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Masks and rituals

14.12.2001 - 14.03.2002

maskeCarnival is a rare, annual custom that has kept its special significance until today. There are traces of old carnivals in many villages, with lots of magical elements, and the custom is still vital in some places. Urban places, especially Mediterranean ones, have long ago developed various different, but interesting forms of city carnival. Carnival characters from Dolomiti, from the northern Italian region of Venice, show us that carnival was a very important ritual from the early days. Carnival reflects the effort of the people from the high mountains to influence fertility and renew of nature in the time of winter and before starting a new life cycle, using different rituals and magical works. Different kinds of masks were included in carnival processions, representing “ugly” and “nice”. These masks symbolized the interweaving of good and evil in real life. The nice ones, with matazin as their leader, are dressed in picturesque clothing with lots of accessories and are running around, jumping, ringing with their bells. Opposite to them, ugly ones with their dark and shabby clothes, represent the transience of life, the past, uselessness and sorrow. Participating in that kind of ritual, with its meaning of winning over nothingness and death in the time when the nature is apparently dead, showed the need of people in the past to influence their existence. There are similar characters, inventory and rituals in Istria and Kvarner. Some of the similar elements are jumping, ritual communication with young women, paper ribbons and flowers, bells and throwing of ashes. Because of that, one of the goals of this exhibition was to show the relationship of rustic carnival in the wide Mediterranean and Alpine cultural area. The exhibition was organized thanks to Associazione Culturale Internazionale SORAIMAR from Asola and its manager Gianluigi Secc (the author of this exhibition), support of Veneto region, the county of Istria , county of Belluno, and the help of the Italian Union.