The Venetian Mask
The profession of mask making was founded in Venice, Italy in April 1436 by the Masters of the Painters Guild.
These masks are the work of Franco, one of the few master mask makers in Venice. The artist presses papier mache into molds and coats the mask with plaster. He then applies a second layer of papier mache, lines the back of the mask with gauze and places it in an oven to stiffen it. Finally, he trims the edges and hand paints the result. This tradition of hand crafting masks has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
The mask and costume create illusions...by putting everyone on the same level...rich and poor...lovely and ugly, etc. Historically, masks were worn for several months of the year because they represented a kind of loss of identity for the person.
Masks are the hallmark of Carnevale in Venice. The practice of wearing masks for disguise reached its zenith in the 18th century when Venetians of different social classes used Carnevale as an excuse for promiscuity.