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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Bauta Masquerade Mask Black Detailing
Bauta Masquerade Mask Black Detailing
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Bauta Masquerade Mask Silver Lace
Bauta Masquerade Mask Silver Lace
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Bauta Masquerade Mask Green Argyle
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Bauta Masquerade Mask Black Lace
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Bauta Masquerade Mask Violet Blue Argyle
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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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Mardi Gras Mask Yellow Gold Plated Studs and Cufflinks Set
Mardi Gras Mask Yellow Gold Plated Studs and Cufflinks Set
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Set: Venetian Style Flamboyant Mardi Gras Maidens Carnevale Mask Wall Sculptures
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Set of 2 Exclusive Italian Maidens of Mardi Gras Mask Artist Gabriella Veronese
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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 Halloween Eye Mask
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His & Hers Mardi Gras Masks

his and hers masquerade ball masksElegant His & Hers Masquerade Ball masks for sale. These beautiful matching masks are great for Masquerade Balls and Mardi Gras Parties. These masks are usually silver or gold and are adorned with feathers for the ladies.

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His & Hers Venetian Laser Cut Mardi Gras Pair Couple Masquerade Mask Black
His & Hers Venetian Laser Cut Mardi Gras Pair Couple Masquerade Mask Black
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His and Hers Couple Masquerade Mask Luxury Metal Red Theme Rhinestones
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Couples Masquerade Mask, His & Hers Set, Masquerade Mask Couple M31003, M31131
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His & Hers Mardi Gras Masquerade Mask, Gold Themed Roman Mask Couples Set
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Couples Masquerade Mask, His & Hers Set, Silver Masquerade Mask M31000, M33162
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His & Hers Couple's Phantom Masquerade Mask Black
His & Hers Couple's Phantom Masquerade Mask Black
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His and Hers Couple Masquerade Metal Mask Gold Theme Rhinestones
His and Hers Couple Masquerade Metal Mask Gold Theme Rhinestones
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His & Hers Masquerade Mask Couple Phantom of the Opera Party Prom Dance Eye Mask
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Mardi Gras Stick Mask

Image of Masquerade Stick MasksMardi Gras Wand Masks, also known as Stick Masks, for sale from around the world. A Mardis Gras mask on a wand is an elegant accessory for any kind of party. These beautiful and sophisticated masks won't mess up your hair and save you from the discomfort of a retaining strap.

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Black Lace Stick Opera Mardi Gras Masquerade Costume Halloween Mask
Black Lace Stick Opera Mardi Gras Masquerade Costume Halloween Mask
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Mardi Gras Masquerade Parade Handle stick mask costume Birthday Carnival Party
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Mardi Gras Masquerade Feather stick mask Pair Costume Dress up Carnival Party
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Couple Mardi Gras Masquerade stick handle mask School Halloween Costume Party
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Masquerade stick Feather mask birthday wedding mardi gras costume carnival party
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Black Phantom Masquerade Swan Stick Mask Pair Mardi Gras Costume Dance Prom Gala
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Black Feather Stick Mask Masquerade Ball Mardi Gras Sequin Fabric
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Mardi Gras Mask Wand

The wand mask is also known as the Columbine or Columbina mask. They are usually half masks and highly embellished with gold and other metals and feathers. The stick portion of these masks is used to hold the mask up to one's face. The Columbine, or wand mask was made popular by an actress named Columbina in the Commedia Dell'arte. Legend has it that the wand mask was designed for her because she was so beautiful that she did not want to completely cover her face when wearing a mask.

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Handheld Stick Mask, Women Gold Mardi Gras Metal Venetian Masquerade Mask
Handheld Stick Mask, Women Gold Mardi Gras Metal Venetian Masquerade Mask
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Stick Mask feather Mardi Gras birthday Burlesque party Purple Masquerade Mask
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Jester Stick Mask Purple Decorate or Wear Mardi Gras Masquerade Mask Wall Hangin
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Glittered Mardi Gras Mask with Stick #4 Mardi Gras Decorations Party Supplies
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Mardi Gras Carnival Party Masquerade Ball couple stick handle Feather Mask NEW
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Glittered Mardi Gras Mask with Stick #3 Mardi Gras Decorations Party Supplies
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Mardi Gras Mask with Feathers on Stick Masquerade
Mardi Gras Mask with Feathers on Stick Masquerade
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Black Lace Stick Opera Mardi Gras Masquerade Costume Halloween Mask
Black Lace Stick Opera Mardi Gras Masquerade Costume Halloween Mask
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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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Harlequin Mask Necklace Mardi Gras Party Bead
Harlequin Mask Necklace Mardi Gras Party Bead
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Maschera del Galleon Harlequin Blue/Gold Venetian Jester Mask of City of Venice
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Harlequin Mask Necklace Ceramic Long Club Kid Halloween 80s Rare Jewelry
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NEW GLITTERED HARLEQUIN MASK POLYSTONE EMBLEM W/ GOLD MARDI GRAS BEAD
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Black & White Harlequin Ceramic Mask
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Forum Tri Color Red Black Brown Harlequin Venetian 1/2 Face Mask
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Harlequin Masquerade Half Mask Silver
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Harlequin Masquerade Half Mask Gold
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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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A History of Masquerade Masks

Profile of Masquerade MaskDisguising one’s identity with elaborately painted masks was a significant part of the late 13th Century. Venice was the birthplace of the masquerade and the masks played a central role in society. Beginning on the day of Santo Stefano and ending at midnight of Shrove Tuesday, citizens of Venice would dress in fanciful outfits and eloquent masks to join together in celebration. As masquerade masks became increasingly popular, the mask-makers soon took up their own space in society and became members of a guild.

This became a yearly festival of the city and a whole range of masquerades took place revolving around stories of love, marriage and triumph. The Venetian youth would dress in costumes and masks and entertain the upper classes during the Venetian Carnival. Masquerade balls and elegant dinners were all part of the entertainment. Jugglers, acrobats and traveling exhibits took over the piazza and performed for the public. The sense of the unknown and the disguised allowed for everyone to come together and put aside the social standards of the time. It was a way to rid the individual of his identity so that he can act as he wishes.

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Steampunk Respirator Skull Spike Gas Motorcycle Masquerade Mask for Men Silver
Steampunk Respirator Skull Spike Gas Motorcycle Masquerade Mask for Men Silver
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White Plague Doctor Masquerade Mask Steampunk Long Nose for Halloween Costume
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Unisex Adjustable Plague Doctor with Goggles Bird Beak Masquerade Mask [Black]
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Halloween Masquerade Steampunk Costume Respirator Gas Mask Half Face Gothic Mask
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Party Steampunk Masquerade Silver Gas Mask Respirator Goggles Glasses Halloween
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Couples Masquerade Mask, His & Hers Set, Masquerade Mask Couple M31003, M31131
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Ken Kaneki Inspired Punk Leather Costume Zipper Mouth Masquerade Mask Accessory
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Couples Masquerade Mask, His & Hers Set, Silver Masquerade Mask M31000, M33162
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The story of the masquerade mask and the festivities, however, is not as optimistic as it seems. The earliest record of the Carnival of Venice dates back to 1268 and reveals a sense of opposition towards it. The festival of masks was a way for both the lower and uppers classes to hide their identities in order to freely participate in self-indulgent activities and mingle with the general public. From romantic encounters to murderous crimes, the streets of Venice became subversive and uncontrollable.

Venetians lived in a repressive environment during the Medieval Era, when the wearing of masks began to hold ground. As a result, the Catholic Church went through great lengths to outlaw the masquerades by establishing laws and regulations. The Church failed in banning the processions and eventually accepted the celebrations. The Catholic Church allocated a certain time period for the celebrations in accordance with religious holidays.

The months between Christmas and Shrove Tuesday were dedicated to the masquerades and eventually paved way for Carnevale. Carnevale was associated with pre-Lent traditions and the cleansing of evil spirits.

Masquerade balls and the entire culture surrounding the wearing of masks expanded to other parts of Europe, including England. The masquerades were generally held for the nobility in other parts of the continent. They enjoyed games held during the masquerade balls where guests had the opportunity to reveal each others’ identities.

The masquerade and all its glory began to lose ground during the 18th century. Venice fell under the rule of the Austrians and the celebrations eventually came to an end. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the Carnival experienced a revival and people began to wear masquerade masks all over again. Since then, masquerade masks have become part of the artistic and craft-making culture of Italy as well as other countries. Aside from Venetian masks, there are also Mardi Gras and Harlequin masks. The masquerade mask is not only a historic and traditional part of culture but it is also a tourist attraction in modern times.

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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Mardi Gras Masks

Mardi Gras Masks: Celebrations in Disguise

Image of Masquerade Mardi Gras MasksMardi Gras is a pre-Lent festival that celebrates humanity in disguise on the international level. From Europe to the Caribbean and the United States to Canada, Mardi Gras is a day of celebration right before Shrove Tuesday, or Ash Wednesday. The earliest accounts of Mardi Gras took place during the 14th and 15th century in Europe.

Mardi Gras is actually a Catholic Holiday which has evolved to bigger celebrations and festivities in various parts of the world. It is quite similar to the Carnival in Venice except that it does not extend over a few months. Mardi Gras is distinct for its colorful decorations and lively spirits. The Mardi Gras mask is a symbolic and significant feature of the entire celebration.

Mardi Gras is widely recognized as a large scale festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. Mardi Gras was introduced to the United States by the French in the city of New Orleans in 1699. The French explorers arrived to town during the holiday and began to celebrate according to tradition. They wore masks in the streets and participated in processions. Over time, New Orleans became influenced by Hispanic versions of the festival but never lost the French essence.

Masks are a central feature of Mardi Gras and are worn during masked balls, street parades and night time parties. They come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colors. Mardi Gras masks tend to have some influence of Venetian half-face masks that are adorned in gems, feathers and brightly colored paint.

The idea of identity is a major theme during Mardi Gras and other similar celebrations. It is a way of concealing ones identity from friends and neighbors in order to freely participate in all sorts of activities. Mischievous behavior has been a long standing aspect of Mardi Gras and the mask helps cover the identity of such individuals. Masks are worn by Krewe members, tourists, and citizens of the city during the last hours of Fat Tuesday. It is a way of self-indulging into acts that are normally against the standard. Wearing the masks and being part of the festival embodies the idea of letting go of the flesh before Lent begins.

Wearing masks during celebrations, festivals and even rituals is a significant part of many cultures across the world. Mardi Gras masks and other types of masks are tied to pre-Christian practices and traditions in various countries. It is tied to religious practices that involve spiritual performances where the performers must communicate with the spirits. Often times, these masks are worn to get rid of evil spirits. While masquerades and other masked events have always been tied to religious practices, the nature of these celebrations has changed in modern and contemporary life.

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Mardi Gras Mask Green Lame' Fabric Eye Mask W/ Sequin & Feathers
Mardi Gras Mask Green Lame' Fabric Eye Mask W/ Sequin & Feathers
$11.98
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Scroll Ornament Mardi Gras Mask Set 4 Assorted Not Wearable Party Favors
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Mardi Gras Mask Purple & Blk Glitter Fabric Eye Mask W/ Feathers & Beads
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Mardi Gras Mask Silver Lame' Fabric Eye Mask With Sequin & Feather Trim
Mardi Gras Mask Silver Lame' Fabric Eye Mask With Sequin & Feather Trim
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Mardi Gras Mask Red & Gold Brocade Fabric Venetian Style Eye Mask With Headband
Mardi Gras Mask Red & Gold Brocade Fabric Venetian Style Eye Mask With Headband
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Mardi Gras Mask Blk. & Wht. Harlequin Style Fabric Eye Mask With Feathers & Lace
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Mardi Gras Mask Black Panther Fabric 1/2 Face Asian Animal Costume Mask
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Venetian Mardi Gras Jester Joker Masquerade Mask Fabric Embroidery Black Gold
Venetian Mardi Gras Jester Joker Masquerade Mask Fabric Embroidery Black Gold
$32.25
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