A mask is an artifact normally worn on the face, typically for protection, concealment, performance, or amusement. A Venetian mask is a decorative mask that is typically made by using paper mâché.  There are different shapes and sizes; one resembling a cat, one a plague doctor, and another is simply a half mask, etc. 

Going back as far as the Medieval period and the Renaissance, the people of Venice participated in a 10-day festival called Carnevale. During this festival people of all different classes participated in the festival in which the main focus is to wear a mask that would disguise them.  Wearing these masks allowed them to participate in activities that their daily lives would not normally allow.  A mask-maker of these creations were called mascherari.

Decorative Characteristics of Venetian Masks

  • Elongated checker pattern called a Harlequin pattern
  • Bright red, pursed lips
  • bold and rich colours
  • decorative papers
  • intricate gold details
  • lavish feathers

The 4 Humours

The 4 Humours is a theory of the make-up and workings of the human body adopted by many philosophers.  This philosophy that goes back as early as the Ancient Greek period and essentially says that the human body was filled with four basic substances called the 4 humours.  These four substances are considered to be related to the four temperaments and four personalities.  They are also closely related to the four Elements and four seasons.

HumoursTypical BehavioursSubstanceSeasonsElements
Sanguinearrogant, cranky, indulgent, and confident, day dreamer, off task, impulsive, unpredictable Blood Spring

 

(hot, wet)

Air
CholericDoer, leader, ambitious, energetic, passionate, dominating, military leaders, political leaders, angered, bad-tempered Yellow Bile Summer

 

(hot, dry)

Fire
MelancholyThoughtful, kind, considerate, highly creative, over-preoccupation with the tragedies cruelties of the world, perfectionist. Black Bile Autumn

 

(dry, cold)

Earth
Phlegmaticself-content, kind, shy, lazy, resistance to change, consistent, relaxed, rational, curious, and observant, reliable, compassionate, dependable Phlegm Winter

 

(wet, cold)

Water

 

Types of Masks

Jolly: A stunning, full-faced Venetian masquerade mask with points made of highly decorative document paper.  Finished with pearls and bells. Also available in Red, Blue and Black marbled paper.

Bauta: An extremely popular traditional carnival mask in the original Venetian style.  Finished in decorative paper, this mask is a true work of art and will make an impact at any Masquerade ball or masked Venetian event.

Nose: The long beak of this mask was made to keep substances which it was believed would protect the doctor from being infected by the plague.

Columbine: A very pretty traditional face mask with ribbon ties. Available in blue only – finished with gold glitter and decorative trims.

Gatto: Gatto or “The Cat”, a lovely tie on Venetian face mask in the ever popular “Harlequin” finish.

Volto: A beautiful, full-faced, traditional carnival mask with ribbon ties.  Painted in red and gold and featuring music manuscript paper detail.

Cite this article as: William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team), "Venetian Masks: History, Humours, Types," in SchoolWorkHelper, 2019, https://schoolworkhelper.net/venetian-masks-history-humours-types/.

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Maggie
Maggie
9 years ago

We happen to lookthru your website on internet and found some of your masks are exactly same as ours.So I’m wondering whether we can build business relationship with you ?

We’re a Chinese supplier of Venice style paper masks. With traditional handicraft skill passed down from generation to generation, we provide a wide selection of fantastic masks which are updated in line with current Venice masks. Owing to good quality and reasonable prices, our masks are exported to worldwide : North America, Europe , South America……etc.