Even though china imported plastic masks made seem to oust the venetian originals from the numerous souvenir shops in Venice: The traditional hand-made venetian masks are still in high demand. This is due to the fact that most often there is a huge difference in terms of quality and authenticity between the chinese copies and the small pieces of art made by venetian craftsman. In the past as well as today, these masks are sought-after not only in Venice, but all around the world. Venetian masks are usually worn for a range of occasions, with carnival probably the best known.
The tradition of mask making in Venice has a long history. Evidence of this handcraft can be traced to the 13th century and over the centuries, mask making evolved into one of the prosperous trades of Venice. Each of the many different styles of masks has its own, distinct background that originates in venetian history and traditions (see here for more info). The masks as such are produced from a different materials. Beside masks made from leather, masks made out of papier mâché are the most common. These papier mâché masks are often decorated with stucco. Alongside rather simple models with little or no decoration such as the Bauta mask there are also masks richly decorated with feathers, gemstones or gold foil. The video attached below gives a good first impression into this unique and charming universe.