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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Masks: a Venetian love affair

Venetians loved to wear masks at any given opportunity, to the point where, for security reasons, in the second half of 1200 laws had to be put in place to specify where, when and who was allowed to walk around masked.
Venetians wore the masks primarily to hide their social standing more than for hiding their own identity, that way allowing even the noble man to be kind of in incognito. Any servant could be mistaken for an aristocrat, and vice versa. Men and women could be flirting more freely, without the fear of moral judgment and have less inhibitions. You often could not even tell women from men!
The history of the Venetian masks might also be founded on the nature of this maritime town and by the characters of its inhabitants.
Venice was one of the most important and wealthy powers of the time, with a high standard of living even for the average citizen.
Venice was also a small community, inside a town of narrow roads, both of water and stones.
On the other side, the Venetians were seamen, merchants, adventurers. They ruled over a big part of the eastern Mediterraneo and they were used to the openness and freedom of the sea.
So wishing to keep that feeling of freedom once they were at home, they loved to wear a mask.
Towards the last decades of the Venetian Republic, the Venetian were allowed to wear masks only during the Carnival and parties.
The penalty for not observing those laws were strong sanctions.
From Venice With Love,
Giada




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