Venetian jester mask of joker (male) and jolly (female) depict, during the Venice Carnival, the role of the Jester in the Italian Middle Ages.
As a character of the Italian court, jesters (joker or jolly) wore brightly colored clothing in a motley pattern and they were known for their characteristic laughter.
PHOTO: White and gold jester mask in Venice.
For the Venice Carnival festivities and parties, these masks make a statement of boldness, and as a piece of art, they are great souvenirs, as examples of ancient Italian art.
If you purchase a jester mask from one of the reputable maskmaker operations in Venice, each one individually hand crafted by artisans in Venice, often with different types of jester themes available, each individually made, so that no two are identical.
As for naming of the individual jester masks, these indicate the themes of the masks, such as “Reale” (indicating the points of the mask encircling the face), or “bavero”, indicating a beard below the mask.
“Musica” meanwhile indicates a jester mask with a music score in the mask points. The baroque jester masks often have an “old world” look, with intricate overlaid patterns on the face, with aged effect on the undecorated face of the mask.
Generally, masks are used both by the Venetians and by the thousands of visitors who came to Venice to experience the carnival, with the best quality masks available from authentic Venetian maschereri.
“Maschereri” artisans are artists who make these masks, traditionally enrolled in a guild of painters, who create masks according to client specifications.
The most popular of the disguises during the carnivale is the “Bauta”, worn by both men and women: a black cape always coupled to a three-cornered hat and a white mask, with a raised bottom section, allowing the wearer to eat and drink.
Jester is often associated with the character of Harlequin, which has its origins as in the mask tradition from Bergamo.
Whatever mask you personally choose, you are bound to see jester masks during the last days of the Carnival, when the city is full of people in masks, invading the Venetian streets and squares and trying to get noticed.
Jester masks are also popular in the Carnival parade, with often inventive and creative clothing coupled with the traditional masks.