Hidden treasures

The ‘Bauta’, the mystery mask

Historical Curiosities
bauta-longhi

The ‘Bauta’, the mystery mask

Among the many masks that dominated the Venetian scene the most common was the 'Bauta', a male equivalent of the Moretta but, unlike the latter, it could be used by both sexes.

The Bauta was worn all year because it made it possible to hide one’s identity whenever desired. It consisted of a black cloak, the so-called tabarro, a tricorn and the 'Larva'. 'Larva' is a term derived from Latin which means 'ghost': it was in fact a white mask that was particularly popular thanks to its simplicity and because it allowed people to move around the city in total anonymity. However, there was another aspect that made this mask particularly sought-after: since it covered only the eyes and the nose, opening like a sail at the level of the mouth, it was possible to eat and drink without having to remove it and the broad tabarro allowed lovers to make love on the streets whilst shadowed by the surrounding buildings.

La Bauta, together with the female 'Moretta', became particularly fashionable during the eighteenth century in Venice, not only during the Carnival period but at any time of the year. Men and women of different ranks and professions could move freely and discreetly, performing actions that they would never have done in broad daylight.

There are several paintings in Venice that testify to the wide use of these particular masks and that allow us to imagine the practices and traditions of the Venetians of the time. Among these is the artwork 'Il Ridotto' (1757-60) by Pietro Longhi, now kept at the Querini Stampalia Museum in Venice. Looking carefully at the painting, we notice two Baute in the foreground: a woman wearing a cloak and a tricorn pretends to repel the man's advances whose face is hidden by the 'larva'. Behind them, two ladies wearing the Moretta are busy admiring the scene with the aim of capturing the attention of the seductive Larva, thereby hoping to spend an evening of revels and fun cautiously hidden by the mask.

Thanks to the work by Pietro Longhi and other historical and artistic testimonies, today it is possible to reconstruct the public and social life of eighteenth-century Venice and relish the masterpieces of the Mascareri art, still active in Venice, the city hailed as the queen of Carnival!

Do not miss the chance to visit Venice during the Carnival, the most magical festival of the year! On our website you can choose the best Carnival events to fully enjoy the charm and fun of this incredible celebration!

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

Latest posts

Venice: 'Duri i banchi!': the meaning of a famous motto in Venice

duri-i-banchi
Figures of speech

The Venetians are a people of workers, proud and deeply attached to their city, and for these reasons, they never surrender to hardship...

View

Venice: Coronavirus is not (fortunately) Venice’s new plague

peste
Historical Curiosities

As recently as a month ago the Coronavirus or COVID-19 started to affect our lives causing much disruption. It appeared precisely in ou...

View

Venice: History of the Queen of Venice Carnival: Frittella!

Frittelle_di_carnevale
Local Traditions

It is Carnival time...and what could be better than biting into a soft and tasty Venetian frittella? Frittella, ‘fritoea or fritola...

View

Venice: The legend of Melusina and the stone heart of Sotoportego dei Preti

Melusina
Mysteries & Legends

February: the feast of lovers is approaching and you are thinking of relishing magical experiences together with your better half in Ve...

View

Top posts

Chioggia: The Valley of the Seven Dead Men

casone-millecampi-detto-casone-dei-sette-morti
Mysteries & Legends

Halloween is just around the corner: have you already got into the fascinating terrifying aura of the scariest party of the year? No ye...

View

Venice: The stone heart of St Mark’s Basilica

cuore-erizzo
Unknown places & works

If you are visiting St Mark’s Basilica and have just abandoned the wonderful vision of the Pala d'Oro (which is a must-see), just a f...

View

Venice: Map of Venice, what to know before you leave

mappa-venezia
Did you know that...

Did you know that Venice is not a single large island but rather a collection of 117 small islands linked together by over 400 bridges?...

View

Verona: The roman walls of Verona

porta-borsari
Historical Curiosities

Verona has always been considered a city of considerable importance from a military point of view: being at the mouth of the Adige Vall...

View