In this article called Italian Carnival Masks (Le Maschere di Carnevale italiane), I am going to talk about the typical Italian masks. Their origin dates back to the XVI century, but they are still popular, and they still have a certain charm, especially on the little ones.
Read more to discover these masks and their peculiarity!
“Viva viva il Carnevale con il pepe con il sale
La tristezza manda via e ci porta l’allegria…”
In this way began a Carnival song I used to listen to when I was a child, with the other children. Carnival is actually all that: a magical time during which everyone, young and old, can play someone else: they can be fairies, superheroes, princesses, ghosts, witches, and wizards…
But alongside all these, let’s say, “international” costumes, in Italy we have many masks, or better characters, that are part of our history and culture in every way.
These masks are typical of the Comedy of Art, which spread in Italy in the 16th century. The characteristics of the Comwdy of Art were the improvisation and the constant presence of characters with peculiarities that won the viewer over: the way of speaking, the character, the origin, the bizarre clothes…
The Italian masks
Here are some of the classic Italian costumes, the best-known ones, and those that attracted my attention more than the others as a child.
- Arlecchino: Who is the Italian, especially as a child, that did not dressed himself up as Arlecchino?
He is the Carnival mask par excellence. He wears colored trousers and a shirt with diamond shapes, and, in the Comedy of Art, he represents the lively and clever servant always ready to make troubles.
- Pulcinella: alongside Arlecchino is one of the best-known masks. Pulcinella is the emblem of Neapolitanity, as it embodies the typical characteristics of the Neapolitan people: exuberance, irony, and being practical and disenchanted. He is dressed in white from head to toe, except for a black mask that covers his face.
- Colombina: It is one of the few female characters in the Commedia of Art, and it is the most famous. Of Venetian origin, she represents the clever and graceful maid, always involved with the amorous intrigues of her mistress, Rosaura. Colombina wears a wide skirt with pockets, in which she hides the Rosaura’s love letters.
- Dottor Balanzone: is a doctor of law, and not in medicine as I thought as a child. He is talkative, smart and conceited. His speeches are often endless and rambunctious. But despite this, everyone turns to this character for advice. He is dressed in black and wears the typical gown of the professors of the University of Bologna, his city of origin.
These characters are just some of the masks of the Comedy of Art, the most representative ones and which, as I mentioned earlier, have always struck me more than the others. It is clear, however, that this list could easily lengthen.
Masks are an integral part of Italian culture. Centuries of Commedia dell’Arte made them famous not only in Italy but also abroad. Although some are more known than others (especially in some cities), they still continue to have their charm and appeal to the population, especially on the little ones!
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Credit photo: mamma.pourfemme.it