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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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.