Venetian masks are a centuries-old tradition of Venice, Italy. The masks are typically worn during the Carnival (Carnival of Venice), but have been used on many other occasions in the past, usually as a device for hiding the wearer's identity and social status.
The costume is also associated with a commedia dell'arte character called Il Medico della Peste (the Plague Doctor), who wears a distinctive plague doctor's mask. The Venetian mask was normally white, consisting of a hollow beak and round eye-holes covered with clear glass, and is one of the distinctive masks worn during the Carnival of Venice.
The moretta mask, reserved exclusively for women, was a Venetian mask that was round and covered with black velvet. Also known as the 'muta', it perfectly concealed the features of the wearer's face and was very common in Venice in the 18th century.
Pantalone is one of the most famous characters of the Commedia dell'arte. He represents the typical Venetian Merchant of the XVI° century. The name seems to derive from the action of "planting the Lion's flag" into a grove when Venetian militaries won a battle: pianta–Leone panta–Leone.
Volto (Larva) The larva, also called the volto mask, is mainly white, and typically Venetian. It is worn with a tricorn and cloak. It is thought the word "larva" comes from the Latin meaning "mask" or "ghost". Like the bauta, the shape of the mask allowed the wearer to breathe, drink, and speak easily without having to remove the mask. These masks were made of fine wax cloth and so were light and comfortable to wear, making them ideal for a night of socializing and dancing.
The name Zanni (as well as Zuan) is a variant of the name Gianni and was common in the Lombard-Venetian countryside which provided most of the servants to the wealthy nobles and merchants of Venice. In Italian it is specifically a name of someone whose identity is not of any importance.