The History of Venetian Masks and Murano Glass
Venetian masks are synonymous with historical 13th Century Venice, La Commedia del'Arte play, theatre, the celebrations of Carnival and Mardi Gras, as well as mysterious and elaborate masquerade balls all over the world.
As history can trace back the first laws governing mask wearing in Venice to the 13th century, no one truly knows the exact origins of daily mask wearing in Venice, adding even more to the mysterious and magical aura of Venetian masks.
Traditionally the bauta mask was used during the 13th century, accompanied by the classic tabarro (Venetian Cloak), lovely lace zendale, and a tricorno hat to conceal the identity of the wearer.
It is during the 13th century that laws prohibited Venetian people from wearing masks year round. People were allowed to wear masks from December 26th (St Stephen's Day) to Shrove Tuesday, giving birth to Venetian Carnivale.
By the 18th Century, the Venetian Republic had fallen to Napoleon and became governed under Austrian rule. Venetian mask wearing became prohibited. This continued even through the 1930s as Mussolini's fascist party prohibited the tradition. Venetian Carnivale was halted for almost two centuries.
It wasn't until 1979 that local Venetian artisans revived the long ancient tradition and Carnivale is celebrated yearly, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras)
Whether it is a Venetian Jolly Mask, a traditional bauta mask, a Carnivale masks, or a stunning masquerade masks, you can be assured that each piece has a part of history, culture and magic from Venice, Italy.
Murano Glass - elegance, beauty, sophistication, grandeur, these are just a few words that come to mind when we speak of this world famous Venetian glass.
While Murano may not have been the origin of glass making, it certainly has made it world famous throughout the centuries. This artisan craft has been practiced the same way for centuries; utilizing the same techniques and primitive tools that the original glass masters did.
Many historians date Murano glass making back to the 9th Century. History has it that during the period of the Venetian Republic in the 13th century, glass makers were forced to move to the island of Murano for fear that their craft and furnaces might ignite the city causing fiery destruction to the mostly wooden buildings of Venice. This was the beginning of the magic of Murano glass. For centuries the Murano glassmakers, while refining and inventing new techniques, from crystalline glass, millefiori, lattimo to mirror making, held almost a monopoly on the world's glass industry.
Up until the 1600s, the majority of the world's glass production was coming out Murano. While it is by no means the only place that glass is hand blown today it can still be distinguished by its natural resources. The Venetian lagoon's sand (silica) has some of the highest concentration of quartz in the world.
Whether it's the beauty of Murano glass sculptures, the charm of Murano glass jewelry or a stunning Murano glass chandelier, one can be certain that centuries of tradition, artisanship and a touch of magic goes into each Murano glass piece.