Popularised by a recurring character in the commedia dell’arte by the same name (also known as Columbine or Columbina), the Columbina is traditionally a half mask adorned with an ornate variety of Jewels, feathers and fabrics. Often painted in gold or silver, it was held in place by either a ribbon or a stick.
Colombina is a maidservant and the lover of Arlecchino. She dressed in a ragged and patched dress, similar to her counterpart Arlecchino (or Harlequin). She was also known to wear heavy makeup around her eyes and carry a tambourine which she could use to fend off the amorous advances of Pantalone.
The Doctor is the local aristocrat, and/or doctor of medicine or law or anything else he claims to know about, which is most things. Extremely rich, he adores food and good wines, thus he is a little round. He is typically depicted as an elderly man who only knows nonsense. He makes many cruel jokes about the opposite sex and believes that he knows everything about everything.
Pulcinella or Punch started out as an idiot simpleton servant, who developed into a complex , cunning character. This poor love-struck hunchback eventually became the model for the English variation – ‘Punch and Judy’. Pulcinella was witty and crafty character but also full of common sense.
Meaning ‘cat’ in Italian, the Gatto is unsurprisingly shaped like the face of a cat, with the characteristic pointy ears, narrow eyes and button nose. Perhaps more surprising is that it owes its genesis to the scarcity of cats in Venice during the days of the Republic, indicating that felines were prized above other species of domestic animal on account of their rarity