Rome Private Guides


Office Number from 9am - 3.30pm: +39 06 69226693

Venetian mask making: unveiling the artistry of carnival masks

Taking place every year in the magical city of Venice, the Venice Carnival is one of the oldest and most important carnival celebrations in the world. During the event, which takes place over 10 days leading up to Martedì Grasso (Fat Tuesday), the city fills up with flamboyant masks and costumes. The masks in particular are worldwide known as one of the main symbols of the city of Venice and there are many reasons behind this that we will explore today.

Let’s find out something more about the Venetian Mask making and the Venice Carnival!



Back in the day, the Venetian Carnival was celebrated over a longer period, going from December 26th to Lent and that’s when the tradition of mask-making began. Venetians thought of making masks to disguise their identity and take place in the celebration regardless of their social status or class. Because of this, people from lower classes could party and engage in fun activities with the higher class. This was not all good though, since some malicious people would use the masks to cover up some illicit affairs or even murders!



As previously mentioned, the Carnival Venetian masks are one of the most known symbols of the city of Venice. When Venetians first started celebrating Carnival, the masks were much simpler than they are today but they definitely set the foundations for more complex masks. They’re made with gesso and white paint, but more on this later.


Here’s a list of the different types of Venetian masks and how you can distinguish them:


  • THE BAUTA MASK: This mask is usually sold as a souvenir because of its historical importance. Its shape allows you to easily eat and drink but still hides your entire face, giving you complete anonymity;
  • THE PLAGUE DOCTOR MASK: This mask was originally invented to protect people from the Plague by a doctor named Charles de Lorme. It then became a Carnival mask symbolizing mortality;
  • THE COLOMBINA FULLY FEATHERED: This mask is considered to be one of the most elegant masks and it’s mainly worn by women who are looking to achieve a mysterious look;
  • THE MORETTA MASK: Typically worn by women, this mask is recognizable for its oval shape and the fact that it’s strapless. You had to hold it by biting on a button inside the mask;



As said before, the Venetian Masks are made with gesso and white paint and decorated when dry with hand-painted drawings and often refined with pearls, feathers and gems. 

Creating a Venetian Carnival Mask requires a lot of technique and capability. To make one, you first need to sculpt what you have in mind with clay, then you must pour a mixture of plaster and water on the clay. Once it’s dry, you must create the mold in reverse, which you will cover with paper and extract once dry. The structure of the mask is then finished and only needs to be decorated!



If you want to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the city of Venice, visiting the city during its Carnival is definitely a must. This will give you the chance to explore the beauty of its traditions uniquely! If you want to get to know more about the city of Venice and Italy in general, make sure you book a tour with us!

12th Nov 2023