The first hints of the use of masks in Venice date back to 1200 when the Doge Enrico Dandolo recounts the use by women of Constantinople to walk with their face covered.
Other evidences and documents are found around the fifteenth century, when the craft of “mascareri” is officially recognized, the artists and the painters with the ability and wisdom to apply plaster on the papier-mâché faces.
In 1773 there were already 12 masks workshops that used both the waxed canvas and the papier mache to create ever new masks. The typical mask is the Bauta that also consists of a black cloak or cape and tricorn. This costume was used by men and women routinely to go to the theater, in casinos, to walk and also to maintain anonymity.
In the seventeenth century, however, the use of the mask became part of the theater phenomenon with the Commedia dell’Arte by Carlo Goldoni, who wrote a witty and comic theatrical genre with actors who improvised and spoke in dialect.
Some of the famous characters in the world are:
Harlequin. A famous mask from Bergamo.
In the Comedy it is represented as a clumsy servant wearing a dress with colored patches many times together with the maidservant Colombina, she is vain and coquettish represented as a mistress or girlfriend of Harlequin.
Pantalone. Elderly man with a hooked nose wearing a red costume with black coat. He is a frugal and stingy merchant. Its origin is from Venice (he speaks in Venetian dialect).
Zanni. Another mask from Bergamo. He is an ignorant servant with the rough character of a farmer.