Here is a story for your enjoyment. Some of it is fact....some myth....and some our own thoughts.
Carnevale was not merely entertainment but was deeply rooted in history and culture of the world. It came into its own during the eighteenth century. Europe regarded Venice as a kind of licentious, magical capital. A strange crowd of fire-eaters, tumblers, sellers of miracle potions and wild animal tamers appeared and performed in the squares and on bridges. The use of masks was predominant.
During this era, Carnevale started shortly after Christmas and extended to Ash Wednesday. Everyone took part in the entertainment and collective revelry, rich and poor, locals and strangers, senators and populace, all mingling together and indistinguishable beneath their masks!
The mask and costume created illusions by putting everyone on the same level...rich and poor...lovely and ugly. Historically, masks were worn for several months of the year because they represented a kind of loss of identity for the person.
Masks were the hallmark of Carnevale in Venice. The practice of wearing masks for disguise reached its zenith in the 18th century when Venetians of different social classes used Carnevale as an excuse for promiscuity.
By the end of that century, Venice was partially controlled by the Austrian. Imperialists and masks virtually disappeared along with Carnevale when Napoleon's troops brought an end to the Venetian Republic in 1797.
In the 1980's, Venice revived Carnevale and it continues to this day as a spectacular event culminating on Martedi Grasso or Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday).
The Venetian Mask
The profession of mask making was founded in Venice, Italy in April 1436 by the Masters of the Painters Guild.
The artist pressed papier mache into molds and coated the mask with plaster. He then applied a second layer of papier mache, lined the back of the mask with gauze and placed it in an oven to stiffen it. Finally he trimmed the edges and hand painted the result. This tradition of hand crafting masks has remained unchanged for hundreds of years.