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Venetian Face Mask G
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Medico della Peste (The Plague Doctor) mask with its long beak, is one of the most bizarre and recognisable of the Venetian masks, though it did not start out as carnival mask at all but as a method of preventing the spread of disease. The striking design originates from 17th-century French physician Charles de Lorme who adopted the mask together with other sanitary precautions while treating plague victims.The mask is often white, consisting of a hollow beak and round eyeholes covered with crystal discs, creating a bespectacled effect. It's use as a carnival mask is entirely a modern convention, and today these masks are often much more decorative.
The plague doctors who followed De Lorme's example wore the usual black hat and long black cloak as well as the mask, white gloves and a stick (so as to be able to move patients without having to come into physical contact with them). They hoped these precautions would prevent them contracting the disease. Those who wear the plague doctor mask often also wear the associated clothing of the plague doctor. The popularity of the Medico della Peste among Carnival celebrants can be seen as a memento mori.
January 21st, 2012
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