Face Masks During the Plague— Plus Window Shopping: Venice… Armchair Travel

Another post from my armchair travel series during Covid-19. This time I’ll take you on a window shopping tour of Venice with an emphasis on glassware, including face masks that come with a long nose…

Venice is known for the creative glass masks made there. What is particularly interesting about this one is that it is a replica of what plague doctors wore in the 1600s. At the time, doctors believed that the plague was spread by the bad smell generated by the disease. The nose of the mask was packed with herbs or flowers such as lavender that would counter the smell, and, so the doctors believed, counter the disease. If nothing else, possibly they would scare the plague away!

I promised a window-shopping trip in Venice so window-shopping we will go. Staring in store windows is fun. Like people watching, it falls under the category of vicarious pleasure. And it’s free. Of course the shop owners have other objectives in mind.

Window shopping in Venice is one treat after another. Noted for its masks and glass work, I thought this owl caught both.
Window shopping in Venice is one treat after another. Numerous windows display masks or glass work, I thought this owl caught both.

Venice does a fabulous job with window displays. We saw mouth-watering pastries, chocolate fantasies, clunky shoes, a bejeweled rear end, and an interesting ceramic cow.

I am sure these clunky shoes are stylish but I confess to not getting it.
I am sure these clunky shoes are stylish even though I don’t get it. I do get that I would hesitate to get in an argument with the woman wearing them.
This 440 euro sculpture of a butt challenged my imagination like the shoes above. I did find the glass beadwork fun, however.
As ads go, this ceramic cow in Venice was quite creative. Got paint?
As ads go, this ceramic cow in a Venice shop was quite creative. Got paint?
A Venetian chocolatier created a ski scene from his product in his window.  I almost lost Peggy...
A Venetian chocolatier created a ski scene in his window. I almost lost Peggy. “Chocolate!” she exclaimed. Of course we had to go in. And left a few hundred calories later.

What impressed me the most about the window displays in Venice were those featuring glassware and masks. Both reach back into the city’s ancient history.

How many places can claim they have been “supplying quality glass products since 1291”? That’s the year that a Venice made of wood required all of its glass makers to move to the island of Murano in the Venice Lagoon. Community leaders feared that the glass making process would burn the city down. Venice quickly became the center of Europe’s trade in beautiful glass objects.

The upside for the glass makers was that they were invited into the highest ranks of Venetian society. The downside was they were threatened with having their hands chopped off or assassination if they moved and took their talents elsewhere.

I suspect the artist who created this sculpture of glass blowers had devilish fun with his work.
I suspect the artist who created this sculpture of glass blowers had devilish fun with his work.
I liked this Venice window display because it captured different types of glass work including the elephant.
I liked this Venice window display because it captured different types of glass work including the elephant and shows off various techniques of coloring glass.

Venetians apparently carried out numerous activities they felt were best done while wearing masks. For example, in 1339 Venice passed a law that forbade inhabitants from visiting convents while wearing masks. One can only wonder. During plague times doctors wore long nose masks they believed protected them from the disease. Today masks are a central part of the Carnival of Venice that ends on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras).

The Venetian masks displayed in shops can be quite beautiful and elaborate.
The Venetian masks displayed in shops can be quite beautiful and elaborate. A “plague” mask is on the left.
The masks of Venice can also be a bit on the scary side such as this mask of Medusa. Note the masks covering the eyes on the snake heads. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The masks of Venice can also be a bit on the scary side such as this mask of Medusa. Note the masks on the snake heads. See no evil, hear no evil, smell no evil, speak no evil? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
This mask making shop had their creations lined up assembly line style. Their eerie see through character made me think of them as ghost masks.
This mask making shop had their creations lined up assembly line style. The eerie see-through look of the masks made me think of ghosts.
I’ll conclude with modern mask featuring a steam punk theme. It made me think of Burning Man.

NEXT POST: Continuing on our armchair journey during Covid-19, it’s off to Pompeii to visit with the gods.

Window-shopping in Venice… The Sea Ports of the Mediterranean

Window shopping in Venice is one treat after another. Noted for its masks and glass work, I thought this owl caught both.

Window shopping in Venice is one treat after another. Numerous windows display masks or glass work, I thought this owl caught both.

I promised a window-shopping trip in Venice so window-shopping we will go. Staring in store windows is fun. In addition to people watching, it falls under the category of vicarious pleasure. And it’s free. Of course the shop owners have other objectives in mind.

Venice does a fabulous job with window displays. We saw mouth-watering pastries, chocolate fantasies, clunky shoes, a bejeweled rear end, and an interesting ceramic cow.

I am sure these clunky shoes are stylish but I confess to not getting it.

I am sure these clunky shoes are stylish even though I don’t get it. I do get that I would hesitate to get in an argument with the woman wearing them.

This sculpture challenged my imagination like the shoes above. I don't think a bejeweled butt would compliment Peggy and my native art collection.

This 440 euro butt sculpture challenged my imagination like the shoes above. I did find the glass beadwork fun, however.

As ads go, this ceramic cow in Venice was quite creative. Got paint?

As ads go, this ceramic cow in Venice was quite creative. Got paint?

A Venetian chocolatier created a ski scene from his product in his window.  I almost lost Peggy...

A Venetian chocolatier created a ski scene from his product in his window. I almost lost Peggy…

What impressed me the most about the window displays in Venice were those featuring glassware and masks. Both reach back into the city’s ancient history.

How many places can claim they have been “supplying quality glass products since 1291”? That’s the year that a Venice made of wood required all of its glass makers to move to the island of Murano in the Venice Lagoon. Community leaders feared that the glass making process would burn the city down. Venice quickly became the center of Europe’s trade in beautiful glass objects.

The upside for the glass makers was that they were invited into the highest ranks of Venetian society. The downside was they were threatened with having their hands chopped off or assassination if they moved and took their talents elsewhere.

I suspect the artist who created this sculpture of glass blowers had devilish fun with his work.

I suspect the artist who created this sculpture of glass blowers had devilish fun with his work.

I liked this Venice window display because it captured different types of glass work including the elephant.

I liked this Venice window display because it captured different types of glass work including the elephant and shows off various techniques of coloring glass.

Venetians apparently carried out numerous activities they felt were best done while wearing masks. For example, in 1339 Venice passed a law that forbid inhabitants from visiting nun convents while wearing masks. One can only wonder… During plague times doctors wore long nose masks they believed protected them from the disease. Not. Today masks are a central part of the Carnival of Venice that ends on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras).

The Venetian masks displayed in shops can be quite beautiful and elaborate.

The Venetian masks displayed in shops can be quite beautiful and elaborate.

The masks of Venice can also be a bit on the scary side such as this mask of Medusa. Note the masks covering the eyes on the snake heads. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

The masks of Venice can also be a bit on the scary side such as this mask of Medusa. Note the masks on the snake heads. See no evil, hear no evil, smell no evil, speak no evil? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

This mask making shop had their creations lined up assembly line style. Their eerie see through character made me think of them as ghost masks.

This mask making shop had their creations lined up assembly line style. Their eerie see through character of the pre painted masks made me think of them as ghosts.

Type of masks warn by Venetian doctors during the plague.

This type of mask was worn by doctors when Venice was suffering through the plague. I am not sure whether the doctors thought they were hiding from the plague or scaring it away.

I like this window display of Venetian masks because of its variety.

I like this window display of Venetian masks because of its variety.

The fingers grasping this Venetian plague mask caught my attention.

The fingers grasping this Venetian plague mask caught my attention.

The faun-like character of this mask is obvious. Once again, it displays the incredible detail of many of the Venetian masks.

The faun-like character of this mask is obvious. Once again, it displays the incredible detail of many of the Venetian masks.

I will conclude with this modern mask of part man and part machine... a scary prediction of the future?

I will conclude with this modern mask of part man and part machine… a scary prediction of the future or steampunk?

NEXT BLOG: I will take a one blog break from Europe to explore how steampunk is impacting Burning Man. (The masks reminded me of the event.) After I revisit the annual event that takes place in the northern Nevada desert, I will begin my series on Pompei.