Wide view of Venice: Piazza San Marco - Riva degli Schiavoni

The COVIELO mask

Coviello is a secondary character of the Commedia dell'Arte, sort of a jolly: he can play dumb or be incredibly smart. Not so unlike others, like the Zanni, or Pulcinella himself.

The Coviello mask comes from Naples, he sings lurid songs, has a long nose mask, always carries a sword, uses heavy glasses, has feathers sticking out of his head, and plays the mandolin. In this etching he's playing the colascione.

“Maschere da Covielo
che va cantando Siciliane”

“Coviello masks
who are singing Sicilian songs”


The colascione (or calascione) is a sort of a lute with a very long neck, used in Italy in the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods.

It is a plucked string instrument which was mainly used in southern Italy, and has two (or three) strings - tuned in fifth interval - the string length being 100–130 centimeters.

There was also a smaller version of this instrument, called the colascioncino, with string length of 50–60 centimeters.

Etching by Francesco Bertelli: "Maschera da Covielo" - 1642
Francesco Bertelli: "Maschera da Covielo" (Covielo mask)
Il Carnevale Italiano Mascherato - etching (1642)

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