I am about to let you in on a little known secret. Or, at least, it was little known to me before last week.
Not all Venetian Carnival Masks are made in Venice! In fact, many are not even made in Italy. They are made, to order, right here in Albania!
Fine. My secret was not life changing. Not was my trip to the mask factory in skoder. However, it was really really fun.
Fun facts from Wikipedia:
- The mascherari (or mask-makers) had their own statute dated 10 April 1436. They belonged to the fringe of painters and were helped in their task by sign-painters who drew faces onto plaster in a range of different shapes and paying extreme attention to detail.
- Venetian masks can be made in leather, porcelain or with the original glass technique. The original masks were rather simple in design, decoration, and often had a symbolic and practical function. Nowadays, most of them are made with the application of gesso and gold leaf and are all hand-painted using natural feathers and gems to decorate.
- There is very little evidence explaining the motive for the earliest mask wearing in Venice. One scholar argues that covering the face in public was a uniquely Venetian response to one of the most rigid class hierarchies in European history.
- A law in 1339 forbade Venetians from wearing vulgar disguises and visiting nun’s convents while masked.
- Today, approximately 3 million visitors come to Venice every year for Carnivals.