Types of Masks

There are many different types of masks with their own meanings and interpretations. The traditional Bauta was the most common mask worn. Originating around 1600, the Bauta mask was worn by both men and women of different social status. The main purpose of wearing this mask was for the person to stay concealed; the mask’s form enables the wearer to eat and drink while still being hidden. The Bauta was not usually worn alone, but with a typical wardrobe. The outfit included a cloak and a tri-corn hat.

Guerrino Lovato, “The Bauta Mask,” www.mondonovomaschere.it/

A mask exclusively worn by patrician women is named the Moretta. The petite oval shape of the mask although has no opening for the wearer’s mouth, it does incorporate eye openings for the women to see.

Guerrino Lovato “The Moretta Mask,” www.mondonovomaschere.it/

The flamboyant Gnaga mask was usually reserved for patrician men who enjoyed indulging in homosexual rendezvous. Societal norms in Venetian society would not approve of patrician men to behave in such a way, yet the Gnaga mask allowed noblemen the social freedom and anonymity to explore certain desires. The Gnaga mask exhibits cat-like features that ties in with its playful nature.[1]

Guerrino Lovato,”The Gnaga Mask,” www.mondonovomaschere.it/

Apart from certain masks’ lightheartedness, some masks were intended for specific occupations.  The “Plague Doctor” mask played a serious part in sixteenth-century Venice.  These masks were worn by doctors who were treating patients for the plague. The mask included a long beak-like nose for the doctor to place herbs and spices in order to protect himself from the very disease that was being treated. The doctors’ uniform consisted of this particular mask, a coat, and gloves. From its grave origins, this mask has come to serve as a symbol of death.[2]

Guerrino Lovato, “The Plague Doctor Mask,” www.mondonovomaschere.it/

[1] Guerrino Lovato, “Mondonovo,” www.mondonovomaschere.it/

(accessed September 6, 2008).

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