Masks have always been a central feature of the Carneval of Venice; traditionally people were allowed to wear them between the festival of Santo Stefano (December 26) and the start of the carnival season and midnight of Shrove Tuesday. As masks were also allowed at the Ascension and from October 5 to Christmas, people could spend a large proportion of the year in disguise. Maskmakers (Mascherari) enjoyed a special position in society, with their own laws and their own guild. Venetian masks can be made in leather or with the original glass technique. The original masks were rather simple in design and decoration and often had a symbolic and practical function. Nowadays, most of them are made with the application of gesso and gold leaf and are all hand-painted using natural feathers and gems to decorate.
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