Sociology- Venetian Glass Blowing

Sociology- Venetian Glass Blowing - Venetian Glass Blowing...

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Venetian Glass Blowing Kristin McGuire Sociology of Italian Fashion and Design 26/04/2011 Venice: a city best known for its watery streets, hundreds of connecting bridges, and gondolas which guide visitors through the mysterious, narrow canals. But there is far more beauty on the island- unrelated to the unique waterways. Venice and its surrounding islands boast some of the most talented glassblowers and most stunning glasswork.
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The tradition of glass blowing was already established in areas around the Mediterranean, but Venice became the Mecca for this craft as the republic grew as a trading center. Glass blowing began in Venice in the eighth century 1 , but with each new century, the craft developed and gained prestige. Venice, having numerous contacts with regions along the Mediterranean, grew as a center of trade and as a bridge between the east and the west. Many Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt, Syeria, and Palestine, already had a well established glass blowing craft. The fact that the craft was better developed in the East that in Europe played in Venice’s favor because it had the best connections to the East. Byzantine craftsmen also played a vital role in the glass industry in Venice. In 1204, artisans escaped from Constantinople when the city was sacked by the Fourth Crusade. Again in 1453, when the Ottomans over ran Constantinople, more glassmakers made Venice their home 2 . Murano is best known as the center of glassmaking in Venice. The craft made its move from Venice to Murano when, in 1291, the Venetian Republic ordered the demolition of all foundries in the city 3 . Fearing fire and destruction (the city was almost entirely made of wood), the Venetian Republic encouraged the construction of these foundries across the canals. By the thirteenth century, Murano was the new center for the glass-making craft. Records show that by the fifteenth century, there were over three-thousand glass blowers working on the island of Murano 4 . The glassmakers of Murano were some of the most prominent citizens as the craft gained prestige. By the fourteenth century, the craftsmen were given the honor of wearing swords, and they were afforded immunity from the Venetian state. Additionally, their daughters were allowed to marry into the 1 A History of Venetian Glassmaking 2 Venetian Glass History 3 Murano Island of Glass 4 A History of Venetian Glass
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most affluent families 5 . This allowed the industry workers to make a leap in both economic and social status. Additionally, the glass-workers had the potential to gain powerful allies and investors through these marriages. Venetian authorities wanted to keep the industry heavily controlled, keeping the trade and its secrets local. They offered rewards and incentives for glassblowers to join guilds, but also regulated strict laws for these craftsmen. For example, it was against the law for the glass makers to leave the Republic; however, many took the risk, setting up shops foundries as far as England and spreading the
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This note was uploaded on 11/27/2011 for the course SOC 200 taught by Professor Johnson during the Spring '10 term at Loyola Chicago.

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Sociology- Venetian Glass Blowing - Venetian Glass Blowing...

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