Mardi Gras Carnival Art / February 20, 2019 / Cindy Navarro
Masks made from pale pastel plumage with shiny sequins are standard fare at Mardi gras Carnival and masquerade parties. There s an allure and style to them possessed by no other costume element. Much is made of our desire to pretend and the imagination s ability to do so. Few activities give us the opportunity as readily as does the costume party. Frills and flourishes that have no other place are found in abundance at parades of show costume-clad dancers wearing yards of sequined fishnet and feathered elegance. None of it would have the same mystery without the elegance of the mask. These beautiful adornments have a history of their own that heralds back to court functions in pre-Revolutionary France. There s the hint of a palace in every feathery sequined one of them.
The parades in New Orleans now begin up to three weeks before Mardi Gras with the Carnival season officially starting on the January 6th the Feast of Epiphany. The French Quarter of the city is the heart of the celebration which concludes promptly at midnight on Mardi Gras with the police asking revelers to scatter and the massive clean up getting under way. The krewe system was originally a hierarchical method that showcased the elite of the Carnival and usually New Orleans society. However in the latter part of the 20th century the exclusivity of the krewes was tempered by the formation of new more democratic krewes for which no credentials were required.
These doubloons are anodized in many different colors and made of aluminum. They usually depict the theme of the parade on one side and the emblem of the Krewe throwing them on the other. Over the years these have become collector s items. For the Bacchus Kings parade doubloons are thrown with the image of the Celebrity King on one side of the doubloon. And for those lucky enough to catch one and hold onto it it s a sure fire souvenir to be kept forever. Other more popular throws are cups (also known as dinnerware of New Orleans) stuffed animals and long pearl beads. Warning! Don t Reach Down to Pick Up Doubloons!! If you are at your first parade and start to reach down to pick up a doubloon with your hand you can expect your fingers to never be the same! Why you ask? When doubloons hit the ground all those around stomp the ground and rush to claim them.