Photos | Made in Albania: carnival masks that travel the world

In northern Albania, artists delicately paint, gild and bejewel tens of thousands of Venetian masks that revellers around the world have been donning for carnival season. While most of the masks are destined for the Venice market -- whose carnival was suddenly cancelled this year amid a coronavirus outbreak -- others are shipped off to some 40 other countries, including France, the US, UK and Australia.The company also gets orders year-round from those attending masquerade balls, as well as filmmakers and theatre producers looking for costumes.

Updated On Feb 26, 2020 07:35 PM IST 7 Photos
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An artist works on a carnival mask at the Venice Art Mask workshop in Shkoder, Albania. In a quiet studio in northern Albania, artists delicately paint, gild and bejewel tens of thousands of Venetian masks that revellers around the world have been donning for carnival season. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

An artist works on a carnival mask at the Venice Art Mask workshop in Shkoder, Albania. In a quiet studio in northern Albania, artists delicately paint, gild and bejewel tens of thousands of Venetian masks that revellers around the world have been donning for carnival season. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

Updated on Feb 26, 2020 07:35 PM IST
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Some 50 staff hand-craft the one-of-a-kind pieces from their factory in lakeside Shkoder, which exports up to 30,000 masks around the globe every year. “At first every (mask) is a mystery, you have to be patient to do it, but you can’t wait to see the final product,” explained Nora Gjonaj, a 41-year-old artist who has been working in Albania’s Venice Art Mask Factory for two decades. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

Some 50 staff hand-craft the one-of-a-kind pieces from their factory in lakeside Shkoder, which exports up to 30,000 masks around the globe every year. “At first every (mask) is a mystery, you have to be patient to do it, but you can’t wait to see the final product,” explained Nora Gjonaj, a 41-year-old artist who has been working in Albania’s Venice Art Mask Factory for two decades. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

Updated on Feb 26, 2020 07:35 PM IST
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The artists start by building a clay mould which they fill with plaster to create the base of the mask. That piece is then smoothed over with paper mache. The masks range from relatively simple eye-coverings to towering, ornate head pieces, with costs running from 20 euros to 1,500 euros ($21 to $1,620) in the showroom next door. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

The artists start by building a clay mould which they fill with plaster to create the base of the mask. That piece is then smoothed over with paper mache. The masks range from relatively simple eye-coverings to towering, ornate head pieces, with costs running from 20 euros to 1,500 euros ($21 to $1,620) in the showroom next door. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

Updated on Feb 26, 2020 07:35 PM IST
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An artist works on a carnival mask at the Venice Art Mask workshop. While most of the masks are destined for the Venice market— whose carnival was suddenly cancelled this year amid a coronavirus outbreak—others are shipped off to some 40 other countries, including France, the US, UK and Australia. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

An artist works on a carnival mask at the Venice Art Mask workshop. While most of the masks are destined for the Venice market— whose carnival was suddenly cancelled this year amid a coronavirus outbreak—others are shipped off to some 40 other countries, including France, the US, UK and Australia. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

Updated on Feb 26, 2020 07:35 PM IST
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An artist works on a carnival mask at the Venice Art Mask workshop. The company also gets orders year-round from those attending masquerade balls, as well as filmmakers and theatre producers looking for costumes. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, for example, famously wore two of the studio’s masks in the 1999 Stanley Kubrick film “Eyes Wide Shut”. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

An artist works on a carnival mask at the Venice Art Mask workshop. The company also gets orders year-round from those attending masquerade balls, as well as filmmakers and theatre producers looking for costumes. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, for example, famously wore two of the studio’s masks in the 1999 Stanley Kubrick film “Eyes Wide Shut”. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

Updated on Feb 26, 2020 07:35 PM IST
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Edmond Angoni, owner of the Venice Art Mask workshop, speaks to AFP at a quiet studio in northern Albania. The studio was founded in 1997 by Edmond Angoni who worked in Italy before returning home to open his own shop. “Each mask has its own beauty, magic and mystery,” he told AFP. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

Edmond Angoni, owner of the Venice Art Mask workshop, speaks to AFP at a quiet studio in northern Albania. The studio was founded in 1997 by Edmond Angoni who worked in Italy before returning home to open his own shop. “Each mask has its own beauty, magic and mystery,” he told AFP. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

Updated on Feb 26, 2020 07:35 PM IST
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A visitor looks for a carnival mask. “We put a lot of emphasis on the artistic side of the masks, treating them with passion and love like works of art,” he said.The mask showroom is also becoming an attraction of its own for tourists who can peruse the dizzying display of faces, including luxury masks adorned with silver and gold leaf, feathers, diamonds and pearls. Interested visitors can purchase a mask—or simply don one of the disguises for the 3 euro entrance fee. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

A visitor looks for a carnival mask. “We put a lot of emphasis on the artistic side of the masks, treating them with passion and love like works of art,” he said.The mask showroom is also becoming an attraction of its own for tourists who can peruse the dizzying display of faces, including luxury masks adorned with silver and gold leaf, feathers, diamonds and pearls. Interested visitors can purchase a mask—or simply don one of the disguises for the 3 euro entrance fee. (Gent SHKULLAKU / AFP)

Updated on Feb 26, 2020 07:35 PM IST
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