TITLE: Bauta Carnival Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
SUBREGION: Venice
ETHNICITY: Italian
DESCRIPTION: Bauta
MAKER: Graziano “Safir” Viale (Lonigo [Vicenza], 1959- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2013
MAIN MATERIAL: leather
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; hardware

The bauta (“face”) is a classic Venetian carnival mask that covers the top part of the face to allow anonymity without interfering with the masquerader’s ability to speak, drink, or eat.  This is one of the oldest masks used in Venice for Carnival and masquerade balls, and was typically worn with a flowing black costume and a large three-corner hat.

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TITLE: Sardinian Issohadore
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
SUBREGION: Mamoiada, Sardinia
ETHNICITY: Italian (Sardinian)
DESCRIPTION: Issohadore
MAKER: Ruggero Mameli (Mamoiada, 1954- )
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2010
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: oil-based paint; leather straps; metal hardware

The people of Sardinia celebrate Carnival with a unique tradition whose origin is the subject of much debate. Most participants in the Carnival parade in the region of Mamoiada wear costumes and masks of one of two characters: the Issohadore and Mamuthone. The Issohadores dress in a bright military costume and wear a white mask. Soha in Sardinian means “lasso,” which is what the Issohadores carry to encircle and abduct young women in the crowd while they guard the troop of black-masked Mamuthones. Some hypothesize that the Issohadore represents the Spanish conqueror of Sardinia in 1717, and the Mamuthones represent the oppressed Sardinian peasantry. Although the Carnival tradition seems to be much older, it may have been shaped by these historical events.

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TITLE: Commedia dell’Arte Pantalone
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
ETHNICITY: Italian
DESCRIPTION: Don Pantalone Mask
MAKER: Alan G. Newman, Ubud, Bali (b. London, England)
CEREMONY: Commedia dell’Arte; Carnival
AGE: 2012
MAIN MATERIAL: leather
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; goat hair; elastic strap

The Commedia dell’Arte was a form of public entertainment that succeeded the classical Roman theater in Italy.  Like classical theater, Commedia performers wore leather masks to represent stock characters and often performed in amphitheaters to large audiences.  However, the Commedia differed in having only a very basic plot sketch, with most of the lines invented extemporaneously by the actors.  The Commedia‘s ability to stay topical and its frequent resort to vulgar humor, combined with the considerable talent of Italian troupes that traveled throughout Europe, made this form of theater extremely popular throughout the early 17th to late 19th centuries. Masked actors had to compensate for their inability to convey facial emotion through posture, gesture, and vocal nuance.

Don Pantalone was long among the most popular stock characters of the Commedia. Pantalone is a money-grubbing business man, now old and retired, and apt to fall absurdly in love with young women.

This specific Pantalone comes from classically trained mask maker Alan G. Newman.

To learn more about Commedia dell’Arte, see Pierre Louis Duchartre, The Italian Comedy (Dover Pubs., 1966).

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TITLE: Volto Carnival Mask
TYPE: mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
SUBREGION: Venice
ETHNICITY: Italian
DESCRIPTION: Volto
MAKER: Carta Alta, Venice
CEREMONY: Carnival
AGE: 2011
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; ribbon

The volto (“face”) is a classic Venetian Carnival mask that covers the entire face for maximum anonymity. The lack of an opening, like the bauta mask, makes it appear more natural but less functional, as the masquerader must remove the mask for eating and drinking, and speaking is obstructed by the lack of a mouth opening.

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TITLE: Commedia dell’Arte Brighella
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Europe
COUNTRY: Italy
ETHNICITY: Italian
DESCRIPTION: Brighella Mask
MAKER: Denis “Den” Durand (Versailles, France; 1960- )
CEREMONY: Commedia dell’Arte; Carnival
AGE: 1995
MAIN MATERIAL: leather
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; elastic strap

The Commedia dell’Arte was a form of public entertainment that succeeded the classical Roman theater in Italy.  Like classical theater, Commedia performers wore leather masks to represent stock characters and often performed in amphitheaters to large audiences.  However, the Commedia differed in having only a very basic plot sketch, with most of the lines invented extemporaneously by the actors.  The Commedia‘s ability to stay topical and its frequent resort to vulgar humor, combined with the considerable talent of Italian troupes that traveled throughout Europe, made this form of theater extremely popular throughout the early 17th to late 19th centuries. Masked actors had to compensate for their inability to convey facial emotion through posture, gesture, and vocal nuance.

Brighella was long among the most popular stock characters of the Commedia. Brighella was generally portrayed as an amoral opportunist. He could be a thief, a hustler, a jack-of-all-trades, and a layabout.  His mask was always represented with a cruel hooked nose or a slightly piggish rounded nose, and usually a beard and mustache.

This specific Brighella comes from a skilled French maker trained at the prestigious École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Metiers d’Art in Paris.

To learn more about Commedia dell’Arte, see Pierre Louis Duchartre, The Italian Comedy (Dover Pubs., 1966).

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