Noilly Prattle: For J. S. -- Masks

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

For J. S. -- Masks

     J., you mentioned the use of masking during the Carnival of Venice (same as Mardi Gras in other countries, i.e., New Orleans in the US) and asked me about museums of period clothing and jewelry, etc., here in Venice.

       I don't know if people wore masks for half the year in Venice (seems a bit of an exaggeration) but masking is common in many European countries for the celebration of the season preceding Lent. I suspect it may contain echoes from festivals that celebrated the return of Spring in “pagan” societies. As you suggested masking encourages less decorous and more uninhibited behavior as I suspect it is designed to do.

typical souvenir shop selling masks
       At any rate, I haven't seen any museums dedicated specifically to masks and period clothes (although that doesn't mean that there aren't any), but souvenir shops that sell masks and display period costumes are just about all over the place around here. All you have to do is walk along and point your camera. Here, just for you, is a small sample of Carnival masks.

there may be a horse's ass, too?
this lady seems to have lost her head

read what you like into these smirks
beautifully jeweled and feathered mask in red and gold

man and woman period costume (looks like 18th Century style)

small faces within the eye sockets are intriguing
(probably only for display purposes)

a lady of mystery
rather simple but pretty dress
(doesn't seem suitable for a mask)

the belle of the masked ball

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