The Harlequin and His Mask

A Harlequin, or alrecchino, is most commonly recognized as a comical character from the famous theatrical performance, the Italian Commedia dell’Arte. The first appearance of the harlequin was during the 16th century. There have been a number of theories attempting to describe the origins of the harlequin, which really adds to his mystery. Some say the harlequin came from Italy, while others believe he was originally French.

The general idea of a harlequin is a slow-thinking yet energetic figure. He has been associated with stupidity but throughout history, the harlequin has proved to be lively and witty. He was an entertainer, an acrobat to be more specific. He would never resort to simple and reserved acts of entertainment. He was the one performing the back flips and other acrobats as well as putting himself in mischievous situations. In other words, he possessed a very clown-like persona.

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Harlequin Pagliacci Auguste Handpainted Porcelain Posable Clown Doll Blue Coat
Harlequin Pagliacci Auguste Handpainted Porcelain Posable Clown Doll Blue Coat
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Half Doll Porcelain Harlequin Woman Vintage Party Woman “Polka Dots” 2 1/2”
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Musical Show Stoppers Purple Jester Harlequin Porcelain Doll Mardi Gras Wind up
Musical Show Stoppers Purple Jester Harlequin Porcelain Doll Mardi Gras Wind up
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Christmas Harlequin Doll Style B
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Christmas Harlequin Doll Style A
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HARLEQUIN PIERROT FRENCH MIME DOLL WITH COMEDY AND TRAGEDY MASKS! FF439QXX
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NEW R. John Wright “HARLEQUIN” Doll with Cert of Authenticity
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Vintage Harlequin Pierrot Jester Doll 18
Vintage Harlequin Pierrot Jester Doll 18" Porcelain Black & Silver
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The arlecchino was a subservient character in all of his acts. One will immediately recognize the harlequin due to his colorful outfit that was created with patches of diamond checkered fabric. Typical colors of a harlequin outfit are blue, green and red. The harlequin mask is the most significant aspect of the ensemble. The mask is usually black or white and has a low forehead along with a wart. It is meant to cover the eyes and the area around them only. These masks were often accompanied by jester hats that had bells attached at the ends. As the harlequin would walk around he would carry a slapstick with him too.

Arlecchino usually had a love interest by the name of Columbine in the Commedia dell’Arte, but he was not always able to woo her. He was a poor soul often hungry for food and thirsty for lust. While he was physically alive and energetic, his mind was rather sluggish. He could not multi-task in his mind and his thoughts were limited. In the Commedia dell’Arte, the harlequin falls for a number of strange traps that he brings upon himself.

The high-spirited and clever harlequin often appears in theatrical performances known as harlequinades. He is always caught in tight situations and is never the one to seek revenge. He often wears a black mask that he can lift in order to reveal himself.

The character of the harlequin has evolved numerous times over the centuries. The 18th Century, however, brought an end to the fantasy and witty characteristics of the harlequin. He became less complex and more one-dimensional.

The Harlequin reappears in modern culture in literature, music, cinema and celebrations. Pop culture has really embraced this acrobatic figure in movies such as Moulin Rouge and Batman. The Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a popular arena for venerating the story and character of the harlequin. They are still dressed in diamond patterned one-piece outfits and decorative masks. The masks are often covered with feathers and decorations. The harlequin masks cover the true identity of the figure behind it and it represents the complex nature of the persona. No one could ever really understand the harlequin.

Green Feather Mask

Light green to dark Emerald green feathered Masquerade masks for sale. Get the perfect green feathered mask to wear during Mardi Gras, Carnival, or a masquerade party by browsing the many types of feather masks below. Clicking the links below will open a new window in your browser with a full description of the green feathered masquerade mask for sale on eBay.

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Feathered Mask Masquerade Feather New Purple Green Yellow
Feathered Mask Masquerade Feather New Purple Green Yellow
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Feathered Mask Masquerade Peacock Feather New Purple Green Yellow Black
Feathered Mask Masquerade Peacock Feather New Purple Green Yellow Black
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Mask Venetian Mask Masquerade Feathered Mask 4 Multi Colors To Choose From
Mask Venetian Mask Masquerade Feathered Mask 4 Multi Colors To Choose From
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Green Feather Black Metal Venetian Masquerade Mask with Green Stones
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Marcia Feathered Mask Green
Marcia Feathered Mask Green
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Venetian Green Velvet Feathered Mardi Gras Mask Adult
Venetian Green Velvet Feathered Mardi Gras Mask Adult
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12" Green Feather Mask Mardi Gras Festive Costume Accessories Props
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Adult Orange & Green Feather Eye Mask
Adult Orange & Green Feather Eye Mask
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Purple Feather Mask

Elegant purple or lavender feathers masquerade masks for sale. Match your mask to your outfit with these mysterious purple feathered mask to wear during Mardi Gras, Carnival, or a masquerade party by browsing the many purple and lavender feather masks below. Clicking the links below will open a new window in your browser with a full description of the purple feathered masquerade mask for sale on eBay.

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Purple Venetian Carnival Masquerade Top Feather Eye Mask Mardi Gras For Women
Purple Venetian Carnival Masquerade Top Feather Eye Mask Mardi Gras For Women
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Women Venetian Glitter Masquerade Mask Feather Party Mask Costume Purple Gold
Women Venetian Glitter Masquerade Mask Feather Party Mask Costume Purple Gold
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Feathered Mask Masquerade Feather New Purple Green Yellow
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Feather Venetian Mardi Gras Masquerade Mask for Women Purple/Gold M6131
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Feathered Mask Masquerade Peacock Feather New Purple Green Yellow Black
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Mask Venetian Mask Masquerade Feathered Mask 4 Multi Colors To Choose From
Mask Venetian Mask Masquerade Feathered Mask 4 Multi Colors To Choose From
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Purple Masquerade Feather Lace Mask Fantasy Flapper Costume Mardi Gras Carnival
Purple Masquerade Feather Lace Mask Fantasy Flapper Costume Mardi Gras Carnival
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Women's Peacock Feathered Venetian Mardi Gras Masquerade Mask [Purple/Gold]
Women's Peacock Feathered Venetian Mardi Gras Masquerade Mask [Purple/Gold]
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Feathered Masquerade Masks

Beautiful feather adorned masquerade masks for sale. Each fantastic masquerade mask is distinct in shape and style, and it is common to match the color of your mask with the rest of your costume or clothing. Find the perfect feathered mask to wear during Mardi Gras, Carnival, or a masquerade party by browsing the many types of feather masks below. Clicking the links below will open a new window in your browser with a full description of the feathered masquerade masks for sale on eBay.

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Silver Ancient Venetian Mardi Gras Party Costume Mask Feather Masquerade for Men
Silver Ancient Venetian Mardi Gras Party Costume Mask Feather Masquerade for Men
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Feather Venetian Masquerade Mask for Women M8339 White
Feather Venetian Masquerade Mask for Women M8339 White
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Purple Venetian Carnival Masquerade Top Feather Eye Mask Mardi Gras For Women
Purple Venetian Carnival Masquerade Top Feather Eye Mask Mardi Gras For Women
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His & Her Couple Masquerade Mask Phantom Feather for Party Prom Dance Black Gold
His & Her Couple Masquerade Mask Phantom Feather for Party Prom Dance Black Gold
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Gold Black Venetian Mask for His & Hers Couple Party Feather Masquerade Costume
Gold Black Venetian Mask for His & Hers Couple Party Feather Masquerade Costume
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Venetian Party Masquerade Mardi Gras Tall Feather Mask for Men Dark Gold Black
Venetian Party Masquerade Mardi Gras Tall Feather Mask for Men Dark Gold Black
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Luxury Black Side Feather Lace Venice Festival Costume Masquerade Mask for Women
Luxury Black Side Feather Lace Venice Festival Costume Masquerade Mask for Women
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Feathered Mask Masquerade Feather New Purple Green Yellow
Feathered Mask Masquerade Feather New Purple Green Yellow
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Types & Styles

Types of Venetian Masks

Venetian masks were originally designed for all sorts of entertainment and games for the ruling class as well as lower classes. The masks held a symbolic purpose of disguising ones identity but they also served more functional purposes. Many of these purposes revolved around promiscuity, crime and other illicit behavior. Others wanted to free themselves from judgment and strict moral codes.

Mask-Makers and Guilds

The creation of thousands of masks would not have been possible without dedicated Venetian mask-makers. Also known as maschereri, these artisans were official members of a guild dedicated to crafting Venetian masks. They created various styles and shapes and decorated these masks with distinct features and aesthetic designs.

Venetian Mask Styles

There are three major types of Venetian Masks—the Bauta, Larva and Moretta. The Bauta was worn by men and women and was attached to a black mantle as well as a tricorn hat. The mask itself is white and completely covers the face, making it difficult to eat and speak. This was the ideal mask for the most mischievous behavior. The Larva, or Volto, is similar to the Bauta in that it is covered in white paint. These masks were made of fine wax cloth and were lighter in nature. The wearer can comfortably eat, drink and dance while remaining anonymous. They resembled a ghost lurking in the depths of the night. The Moretta was a black mask worn by women who visited convents. They held the mask in place by biting on to a button in the mouth. This prevented them from speaking.

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12pc Venetian Mask Party Birthday Favors Masquerade Halloween Party Mask
12pc Venetian Mask Party Birthday Favors Masquerade Halloween Party Mask
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Feather Venetian Masquerade Mask for Women M8339 White
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Creepy Rabbit Venetian Mask
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Gold Black Venetian Mask for His & Hers Couple Party Feather Masquerade Costume
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Empress Divine Venetian Mask Silver
Empress Divine Venetian Mask Silver
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Venetian Mask Adult Womens Masquerade Ball Costume Accessory Fancy Dress
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Lace Masquerade Mask, Venetian Mardi Gras Lace Mask for Women LM 008 Black
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Women Venetian Glitter Masquerade Mask Feather Party Mask Costume Purple Gold
Women Venetian Glitter Masquerade Mask Feather Party Mask Costume Purple Gold
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Skull Metal Venetian Masquerade Mask for Men or Women, Silver Masquerade Mask
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All Black Laced Women's Costume Masquerade Venetian Mask with Feathers
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Womens Luxury Metal Venetian Masquerade Mask [Black with Purple Rhinestones]
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Feather Venetian Mardi Gras Masquerade Mask for Women Purple/Gold M6131
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Venetian masks range from half masks, full face masks as well as head masks. Each one is distinct in shape and style. Head masks are attached to head pieces and other parts of the costume while full-face masks and half-masks are detachable. Full-face masks and head-masks are also more elaborate and decorated. They were the preferred choice among the troubling types. The more the face is covered, the more mystical the wearer becomes.

The Art of Masquerade Masks

Images of Masquerade Party MasksThe modern revival of masquerade masks is deeply rooted in craftsmanship and the artistic qualities of the masks. While these agents of disguise originated in Venice they have been welcomed in other parts of the world including the rest of Europe and the Americas. Each region has its own style and culture surrounding these masks.

When masquerades were popular, Venetian mask-makers, or maschereri, established a guild in the early 15th century and began producing decorative masks. Attention to detail was a critical part of creating these masks and there was a range of types and styles.

There are three different types of masks including the Bauta, Moretta and Larva.

  • Bauta: These masks were originally created for the Carnival and they come in two forms. One covers the entire face while the other covers the upper area of the face.
  • Moretta: These masks originated in France and were constructed using black velvet. They were worn by women who visited convent and were attached to a veil.
  • Larva: Also known as the volto, these masks were typically white and originated in Venice. The shape is similar to the Bauta but the mask itself is made of wax cloth. They were more comfortable for dancing, eating and mingling.

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Luxury Bauta Light Filigree Metal Venetian Masquerade Mask for Men [Gold]
Luxury Bauta Light Filigree Metal Venetian Masquerade Mask for Men [Gold]
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Traditional Venetian Bauta Mask Masquerade Party Mask Yellow Leopard Glitter
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Bauta Masquerade Mask Black Detailing
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Bauta Masquerade Mask Black Lace
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Bauta Masquerade Mask Silver Lace
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The original mask was created by Venetians and the mask-makers used two different methods. Papier mache was the first method which combined glue and paper strips to form the shape of the mask. These masks were generally designed to be held by a stick and to only cover the eyes. In order to create full-face masks, the artists used clay to produce molds. The mask-makers applied specialized paint and added all sorts of decorative elements including gems, beads, ribbons, natural feathers and dazzling gold leaf.

Color was a significant part of the design. Bright blues, reds, yellows, oranges and greens were the most common choices. Generally, males would wear darker colors while women would wear lighter ones. Customized masks were also possible, resulting in a vast array of unique masquerade masks. The masks were accompanied by highly elaborate and ornamental masquerade costumes during the celebrations.

The original masks were symbolic and simple. Over time, masquerade masks became more and more complex. Masquerade masks have not only been used for entertainment but they have also allowed people to hide their identities in order to participate in various activities including romantic ventures and even crime.

Mardi Gras Masks as Art

The Mardi Gras Mask and Its Features

Image of blue venetian maskWhile Mardi Gras masks are being mass produced in modern times, thousands of people continue the tradition of creating handmade masks. This is an art form that has passed down from one generation to another and one culture to another. One can find original Mardi Gras masks from all parts of the world as collectible items or to wear during masked festivals.

Mardi Gras masks have been influenced from various Venetian masks from the 15th Century. This was the time where actual guilds were dedicated to the production of original handcrafted masquerade masks. Traditional masks, including Mardi Gras masks have decorative works of art. A lot of attention to detail and craftsmanship goes into making these disguises.

The most common type of Mardi Gras mask is the half-face one. This type generally covers the top portion of the face in order for the wearer to speak, eat and drink. These masks can be wrapped around the head using ribbon or can be attached to a stick. Individual wearers can then hold the masks and be able to reveal their identities as needed.

Bold and bright colors are typical of Mardi Gras. The traditional trio of colors for Mardi Gras in New Orleans is purple, yellow and green. Over time, participants of the celebrations began to wear masks of all sorts of colors and decorations. Mardi Gras masks are typically covered with bird feathers, beads, gems metallic paints, colorful designs and glitter. The more elaborate the masks are, the livelier the festival ultimately becomes.

By wearing a mask, individuals can conceal their identities from one another and participate in various acts with freedom. One is free from judgment and there is the opportunity to embody a different persona.

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Couples Masquerade Mask, Black Mardi Gras Mask Set, Masquerade Ball Masks, K238
Couples Masquerade Mask, Black Mardi Gras Mask Set, Masquerade Ball Masks, K238
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Mardi Gras Mask Yellow Gold Plated Studs and Cufflinks Set
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Mardi Gras Mask and Fleur De Lis and Beads Tuxedo Cummerbund and Bow Tie Set
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Pier 1 MARDI GRAS Hand Beaded Mask Fleur De Lis PLACEMATS 15
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Vintage Mardi Gras New Orleans Mask Graphic 1987 Blue Size Medium Tee Shirt
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Set: Venetian Style Flamboyant Mardi Gras Maidens Carnevale Mask Wall Sculptures
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GRATEFUL DEAD MARDI GRAS MASK SKELETON SKULL 1993 FEB 21 22 23 CONCERT T SHIRT L
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Christopher Radko
Christopher Radko "MASK CAT RADE" Ornament Collar Mardi Gras Hallowe
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Harlequin Masks

Image of harlequin manThe harlequin has been a central character in many theatrical performances including the Commedia dell’Arte and is one of the more mystical and fantasy-like characters in literature. The origin of the harlequin dates back to the 16th century. He is distinctly known for his dynamic outfit and personality.

Dressed in a colorful diamond checkered outfit with alternating colors, the harlequin jumps around without ever revealing his true identity. His outfit can either be symmetrical or asymmetrical and is usually brightly colored.

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Vintage Venetian Masquerade Carnival Mask Paper Mache Harlequin Jester
Vintage Venetian Masquerade Carnival Mask Paper Mache Harlequin Jester
$14.00
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Pink Vintage Venetian Harlequin Eye mask Party Halloween Costume Mardi Gras Mask
Pink Vintage Venetian Harlequin Eye mask Party Halloween Costume Mardi Gras Mask
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Yellow Vintage Venetian Harlequin Eye mask Party Halloween Costume Mardi Gras
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2 Harlequin Mardi Gras Mask Wall Plaques Ceramic/Bisque Carnival
2 Harlequin Mardi Gras Mask Wall Plaques Ceramic/Bisque Carnival
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Venetian Purple and Blue Harlequin Mask Wall Decor 19
Venetian Purple and Blue Harlequin Mask Wall Decor 19" Mardi Gras New
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Harlequin Mask Necklace Ceramic Long Club Kid Halloween 80s Rare Jewelry
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40K Eldar Harlequin Troupe Heads & Face Mask Bits 7 Bits
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40K Eldar Harlequin Troupe Face Mask Troupe Master Mask Bits 2 Bits
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He is always found wearing a very distinguishable mask that only covers the top part of his face and has a low forehead. The first masks of the harlequin were quite primitive in their physical qualities. This paralleled the character of the harlequin as a figure outside of the norm. Therefore, he needed a more socially recognizable image.

Over time, these masks evolved into more sophisticated ones as his character evolved as well. Once the harlequin was less anarchic and more witty, his masks began to be more stylized.

The first harlequin masks were made of wood and the ones that appeared later were constructed with leather. The features of the mask are cat-like with small round holes for the eyes. The eyebrows are curved, expressing a mischievous quality. The nose is also quite small. A harlequin is found usually with a stocking that covers the lower portion of his face. Today, harlequin masks are colorful and elaborately designed with different materials including beads, feathers, glitter and colorful paint.

The harlequin is a figure of contradictions. He is witty at times but rather slow-thinking at others. He can be clumsy but gracious during his acrobatic stunts. His outfit and appearance are quite rugged but his physical qualities are sleek. To think that the harlequin is simple is actually a mistake.

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About

We love masquerade masks, and we wanted others to be able to find the great selection of masquerade party masks that are available online. Ebay has a fantastic selection and lowest prices on hundreds of masquerade, Venetian, Mardi Gras masks and other party masks on the internet, so we created this site to take the hassle out of searching through the millions of auctions on eBay. We've created several categories and sub-categories of masks for you to browse, and you can quickly get to just the right mask for your next special occasion.

We've also included information about the history and use of masquerade masks, ways to wear masks, and how to pick the best party mask for your next costumed event. If you would like to contact us for any reason, please send us a message through our contact us page.

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