The mask is the key used for they can’t tell whether you are laughing or crying wherever Mardi Gras is celebrated. Masks can’t tell how absolutely drunk one is and helps erase the consequence which rider’s wants folk to say that they did not see you celebrate or recognize you.
In South Louisiana, myriad small communities celebrate French inspired Fat Tuesday Runs through their towns on horse backs, flatbed trucks and ATVs.They also celebrate hordes of colorfully garbed riders blaze in the course of the middle of big, Cajun crowds while singing, shouting and begging for nickels, trinkets and ingredients for a gumbo meal which is shared by the community later that night. The captains or the runs overlords wear traditional wild flashy robes and pointed hats,capuchin,while barking directions to their foolish riders, and leaves their faces exposed to let everyone know who is in charge.However,the drunken and debauched riders hides their human identities behind various parish specific masks made and molded out of wire mesh. (image by : Paul Jones)
The plain wire masks features regular plain nose, slightly shorter than capuchins, while basile,s masks has no nose, are simple styled and directly painted onto the screen.
Lou Trahan,a mask maker, unlike others, she covers her masks with colored felt, yarn,buttons,lace and other knickknacks from the Egan community in south west of Lota. Friends admired her works soon they saw it from her husband and her two boys who had wore while running with Mermentau.
Trahan works slowed down soon a disease struck her horses and later, trucks broke down affecting for eight years before she thought to continue utilizing aluminum window screens for her masks.To the riders, she cover her masks completely with stuff to make them warmer and are flexible to the face thus she does advice horse riders be riding slowly in the trucks down the trail while its cold. She sets her masks apart with an addition of soft sculptured mouths, and noses (dought nose) which are reminiscent of wire masks.
Thousands of participants and riders on horseback earlier could have been partially credited but now huge celebrated in Eunice from the Manuel family who ran with women as their costume maker whenever their families needed costumes and readily got them down to the nitty gritty. The kids in the city enjoyed so much history and culture here.
Manuel’s wire masks are more or less flat and give off an aura and a style to the facial features applied with paint and none of them has a nose. Her works are featured in books such as unique slant of light, and in permanent exhibits at Prairie Acadian Cultural Center.
Unlike other areas where women do most of the masking, everyone in Tee Mamou community makes wire masking. When the folks were wearing their masks in France, they didn’t want to be identified as they went around begging from people they knew. They were proud and didn’t want to be humiliated. That is why they sort of performed to earn what they were given and now the mask is just pay- acting, for the element of surprise. (image by : cajunzydecophotos)
In southern Louisiana,Mardi Gras celebrations invites the whole community to run, go to the meetings, join the group, learn the song and have the proper dress indicating that the masks have to be screen based. The popular Tee Mamou masks are traditionally characterized by long noses and bright colored decorations but designs often evolve. Originally, the masks used to have beards and hair made out of horsehair but currently one can just buy wigs. They also had to sew a lot of stuff on the masks but now use glue guns to stick. They also have more access to more trims than braids enhancing comfort to the riders who do wear these masks for long.
Miller, whose masks she calls double screen has really developed her style to plastic mesh on the inside and wire on outside. With the double screen, you can see out of the mask but they can’t see in as the plastic is transparent and easier on the skin and the wire keeps the molded face shape.
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Feature image by : Steve Grundy