The traditional masks of Venice

The mask is the precious completion that makes each costume unique and distinguishable. An essential accessory in the baggage of the actor's stage clothes, it can also suffice on its own, worn with a simple black domino, to create the disguise for the Carnival parade, perhaps losing itself among the thousand other mysterious figures that populate San Marco Square.


Venice, city of encounter between East and West, since ancient times welcomed among its calli what ships from all over the known world transported from overseas. The precious goods, the spices and the flavors of legendary lands, but also mice and with them the plagues (and here is perhaps one of the reasons why Venice loves cats that have always populated it so much), as well as the incalculable quantity of mythical stories and religious beliefs of distant peoples. Like Egypt and one of its most revered deities, the cat goddess Bastet, in whose honor the ancient Egyptians celebrated processions and orgiastic rites.

Even in Venice the story of the cat’s mask is somehow linked to the carnal pleasures of love. In fact it originates from the gnaga, a traditional Venetian mask with feline features, used by young boys who loved to dress up as women and found delight in bothering passers-by with jokes and scurrilous jokes, emitting a verse similar to that of cats ‘gnau, gnau’ (hence the term gnaga), to make fun of them and maliciously attract eventual clients, taking them away from prostitutes of the Ponte delle Tette.

Even today, the cat mask is one of the most popular and loved by all.


Colombina, the mischievous companion of Arlecchino, is the character of the Art Comedy that best represents femininity, thanks to its innate shrewdness and its flirtatious attitude. The mask brought by Colombina in fact can also be called civetta.

All the classic masks that cover only the contours of the eyes are called colombines or civette. They can be both male and female, depending on the color, shape and decoration. Simple or showy, they offer an infinite number of possible choices to satisfy even the most particular tastes.


The idea of masking with feathers has atavistic origins, to be sought in the human desire to appear seductive, like the peacock when it shows the majesty of its tail.

The feathers enclose a strong, purely erotic symbolism, they allude to an archetype of animalistic appeal and are therefore very attractive and always appealing.


The jester is storyteller, buffoon and juggler.

The jesters are figures present since ancient times and in the different cultures of the world. You could meet them in the streets, where they lived during the day wandering and making the storytellers, or being hosted in the rich courts for fun sovereigns. In history they became an element of union between popular tradition and cultured literature.


The zanni is one of the oldest Italian masks. In fact, the Comedy of the Arts, in its early sixteenth century, was often referred to as the Comedy of the Zanni. This tragicomic character represents the servant always in dispute with his master and appears even in the first drafts of the street actors. With the time and the evolution of the various characters in the theatrical sphere, the mask of the Zanni left room for other cunning or foolish servants, each with particular characteristics and different proper names, such as the famous Arlecchino and Pulcinella.

The zanni mask is usually characterized by its long nose, which may have different features.

Suns and Moons

Just let the moving waters calm down, and the sun and the moon will reflect on the surface of your being” (Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī).

Moon and Sun are symbols of love. They are the feminine and the masculine that run between night and day from the beginning of time.