Pantalone (Pantaloon)

[Image of Pantalone]This is the best-known of the Venetian masks. From its first appearance amongst the theatrical commedia dell’arte companies, Pantaloon "the Magnificent" spoke in unadulterated Venetian dialect. It is said his name derives from San Pantaleone, one of the city’s most venerated saints after whom a church is even named. Others say the name comes from "Piantaleoni" referring to the merchants who went to "plant the lion" of San Marco in conquered lands, places where it was possible to establish new trade. Grevembroch affirms that the term is even older and stems from a Greek expression, "Panda Leonda" meaning "Powerful in all things".

Pantaloon is an old merchant, often very rich and highly esteemed by the nobility, but sometimes a merchant in ruin (Pantalon de’ Bisognosi). In either case he is still a very special old man because despite his age he is still capable of making amorous advances which never conclude in a positive way.

He is a hard-nosed businessman, to the point of sacrificing the happiness of his sons and family harmony just so he can arrange some advantageous marriage.

The costume consists of a Greek woolen cap, a red jacket, short belted breeches with a sword, or a hanky or a bag hanging form the belt. He wears a black cloak over his shoulders lined with red on the inside, black slippers or Turkish babouches with the ends pointing upwards. The mask reveals a large hooked nose, accentuated eyebrows and a curious goaty beard, which he usually strokes with his fingers.

The Pantaloon costume is amongst the most popular during the carnival period in that it was a mask that represented something extra – at a time when the nobility was losing itself to luxury and frivolities, Pantaloon represents a commercial mind and a business acumen that was starting to take off amongst the Venetian bourgeoisie.