Murano Glass and Venetian Glass refer to the same glassware made on Murano island in Venice, Italy. Many of GlassOfVenice customers ask whether Murano Glass and Venetian Glass are the same things and why there is confusion about the proper name. The explanation requires a brief excursion into the history of Murano Glass.
So why are both names in use and how can we be sure they mean the same thing?
- Murano Glass has its origins in the Venetian Lagoon. Murano Glass is an ancient craft that has its origins in ancient Egypt, then it reached new significance in the Roman Empire and after its fall the center of glassmaking emerged in the Venetian Lagoon. In the 1960s archeologists unearthed the foundations of an 8th century AD glass factory in the Venetian Lagoon on the island of Torcello. At that time Torcello was the center of life in the Venetian Lagoon, and remained so until Venice grew in importance and assumed that role.
- Later Venice became the center of glass-making, and Murano island was a part of Venice. More and more glass factories and workshops started to open in Venice, and by the 12th century the local glass artisans (called Fiolari) became members of an official trade guild called Arte Fiolara, or glass blowing guild. This is how the glass from the Venetian Lagoon became known as Venetian Glass. However, many of the glass furnaces registered in the city of Venice were in fact situated on Murano island, which was initially an administrative part of Venice but won its independence from Venice in 1278.
- In 1291 the Great Council of Venice decreed that all furnaces in the city of Venice had to be demolished due to the risk of fires, but furnaces could be constructed and operated elsewhere in the Venetian Lagoon. Murano was already at that time an independent adminsitrative center in the Venetian Lagoon. Because of this, starting in 1291 all Murano glass-making moved to Murano island, where working furnaces already existed. Of course, since then the glassware from this region received the name of Murano Glass, even though eventually glass-making was again allowed in Venice and in later centuries many factories existed in the historical center of Venice as well as on Murano island.
- The confusion in the proper naming of Murano glassware still exists today. The reason is mainly the fact that Murano island is currenty administratively again a part of Venice (it lost its independence from Venice in1924), so all glass made in Murano is technically glass made in Venice. Both terms, Murano Glass and Venetian Glass, can be used interchangeably but the term Murano Glass is more commonly used by artists, collectors, sellers, regulatory bodies, and even museums. Whether handmade glassware from the Venetian lagoon is called Murano Glass or Venetian Glass, it is authentic if it is handcrafted on Murano island according the ancient techniques and traditions of the craft.
At GlassOfVenice.com we believe that it is important to understand the roots of Murano Glass and its rich history in order to truly understand the unique value and historical significance of Murano Glass Art. Learn more about Murano Glass on our blog and in our special Murano Glass portal.