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Mardi Gras Masquerades

Of all of the Carnival celebrations taking place this Fat Tuesday, from Rio to New Orleans, Venice is most renowned for its elaborate masks. 

But are those ubiquitous papier-mache or porcelain souvenirs really Venetian?  Not usually -- in fact, many still bear "Made in China" labels -- nor is most of the glass ostensibly from Murano or the lace from Burano genuine.  On my last trip to Venice, I spoke with a shop owner who had the following sign in his window:

Dear customer:  In this store you will find only original Murano glass, not horrendous copies made in China and other countries.  Therefore, if you're just looking for cheap souvenirs, this is not your shop.  Thank you. 

Marcello Ravanello, of Nason & Moretti, needed little prompting to express his disgust with the foreign imports masquerading as local products.  To further emphasize his civic and artistic pride, he even provided me with a (very short) list of art glass competitors who also sell the real thing. 

Of course, false appearances are the nature of a masquerade -- as apparent from 17 seconds of footage from last year's celebration in New Orleans, available here.  Truly a tradition worthy of Bakhtin

Happy Mardi Gras!