Masks – fun and mystery for everyone!

Masks in our SCA time period were often made with papier mache or leather. You could also buy a pre-made mask and cut into it, or add to it using modelling clay, to make a different shape. Leather can be dyed and painted – papier mache can as well, of course, and then embellishments added like feathers and sequins.

Wearing and using masks to conceal identity in Venice has a very long history. Masks are connected to the Carnivale dating back to at least the 13th century, and also Commedia del Arte, a form of theatre which was developed and became extremely fashionable in the mid-late 16th Century. Nearly every Venetian would be familiar with the different Commedia masks and the characters they represent.

The image on this page shows a lady going to the Carnivale, wearing a Moretta, and accompanied by two gents wearing Commedia masks. It’s a sketch known as Venetian Revellers, painted by Niclauss Kippell around 1588.

This page has a nice short video, and some good information, although some of the masks in the shop are very modern. The Bauta, Medico della peste and Moretta (Vizard or Visard in France and England) are all recognisable, as are the Commedia del Arte Masks.

Here’s a link to searching for “Commedia del Arte Masks” on Pinterest. I’m not sure if it will work for everyone, seeing as I was logged into my own account at the time, but that was the search criteria. There are lots of gorgeous Commedia images, some masks and some costumes and history, both in and out of our time period:…

As mentioned just above, Moretta is the Italian term for the mask that the English and French would call a Visard, or Vizard. These were used in both to conceal identity (and create an air of mystery), and to protect a lady’s face from the sun. They can also be somewhat confronting! Moretta can be full or half-face, and very suitable/appropriate for going to a ball. This is a google-image search for Moretta:…