Venetian Mask Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

Venetian Mask Tattoos: Symbolism, Meanings & More

The masks of Venice have been captivating the world for over 900 years now – and for good reason. The history behind them, along with their elegant beauty, and wide range of symbolism that they are capable of makes them truly memorable and unique.

In today’s article, we’ll tell you a little more about them, by diving into the history, symbolism, and more. When you are done reading, we think that you will agree – Venetian Mask tattoos have truly amazing skin-art potential!


What is the History of Venetian Mask Tattoos?

Most often associated with the Venetian Carnival, believed to have begun in the year 1168, Venetian Masks actually came in two varieties – basically ‘carnival masks’ and ‘theatre masks’ – both of which have been a popular inspiration for tattoos since their inception.

The Commedia dell’ Arte masks of Italian improvisational theatre wouldn’t become part of Venetian mask history until the 15th century, but are still considered ‘Venetian Masks’ in popular art on the subject today. With the carnival masks, however, the original intent was more than simply hiding one’s face.

With these masks, peasants and nobles could intermingle freely, as status was essentially done away with during the time of the Carnival, and this was especially important for women, who didn’t have a lot of freedoms under Venetian law in those times. They were even designed with utility in mind!

Even if you were wearing a full Venetian mask, you could still eat and drink, often by a clever design addition such as a comical false chin that was hollowed-out beneath. The beauty of these leather and sometimes gem-embellished papier Mache masks so captivated the world, that they are popular to this very day.


What Do Venetian Mask Tattoos Symbolize?

Venetian Mask tattoos symbolize playfulness and the freedom to let go and simply be yourself. After all, who can say for sure who the person really is behind it? With it’s theatrical and carnival associations, the Venetian Mask is pretty much a worldwide symbol for souls who just have to be themselves one way or the other!

While the masks can look almost sinister, more often they have a debaucherous or simply jolly sort of bent, though variations of the classic Greek ‘Comedy and Tragedy’ masks certainly do make their appearance in this lovely Venetian face wear.

This means that you can incorporate the inherent symbolism and style of Venice masks while also adding to the symbolism by the choice that their stylistic caricature so aptly portrays.


What Do Venetian Mask Tattoos Mean?

Venetian Mask Tattoos mean that the true nature of their wearer is hidden and definitely a bit on the wild side – in most cases. Remember, you have a wide range of the face which the mask will portray, and with Venetian masks the covering of the face actually works in reverse.

Compare it to Halloween to get a better idea. On Halloween, we try to make ourselves look like other people or even monsters, fun and for thrills, but with a Venetian mask you could be obscuring who you are, but also the face on the mask could actually be an indication of who you are inside!

As such, these tattoos can mean a longing for getting to be yourself when no one else can catch you doing it, or they could be an expression of your inner joys, sadness, or intents. It’s an amazingly pliant symbol and as the style of this art is well-established, it can make for some truly amazing skin art.


Where Do Venetian Mask Tattoos Usually Go?

Venetian Mask Tattoos are often depicted in hidden places on the body and more often than not, they will be very small tattoos. This is because of the message behind them. For instance, a Venetian Mask tattooed on the ankle gets the point across but keeps things subtle – much like a mask worn only once a year.

They are also sometimes displayed on the hip or even on the upper shoulder where they might be easily concealed or advertised at the owner’s whim.

The message is clear, by both the popular placements and the modest size of the masks – you can see me, but you don’t know what’s hiding inside and waiting to get out!


Characteristics and Styles of Venetian Mask Tattoos

As Venetian masks are a well-developed style of art, they are usually depicted in ‘photorealistic’ or minimalist styles. Sometimes done in color, black and white Venetian Mask Tattoos are quite commonly seen, as the masks themselves are often black or checked black and white.

That said, you could certainly experiment with other styles… Geometrical, for instance, could express that one’s personal mask is quite intricate and ordered indeed, while a New School tattoo of a Venetian mask could be used to add exaggerated features to add a little more depth in expressing the owner’s personality.

Minimalism is an excellent tattoo style for these masks. A tiny Venetian mask is not only mysterious, but the message is quite a bit larger than the space that it is taking. If a group of friends or co-conspirators each wear a small Venetian Mask tattoo, then it even expresses a secret unity that is clearly stated, but hidden.

It’s all about what you’re trying to tell the world about you, because when you get down to it, the Venetian mask is either hiding what you are to give you desired freedoms or a warning to the world about who they are really dealing with!


Some closing words on Venetian Mask Tattoos

The history of the Venetian mask as a tattoo likely goes very far back. While 46% of Americans have at least one tattoo, Italy beats us out at 48%, making it the most tattooed country in the world.

As such, you can pretty much guarantee that Venetian Mask Tattoos have been around for awhile, maybe as far back as the 1100s when the masks first gained their popularity. History or no, when it comes to skin art, Venetian masks have renown, beauty, and worldwide recognition – definitely something to think about!

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