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Audrey Reid | profile | all galleries >> Carnival of Venice tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Carnival of Venice

The week long event is famous for its elaborate masks, costumes, concerts and balls that take place through the main ‘city’ of narrow streets, squares, waterways and palaces.

The carnival is thought to date back to the 12th/13th century.
The subversive nature of the festival is reflected in the many laws created over the centuries in Italy attempting to restrict celebrations in general.

During the carnival, Masks and elaborate costumes are traditionally a central feature, men & women disguise their identities behind elaborate masks and gowns.
The many different disguises provided the wearers with complete anonymity. In days gone by it was a brief pressure valve to ease class tensions, allowing the poor,a controlled period of break from Venice's rigid, Oligarchical social order.

The original masks were rather simple in design and decoration. They often had a symbolic and practical function. Often crafted from leather or formed in papier-mâché.
In the carnival's heydays, Mask makers (mascareri) enjoyed privileged positions in society, empowered with their own laws and their own guild.





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