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Carnival masks and costumes

The Venice Carnival is famed worldwide also thanks to its masks. The use of masks during the Carnival period is a very old tradition but it was in 18th-century Venetian society that people started using them to conceal their identities… and not just during the Carnival period!

There are many Venetian craft workshops where artisans make splendid papier-maché Carnival masks mainly inspired by the Commedia dell’Arte characters like the amusing faces of Harlequin, Punch or Pantalone, as well as the typical Venetian masks of local tradition like the mysterious Venetian “Bauta”, a squarish, usually dark-coloured mask, the little black velvet “Moretta” mask used by women or the sadly famed long-beaked “Plague Doctor”.

As well as mask making, Venice also has an artisan tradition specialised in producing splendid Carnival costumes, designed and made by the leading Venetian tailors and using only the finest fabrics: damasks, brocades, oriental silks…

If you’re interested in finding out more about the history and traditions of Venetian weavers and clothmakers, why not pay a visit to the Museo del Tessuto e del Costume in Palazzo Mocenigo?

Many Venetian workshops still design, make and sell period costumes; among the most famous are the Atelier Pietro Longhi and the Atelier Nicolao.

As far as fabric making is concerned there is the celebrated Rubelli firm, founded in 1858 and housed in Palazzo Corner Spinelli together with a showroom open to the public, as well as the Atelier Bevilacqua founded in 1953 which houses a number of stunning antique fabric collections.

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