The Plague Doctor mask dates back to the 1500s and is a very traditional Venetian masquerade mask.
It was used by doctors to filter the germ laden air during periods of plague, which were very common in past times. It was a pre-cursor to the gas mask.
The doctor usually held a stick in his hand, so as not to come into direct contact with the afflicted and wore impermeable clothing, made from waxed canvas, which also sealed the edges of the mask around the face. The mask itself had glass over the eye holes. Air could only pass through two slits cut in the 'beak' and was filtered by aromatic herbs pressed inside.
For these doctors however, the disease was not caused by air borne microbes (which were not discovered at this time), but by spirits. They wanted to keep the spirits at bay by frightening them, which explains the terrifying appearance of the costume.
This Venetian masquerade mask has been beautifully made. with a beautiful gold relief design around the edges of the mask. The entire mask has the 'craquele' effect and a painted image of the mask doctor on the top on a grey background.
The glasses are shown around the eyes and the beak is in in a cream colour, looking very ancient with the following inscription:
."The doctors and surgeons besides the dress, used to put on their faces a mask, dipped in wax, which used to cover the whole face and the head covering their hair so that they wouldn't get infected by the dangerous insects and they used to protect their eyes, with spectacles and the nose, with a hooked nib filled with medical and aromatic herbs which helped them hold the breath within for a long time..."
To see the detail of the lovely Venetian masquerade mask, scroll through the 8 images above to see the different angles and details, including the interior surface.
Add this amazingly beautiful Venetian masquerade mask to your shopping cart now. It will look amazing on display and be a fantastic link with Venice will be a great talking point for all visitors!