Murano is a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. It has been famous for its glass making for centuries.
Venetian merchants were trading in glass from the Mideast and Asia over a thousand years ago. They quickly learned the ancient secrets of glassmaking; the earliest documents that involved Venetian glass art are dated 982 A.D.
Venetian master glassmakers didn’t just copy ancient Oriental techniques. They developed and molded them according to their personal tastes and their growing technical abilities. Murano glass as we know it is a harmonious blend of Oriental techniques and Italian imagination and creativity, starting with the invention of truly clear art glass.
Venetians were afraid of fire from their glass furnaces and were anxious to keep their precious knowledge secret. In 1291, all the glassmakers in Venice were forced to move to Murano. The island became famous for glass beads, mirrors, chandeliers, goblets and other fine crystal. Avventurine glass was invented on the island, and for a while Murano was the main producer of glass in Europe. Glassmaking is still the island’s main industry.
After 1291, Murano’s glassmakers were soon numbered among the island’s most prominent citizens. By the fourteenth century, glassmakers were allowed to wear swords, enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venetian state and found their daughters married into Venice’s most affluent families. While benefiting from certain privileges, glassmakers were forbidden to leave the Republic.
Today Murano is a crown jewel in the Venetian cultural heritage of Italy.
Murano’s glassmakers held a monopoly on high-quality glassmaking for centuries, developing and refining many technologies including optically clear glass, enameled glass, glass that resembles minerals such as onyx and porphery (calcedonia), glass with particles of gold (avventurine), multicolored glass (millefiori), milk glass (lattimo), and imitation gemstones made of glass.
Today, the artisans of Murano still employ these centuries-old techniques, crafting everything from contemporary fine art glass and Murano glass figurines, chandeliers and jewelry.
True Venetian artisans devote their passion to glass artistry. They are unwilling to mass produce and still use antique furnaces. This means that every glass object made in Murano has its own unique and unrepeatable beauty that is unreproducible by any other glass-maker.