Seven Days of Winter Solstice Giveaways-Day 3

As seen in True Colors, the Elder Races have their own winter holiday celebration called the Masque, which culminates in the Festival of the Masque on the winter solstice. For the next week, join us in celebrating the Masque with seven days of winter solstice giveaways. Every day you’ll have a chance to enter to win a gift pack that includes one copy of Lord’s Fall, a bookmark, dragon soap made by Thea Harrison, a coupon for 30% off the Elder Race novellas (including True Colors), and a holiday card from Thea. To enter, just comment on the daily posts and then enter your information via the Rafflecopter form (embedded in the post or click on the link). You can gain extra entries by signing up for Thea’s newsletter and tweeting about the giveaway.

Once again, thank you all for your interest in Thea’s novels and happy holidays!

Traditional Venetian Masks

A Thursday paper was folded on a Barbie doll-sized dinette table, alongside an open box of holiday decorations with an elegant feathered and sequined half-mask perched on top.

-from True Colors by Thea Harrison

You can’t have a carnival without masks and today, just as in the heyday of the Venetian Carnevale in the eighteenth century, creating masks is the most profitable business in Venice. Yet the half-masks with glitter and feathers, or masks that imitate animal forms, are not the traditional Venetian masks that were worn during the original Carnevale. These were relatively plain masks whose forms frequently referenced death or mockery.

The first types of masks that appeared during Carnevale were called medico della peste, masks with long noses that were usually white. These were used all over Europe to protect people from the plague, and typically denoted plague doctors. The noses would be stuffed with herbs that were supposed to filter out the miasmas believed to cause the plague. Perhaps because of Carnevale’s associations with death, or perhaps because the plague struck Venice during a Carnevale, this became a popular mask for revelers. The bauta is a variation on the medico della peste which became the recognizable mask of Venice. It has a square shape, long nose, and no mouth. It’s usually paired with a cape and tricorn and is very effective at hiding the identity of its wearer.

Both men and women wore bautas, but if you were a woman looking for a little–ahem–adventure, you’d wear the moretta, a black oval mask with no mouth. Unlike the bauta, the moretta masks makes it very difficult for the wearer to speak, and impossible to eat or drink. This wasn’t a mask you’d wear for long stretches of time or for going casually about the city; it was for quick assignations at the casino or a ball.

Traditional Venetian masks, then and now, are made by painstakingly layering strips of paper into a mould with glue (called papier-mâché, although this isn’t the papier-mâché you’re probably familiar with from childhood craft projects). Some masks were also moulded out of leather, although these were less common. Mask makers following the tradition craft of Venetian masks still thrive in Venice and show off their artistry in exhibitions and festivals around the world.

Tomorrow we’ll discuss the characters of the commedia dell’arte, but today let us know which of the traditional Venetian masks you’d wear–the bauta, the medico de peste, or the moretta?

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45 Responses

  1. Linda Thum says:

    The bauta i think. The other 2 look quite uncomfortable. I definitely don’t fancy a beak for a nose.

  2. Sabrina says:

    Bauta….I like my food and drink too much to go without!

  3. myrandaroyann says:

    I think I’d go for the bauta as well! I’d want to be able to eat and drink! 🙂

  4. JenM says:

    None of those masks sounds like much fun to wear, but I guess I’d go with the bauta, mainly because the long nose one is even more freaky and the black one would be too depressing.

  5. Liz Calafiore says:

    The bauta if I absolutely had to. Masks, ugh!

  6. Holly says:

    The bauta, definitely. The moretta has me curious about birth rates after Carnavale.

  7. Pam P says:

    I”d choose the bauta, so I could eat and drink, and not have those herbs stuffed in there.

  8. Traci says:

    I don’t like the long nose of the medico, and since neither the bauta nor the moretta have a mouth I’d probably go with the moretta. I’d rather be oval than square. *shrugs*

  9. Chris says:

    I find the beaked masques very interesting. You could even use it to poke people that are annoying you! 🙂

  10. Mary Jo says:

    definitely the bauta!

  11. Yami says:

    I think I’d like the Moretta, with a yingyang shape.. The Medico though are interesting. The type of mask I’ve seen in my dreams is a yinyang, though it has a elongated mouth.

  12. Viki S. says:

    I wouldn’t want to wear any of them but the buata would be the default for me.

  13. Julie says:

    I think I prefer the bauta–the moretta sounds way too restricting.

  14. Irene Jackson says:

    Definately the bauta !

  15. Marianne says:

    The Moretta

  16. Elizabeth H. says:

    The bauta!

  17. Sheryl Nyary says:

    I am not a huge fan of masks, but I guess I would choose the bauta.

  18. Lisa Uranker says:

    I would say the Bauta. Gotta love a little mystery.

  19. Kellie F says:

    I think I would choose the bauta…rather make my own though with those choices.

  20. I’d be one of the adventurous women and wear the moretta mask with no mouth.

  21. Kristina Parmenter says:

    medico de peste..I like the long noses 🙂

  22. I’d go for the full white. I like the designs! (And I was told there would be no math!)

  23. Jackie Nicholson-Woodland says:

    I would say the Bauta..:)

  24. mandy says:

    The moretta most likely would suit me…

  25. Chelsea B. says:

    I would say the bauta. The last one looks rather scary!

  26. Joanne B says:

    They all look uncomfortable so I’d choose the Bauta.

  27. Renate says:

    I’d go for the bauta, I think

  28. Sumiyati E Monoarfa says:

    The bauta…I want to eat and drink. I would also want to whisper and seem mysterious.~

  29. bn100 says:


  30. Aly P says:

    I think the bauta, the other 2 seem very stiffing…

  31. Sabine W. says:

    I would choose the bauta. The other 2 look quite uncomfortable and I need to be able to drink and stuff like that.

  32. margaret p says:

    The bauta

  33. Elizabeth Z says:

    The medico de peste, and I’d fill the beak with lovely scented herbs and lavender to drown out the inevitable crowd smell. Yup, call me practical!

  34. Samantha R says:

    I think that I’d wear the medico de peste – one can never be too careful…


  35. Diane says:

    None of them seem very comfortable but like so many I enjoy food so that would narrow it to the bauta

  36. Timitra says:

    I’m gonna go with the bauta!

  37. Joni Stevens says:

    I would wear the Bauta mask. I would like to be able to eat , drink and speak and Breathe! The Moretta is to restrictive and The plague Dr mask is to weird looking.

  38. donnas says:

    Have to say the Bauta.

  39. Jennifer T says:

    I have to say the bauta also. I like to eat!

  40. Julie D L says:

    Bauta for me, of those 3.

  41. Hannah says:

    I’m torn between the bauta and the moretta. The black oval sounds like fun, but not all that attractive. The bauta sounds more practical (and looks quite nice in that picture) -but I don’t particularly want to be a square!

    I have to say, I feel like modern Venitian masks are a great improvement on them all!

  42. hilly says:

    Oh, boo! I can’t wear any mask over my eyeglasses, so I select: none of the above. Unless it’s on a stick that I can hold and put up to cover my face.

    Well, what do you suppose? I thought I’d be stumped for something to say about the masks for Day 3, but as I looked at the very helpful pictures, I remembered my favorite version of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” with Robert Lindsay and Cherie Lunghi. So THAT’s what they were doing there! (Oh, look: I found it online … from 8:10 of this part and into the next part.)

  43. TiDubb says:

    Definitely the bauta.

  44. Michelle K says:

    a bauta- I would want to be able to eat and drink!