“ The Moretta mask is one of the most traditional designs of Venetian female masks. Originating in France it was quickly taken up by the fashion conscious Venetian women. It is a dark colored mask (hence the name, moretta meaning “a little black one”) depicting intrigue. The Moretta mask was oval in shape with no mouth opening, just eye holes. Traditionally the mask was worn with a veil so giving total anonymity to its wearer. Originally it was made of black velvet the features are expressionless. The mask was held in place by biting on a special button sewn on the inside of the mask using front teeth so rendering the wearer mute. This is why the Moretta mask is also called the Servetta Muta meaning mute maid servant.
The lack of verbal communication this mask imposed meant that Venetian women had to use their body language a lot. It encouraged coquettish behavior; the tilt of the head, the fluttering of eye lashes, the touch of a hand all became an intricate part of flirtation. Its expressionless face meant that the female wearer had to use her body much as a mime artist would today. When worn, the Moretta mask accentuated all the attributes that Venetians considered to be the height of desirability and femininity. In an era where women’s views were seen as unimportant and where the women were judged on their physical attributes alone the mask accentuated the soft feminine lines of the female face but made its wearer unable to speak, eat and/or drink. It really speaks volumes about the treatment of women in the Venetian society.
The Moretta mask was worn to gambling houses, for affairs and when visiting convents where vows of silence were observed. Its popularity was short lived as by 1760 it had disappeared.. Thankfully todays Moretta masks are designed with ribbon ties to secure it. They can be crafted from leather, cloth or paper mache. Most are still blank in either black or white as tradition dictates. The leather Moretta masks are probably the most comfortable, allowing the skin to breath and molding to the shape of the wearers face.”