In this article, I present to you the masks of one of the oldest and most traditional carnivals in Italy, the Schignano Carnival, famous for its hand-made wooden masks.
Schignano is a small village in the Pre-Alps of Lombardy, in the province of Como. A delicious place to stay in the summer, and in the month of February to enjoy the beautiful spectacle of the Carnival parade. In this article, I present the traditional masks of this carnival, who also paraded in my town, Como.
The carnival is not just for jokes, toys, confetti, and shooting stars. This traditional feast often combines folklore and local history, like for the famous wooden masks handmade and stored by care by the inhabitants of Schignano.
At the head of parade, you can see two people dressed in sheepskins, with their faces painted in black, and with mustaches and a long white beard. They are called “Sapor.” In the midst of them, there is a man dressed with a military hat, called “Sigurtà”. These personages represent the “police forces” of the carnival parade!
The traditional masks, which date back to the Middle Ages, are an allegory of the attractive and the ugly men. The masks are divided into “beautiful” and “ugly”. The first group is a metaphors of the rich and vain humanity, while the second one represents the poor, simple, and daily devoted to work people.
The “beautiful” have a swollen belly, a clear sign of well-being. They wear flashy clothes, adorned with necklaces, and all kinds of useless trinkets. Above the beautiful and precious wooden mask (made by local craftsmen), they wear a gorgeous hat. These attractive men are called “Mascarun” in the local dialect.
The “ugly” have a deformed body (the padding is made of straw and leaves) and wearing used work clothes, made with sheepskins and jute bags. They wear a large bells hanging from the waist and bring a basket filled with all kinds of old and dirty things. Their wooden masks are deformed, with an irregular profile, and are made of raw wood (unsanded). They are called “Brut” in the local dialect.
The parade is made on Tuesday and Saturday of Carnival, and after the carnival the masks are jealously preserved by the locals. For more informations, see here