The Bauta is certainly an original mask, characteristic of Venice: a mask that disguises, hides and reproduces itself.
It can be tracked back to the eighteenth century Venice, where it finds its highest expression. A typical Venetian mask, which does not seem to be documented even outside the reality of Venice, its streets, ‚Äėcampi‚Äô and squares. A mask that by magic could bring us back to the gondola, for the same black color but also because, as with the gondola, its origins are unknown. This lack of origins make it impossible to contact the Bauta to a particular character or an original model, something the mask should somehow indicate, and so making it impossible to attribute to an author.
The Bauta is not just a mask but a costume: mysterious, ambiguous, anonymous. With the sharp profile, completely white and shiny, with its cocked hat, hood and black coat. The white face, originally has a long nose but on the contrary should have a short nose and a wide and protruding lower lip.
A mysterious black silhouette with a white mask, a mask that hides the face and that is called, on the whole of the mask, precisely for ‘face’. That face which, in turn, will become ‘Bauta’ to specify the full disguise, made so by:
– A cloak, a black veil
– A three-cornered hat, also black
– A face, white
The Bauta reproduces itself; a mask designed to maintain the unknown, to hide identity. Masks traditions, Carnival or the Commedia dell’Arte, reproduce the old, the young, the fool, etc. while the Bauta reproduces a concealed identity and an empty identity.
The cloak and Bauta were a must among the aristocracy, at official ceremonies and on public holidays, although its use lost its distinctive aristocratic characteristic, so that the type of garment was redefined (toga).
The Bauta was used, despite the bans and prohibitions of the Venetian government, especially in places where to be unknown was crucial. That is in places where sex and gambling were frequent, and where men and women lingered in disguise. We find it among the coffee shops and casinos, rooms used for illegal gambling, at times marked by a hat hung on the door.
An ambiguous mask, between past and present, between land and water. A mask described in luxury and pleasure, a mask of the libertine but also a mask, faceless and sexless in itself. The Bauta, apparently an aristocratic mask, is said to make noble even those who are not of royal blood.
According to Prince Frederick Hohenlohe Waldembourg, the Bauta has always been the first of the masks, fantastic in black and white: “The overwhelming power of suggestion of the ‘Bauta’ on the public and the self-suggestion for the wearer cannot really be understood by any person except he who wears it. “(Hohenlohe, 1911).