There have been different reasons for wearing face-covering devices over the centuries, one of the main reasons being for disguise. An exception to this was during the plague when a mask with a long beak containing herbs was worn by doctors for protection. Their use in theater goes back centuries and today a number of movies have been made where the villain or hero wears a mask. Venetian masquerade masks were worn widely in past centuries and they are still worn today.
In those early centuries in Venice society was very strictly divided into classes. The city was overcrowded and any privacy was a problem. It was under these conditions that mask wearing became extremely popular. It gave individuals an opportunity to go about their business with a degree of anonymity. Unfortunately, it also meant that there was more opportunity for crime and immoral behavior. This lead to the passing of laws which prevented mask wearing except for those three months when carnival was being held.
Carnival time gave people the chance to come out in a variety of face covering devices, from those which covered the whole face, like the Bauta, to those which only covered the eyes. The Bauta was one of the most commonly worn, with its full white face and square jawline. This was usually accompanied by a black cape. Some ladies preferred to cover only their eyes and they would hold the mask up to their face with an attached rod.
Mask makers in those days were much respected for their artistry. Workshops were found everywhere where face-covering devices were made from various different materials but mainly paper mache. They were hand painted and embellished with beads, gems and feathers.
Behind a device which conceals identity, an individual is free to act differently and the desire for this has not changed over the ages. That feeling of being able to act like someone else for a short while is still enticing to most people. Special occasions such as balls and festivals are still held worldwide today where a mask is required to be worn.
The mask makers of today are often just as committed to their craft. They make the most beautiful creations, using time tested skills. Other authentic products like Murano glass jewelry and Italian leather purses are also desired by a worldwide clientele. There are companies which sell all of these products to people throughout the world, enabling makers to benefit from more customers.
There is a worldwide demand for masks which may be used for special occasions, festivals and themed parties. Venice still celebrates carnival and people flock to attend, wearing their venetian masquerade masks. This tradition has lasted for so many centuries and it is likely to continue for many more.