History of the Venice Carnival

January 22, 2020



February 02, 2010

With the annual Venice Carnival all set to get underway again this Saturday (it runs from 6 February to 16 February this year), we thought we’d join in the festivities here in Nottingham by showcasing some of our brand-new Luxury Authentic Venetian Mask designs.

Venetian Masks have always been a central feature of the Carnival of Venice, of course, ever since the inaugural festival, believed to have been in 1296.  They were traditionally worn by the Venetians between Boxing Day and the climax of the Carnival on Shrove Tuesday, the last day before lent.   Rich and poor could celebrate together under the veil of their masks, which helped to release inhibitions and protect anonymity during the Carnival period.
Mask-makers (masherari) enjoyed a special position in Venetian society, with a statute of their own dated 10 April 1436.
By the seventeenth century, the Grand Tourists had got wind of the debauchery that went on during the Carnival, and they descended on Venice in their tens of thousands each year to join in the fun!
The party was halted when the  Venetian  Republic fell to the Austrians at the end of the 18th century, however, and they promptly banned the Carnival.  There was an attempt to revive it after reunification in 1866, but it was again banned when Mussolini came to power and the wearing of masks was forbidden under fascist law.
It wasn’t until 1979 that the Carnival was revived once more, by a group of young Venetians interested in the tradition and cultural history of their city.  Today, it attracts up to a million visitors to  Venice every year.
The art of mask-making has also been revived.  The papier-mache Venetian mask bases we use for our Luxury Authentic Venetian Mask range are all made in  Venice, using traditional techniques and methods dating back hundreds of years.
We’ve given them a twist and added extra gorgeousness, drawing on our own history and traditions, such as the Nottingham Lace used on many of our designer masks
Our male Venetian masks come in a range of colours too – many of them unique to us….
So, if you’re off to a Venetian or Masquerade Ball in the next few days, or even off to  Venice for the Carnival itself, have a wonderful time.  And if you’re not, well, there’s always pancakes…..

Martin Peach.


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