Mute mask, this mask is actually placed over the face and has a small button which goes into the mouth and it prevents speech.
Well the crafts men who actually created masks were known as ‘Mascareri’ and these people were widely respected and were considered on par with painters. Well they were assisted by the ‘targheri’, who painted faces of different kinds on the surface which was plastered.
Even till this day while you walk on the streets of Venice, you can come across the mask makers across various crafts shops renewing this ancient tradition. The Carnival Of Venice was celebrated at its best during the 18th century, and it got back a new life in the during the 80s and these days the carnival lasts for month with variety of shows, balls, music and various plays, which are organized all over the city, well over a million visitors from different parts of the globe visit the city every year, many these days dress up magnificently to show off the expensive costumes at the time of carnival.
Along with the carnival’s fairy atmospheres, the entire city turns back becoming the 18th century city, where as if you are dreaming, you may Giacomo Casanova, you can take a romantic gondola ride along with Carlo Goldoni, or even surprise a noble women meeting her lover. Well Venice could even reserve us yet another honour, some times we could even see the Doga in person, while he is just walking few steps away from us.