There’s something magical about Venetian masks – something about that blend of mystery, craftsmanship and tradition that has been captivating travelers for centuries now.
Far from the seedy beginnings we may imagine, Venetian masks were initially used as a political aid. During rallies and public meetings in the Republic of Venice, citizens wore masks so that any voting they did in town squares or halls would be anonymous. As time went on they became a part of society life, a great equalizer between the classes during festivals and parties. They had less positive uses too – they were worn by adulterers and by criminals as disguises.
In time, as masks became more and more a part of Venetian culture, mask-makers became some of the most important people in the city. They had their own guild and their own laws and they were valued throughout Venice as skilled craftsmen.
These days, Venetian masks are a little less commonly worn – confined mostly to Carnival and its famous galas, but they remain nonetheless, an important part of Venetian culture. For a souvenir with real sentimental value (and some great memories too), you can attend a mask-making workshop in Venice.
After visiting the store where Stanley Kubrick bought his masks for ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, guests move on to a workshop where a local expert guides you through the different models and their meanings. You’ll learn the tricks of the trade before being given everything you need to make your own Venetian mask – a pre-made papier-mâché mold, feathers, paint, sequins… the lot!
Afterwards, Venetian mask in hand only one question remains – what will you use yours for?