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RenaissanceCarnival Masks


Carnival comes from "carnevale" meaning "farewell to flesh," referring to the custom of abstaining from meat during lent.It gave people an opportunity to have a communal costume celebration with nearly wild abandon before the solemn time of fasting and prayer arrived. The observance began in Italy and slowly spread throughout the world, complete with extravagant costumes and masksRenaissance CarnivalsRenaissance carnival masks embraced every part of human and animal nature. Fanciful hobby horses, bears, monsters and men who are part human and part wild appeared on the streets. Some believe the fearful nature of many of these masks drove away or fooled malicious spirits. The mask also represents the more bestial nature in humankind.Animal Masks

As in modern times, the Renaissance carnival attracted all manner of entertainers, including mimes, jesters and harlequins. Not every person in such a mask was a true performer, however. Some simply chose this guise as a fun way of staying anonymous during the festivities.Jester Masks

Men of the Renaissance favored ghosts masks, in part because of their simplicity and impact at night under the moon. This blanching white mask contours somewhat to the face. Large black overcoats and neck coverings were worn with ghost masks so all people would see come dark is a floating face.Ghost Masks

Resembles Grim Reaper

Another grim mask reflective of the era was the plague doctor. Those who wore this mask were mimicking the physicians who wore beaked masks. People believed the mask protected them from plague contamination.Plague Doctor Mask

Men and women both donned devilish masks during carnival. In part this reflected the religious nature of the Renaissance with a little Dante mixed in for good measure. Additionally the devil mask implied the total abandon to extravagant behaviours during the festival.Devil Masks




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