The true story about Venice Carnival Masks

Traditonal Venice Carnival Masks

Venice Carnival wasn’t always like the one we are used to today. In fact, Carnival time in Venice was longer and the mood was different, and the Venetian carnival masks were fewer than those we see today among the streets.
We have already talked about the history of the Venetian Carnival, but we have never faced the topic of the masks.
As you know, Venice Carnival was the only time when the lower and upper classes mingled together, hiding behind the same costumes and masks. But what are the traditional Venice Carnival masks? Let’s find out more about them in this article.

The traditional Venetian Carnival Mask: La Bauta

The so-called Bauta is the only true Venetian mask found at the Carnival. It’s quite a simple mask actually, completely different from those you can buy from shops in Venice. In fact, the Bauta has no feather, no colors, and no particular shape.
This unique mask is always white and can cover up your whole face – its purpose was just hiding people’s faces, to make everyone look the same.
Carnival was a period of parties and amusement, of course, but it was also a moment of equality, that’s why everyone used to wear the same masks.
To complete the Venice Carnival costume that includes the Bauta, you should also wear the so-called tabarro, a warm and heavy black cloak Venetians used to wear every day to protect themselves from the cold winter.

The second traditional Venetian Carnival Mask: La Moretta

The Moretta mask is an intriguing one, and only women could wear it. It’s a simple mask too, in term of shape, but it’s black and not white.
Its peculiarity is hidden behind the mask itself, in order to wear it, women had to hold a button between their teeth. This makes the person behind the Moretta mask even more mysterious because she (or maybe he?) couldn’t speak without taking it off.
Venetian men loved this mask, probably because their romantic affairs became more challenging, without knowing who they were talking to. Or perhaps there was another reason… maybe Venetians women used to talk too much?

The Plague Doctor’s mask? This is why isn’t a traditional Venice Carnival mask

Even though this mask is very famous around the world, it isn’t a traditional Venice Carnival mask and we’ll tell you why. You might know that Venice struggled with plague for years in the past, but despite the great medical knowledge Venetians had, they didn’t know how to defeat this epidemic. The only thing they knew was how the infection worked, this why they invented the Plague Doctor’s mask.
The long beak on the mask was filled with aromatic herbs, to protect the doctor form the airborne disease. At this point, you might want to know more about how Venetians faced the plague problem, so we suggest reading our articles about the Festa-day of Madonna della Salute and the Redentore Feast.
By the way, as you see, this mask has nothing to do with Venice Carnival, but it’s definitely one of the most peculiar and fascinating masks of the Venetian history.