TITLE: Cajun Mardi Gras
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUB-REGION: Acadiana, Louisiana
ETHNICITY: Cajun
DESCRIPTION: Cajun-Style Mardi Gras Abstract Face Mask
CATALOG ID: NAUS089
MAKER: Chris Raymond (Metairie, Louisiana, 1964- )
CEREMONY: Courir de Mardi Gras
AGE: 2024
MAIN MATERIAL: steel wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed cotton cloth; dyed synthetic cloth; cotton batting; glue; paint; elastic band

In Catholic practice, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) is the last day of celebration of Carnival before the fasting period of Lent. In the Acadiana country of southern Louisiana, the descendants of French Canadian immigrants known as “Cajuns” (short for “Acadians”) celebrate Mardi Gras in a manner quite different from the better known Carnival of New Orleans.  The Courir de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras parade) occurs in most towns of Cajun country only on Mardi Gras itself.

Masqueraders wear full or partial wire mesh masks and quilted suits with tall, conical hats covered in colorful fabric.  They either ride from farm to farm on horseback or drive as a group in trucks with an unmasked leader wearing the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold.  When they reach a farm, the captain, who carries a whip in one hand and a white flag in the other, approaches the farmer and asks: “Le Mardi Gras demande votre permission pour visiter ta maison” (“The Mardi Gras requests permission to visit your house”), or words to that effect. Upon assent, the revelers descend and run or crawl toward the house, singing a begging song, then exploding into pranks and comedic antics while the captain tries to subdue them with his whip. The only way to make them leave is to donate gifts or money, traditionally a chicken for the evening gumbo, in which the farmer is invited to partake.

For more on the Acadian Carnival celebration, see the excellent book by Carl Lindahl and Carolyn Ware, Cajun Mardi Gras Masks (University Press of Mississippi, 1997).


A short video featuring Cajun Mardi Gras in Eunice, Louisiana, 2019.

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TITLE: Cajun Mardi Gras
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUB-REGION: Acadiana, Louisiana
ETHNICITY: Cajun
DESCRIPTION: Cajun-Style Mardi Gras Skull Mask
CATALOG ID: NAUS088
MAKER: Chris Raymond (Metairie, Louisiana, 1964- )
CEREMONY: Courir de Mardi Gras
AGE: 2024
MAIN MATERIAL: steel wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed synthetic cloth; plastic decorations; glue; paint; elastic band

In Catholic practice, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) is the last day of celebration of Carnival before the fasting period of Lent. In the Acadiana country of southern Louisiana, the descendants of French Canadian immigrants known as “Cajuns” (short for “Acadians”) celebrate Mardi Gras in a manner quite different from the better known Carnival of New Orleans.  The Courir de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras parade) occurs in most towns of Cajun country only on Mardi Gras itself.

Masqueraders wear full or partial wire mesh masks and quilted suits with tall, conical hats covered in colorful fabric.  They either ride from farm to farm on horseback or drive as a group in trucks with an unmasked leader wearing the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold.  When they reach a farm, the captain, who carries a whip in one hand and a white flag in the other, approaches the farmer and asks: “Le Mardi Gras demande votre permission pour visiter ta maison” (“The Mardi Gras requests permission to visit your house”), or words to that effect. Upon assent, the revelers descend and run or crawl toward the house, singing a begging song, then exploding into pranks and comedic antics while the captain tries to subdue them with his whip. The only way to make them leave is to donate gifts or money, traditionally a chicken for the evening gumbo, in which the farmer is invited to partake.

For more on the Acadian Carnival celebration, see the excellent book by Carl Lindahl and Carolyn Ware, Cajun Mardi Gras Masks (University Press of Mississippi, 1997).


A short video featuring Cajun Mardi Gras in Eunice, Louisiana, 2019.

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TITLE: Cajun Mardi Gras
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUB-REGION: Acadiana, Louisiana
ETHNICITY: Cajun
DESCRIPTION: Cajun-Style Mardi Gras Mask with Potato Nose
CATALOG ID: NAUS087
MAKER: Chris Raymond (Metairie, Louisiana, 1964- )
CEREMONY: Courir de Mardi Gras
AGE: 2024
MAIN MATERIAL: steel wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: burlap cloth; brass bells; plastic decorations; glue; paint; elastic band

In Catholic practice, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) is the last day of celebration of Carnival before the fasting period of Lent. In the Acadiana country of southern Louisiana, the descendants of French Canadian immigrants known as “Cajuns” (short for “Acadians”) celebrate Mardi Gras in a manner quite different from the better known Carnival of New Orleans.  The Courir de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras parade) occurs in most towns of Cajun country only on Mardi Gras itself.

Masqueraders wear full or partial wire mesh masks and quilted suits with tall, conical hats covered in colorful fabric.  They either ride from farm to farm on horseback or drive as a group in trucks with an unmasked leader wearing the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold.  When they reach a farm, the captain, who carries a whip in one hand and a white flag in the other, approaches the farmer and asks: “Le Mardi Gras demande votre permission pour visiter ta maison” (“The Mardi Gras requests permission to visit your house”), or words to that effect. Upon assent, the revelers descend and run or crawl toward the house, singing a begging song, then exploding into pranks and comedic antics while the captain tries to subdue them with his whip. The only way to make them leave is to donate gifts or money, traditionally a chicken for the evening gumbo, in which the farmer is invited to partake.

For more on the Acadian Carnival celebration, see the excellent book by Carl Lindahl and Carolyn Ware, Cajun Mardi Gras Masks (University Press of Mississippi, 1997).


A short video featuring Cajun Mardi Gras in Eunice, Louisiana, 2019.

:

TITLE: Cajun Mardi Gras
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUB-REGION: Acadiana, Louisiana
ETHNICITY: Cajun
DESCRIPTION: Mesh Mardi Gras Mask with Corn Cob Nose
CATALOG ID: NAUS086
MAKER: Kindy Devillier (Eunice, Louisiana, 1975- )
CEREMONY: Courir de Mardi Gras
AGE: 2024
MAIN MATERIAL: steel wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed cotton cloth; sweetgum balls; dried corn cob; whitetail deer leather and fur; dyed felt; elastic band; glue; paint

In Catholic practice, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) is the last day of celebration of Carnival before the fasting period of Lent. In the Acadiana country of southern Louisiana, the descendants of French Canadian immigrants known as “Cajuns” (short for “Acadians”) celebrate Mardi Gras in a manner quite different from the better known Carnival of New Orleans.  The Courir de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras parade) occurs in most towns of Cajun country only on Mardi Gras itself.

Masqueraders wear full or partial wire mesh masks and quilted suits with tall, conical hats covered in colorful fabric.  They either ride from farm to farm on horseback or drive as a group in trucks with an unmasked leader wearing the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold.  When they reach a farm, the captain, who carries a whip in one hand and a white flag in the other, approaches the farmer and asks: “Le Mardi Gras demande votre permission pour visiter ta maison” (“The Mardi Gras requests permission to visit your house”), or words to that effect. Upon assent, the revelers descend and run or crawl toward the house, singing a begging song, then exploding into pranks and comedic antics while the captain tries to subdue them with his whip. The only way to make them leave is to donate gifts or money, traditionally a chicken for the evening gumbo, in which the farmer is invited to partake.

For more on the Acadian Carnival celebration, see the excellent book by Carl Lindahl and Carolyn Ware, Cajun Mardi Gras Masks (University Press of Mississippi, 1997).


A short video featuring Cajun Mardi Gras in Eunice, Louisiana, 2019.

:

TITLE: Cajun Mardi Gras
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: North America
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUB-REGION: Acadiana, Louisiana
ETHNICITY: Cajun
DESCRIPTION: Mesh Mardi Gras Mask with Okra Nose
CATALOG ID: NAUS085
MAKER: Kindy Devillier (Eunice, Louisiana, 1975- )
CEREMONY: Courir de Mardi Gras
AGE: 2024
MAIN MATERIAL: steel wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: dyed cotton cloth; glass eyes; synthetic cork; dyed felt; elastic band; glue; paint

In Catholic practice, Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”) is the last day of celebration of Carnival before the fasting period of Lent. In the Acadiana country of southern Louisiana, the descendants of French Canadian immigrants known as “Cajuns” (short for “Acadians”) celebrate Mardi Gras in a manner quite different from the better known Carnival of New Orleans.  The Courir de Mardi Gras (Mardi Gras parade) occurs in most towns of Cajun country only on Mardi Gras itself.

Masqueraders wear full or partial wire mesh masks and quilted suits with tall, conical hats covered in colorful fabric.  They either ride from farm to farm on horseback or drive as a group in trucks with an unmasked leader wearing the traditional Mardi Gras colors of green, purple, and gold.  When they reach a farm, the captain, who carries a whip in one hand and a white flag in the other, approaches the farmer and asks: “Le Mardi Gras demande votre permission pour visiter ta maison” (“The Mardi Gras requests permission to visit your house”), or words to that effect. Upon assent, the revelers descend and run or crawl toward the house, singing a begging song, then exploding into pranks and comedic antics while the captain tries to subdue them with his whip. The only way to make them leave is to donate gifts or money, traditionally a chicken for the evening gumbo, in which the farmer is invited to partake.

For more on the Acadian Carnival celebration, see the excellent book by Carl Lindahl and Carolyn Ware, Cajun Mardi Gras Masks (University Press of Mississippi, 1997).


A short video featuring Cajun Mardi Gras in Eunice, Louisiana, 2019.

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TITLE: Moko Jumbie Mask
TYPE: hood mask
GENERAL REGION: Caribbean
COUNTRY: United States of America
SUBREGION: U.S. Virgin Islands
ETHNICITY: African American
DESCRIPTION: Traditional Moko Jumbie Hood and Face Mask
CATALOG ID: NAUV001
MAKER: Willard John (St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, 1951- )
CEREMONY: New Years/Carnival
AGE: 2020
MAIN MATERIAL: dyed cotton cloth; metal wire mesh
OTHER MATERIALS: stitching; leather; metal wire; metal strips; cowrie shells; elastic bands; paint; adhesive

The “Carnival” of the U.S. Virgin Islands actually occurs the week after New Year’s Day and lasts for several days. On the island of St. Croix, the Carnival formally lasts three days.  The first day is J’ouvert, meaning “I open,” and essentially consists of a large street party. The second day is a children’s parade followed by a music festival, and the last day is an adult parade, followed by fireworks.  The parades include celebrants of many types, the most unique of which are the Moko Jumbies, or masked stilt dancers.  Moko Jumbies are danced throughout the eastern Caribbean islands, and represent the lineage of masked stilt-dancing traditions brought to the Caribbean by slaves from northwest Africa. The African mukudji wear wood masks and costumes made from cloth and raffia fiber, dancing energetically and acrobatically to drums for the purposes of adult initiation and protection of the village. The best known mukudji are the Baule and Dan people of Côte d’Ivoire. Modern Moko Jumbies dance to Caribbean music purely for entertainment, but the ancestral significance of the practice is never far from the dancer’s mind. Today, cloth masks are much more common than traditional wire mesh masks, which somewhat inhibit vision.

For more on the Moko Jumbies, see Robert Wyndham Nicholls, The Jumbies’ Playing Ground (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2012).

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TITLE: Nuo Kaishan Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: China
SUBREGION: Guangxi
ETHNICITY: Maonan
DESCRIPTION: Nuo mask of Kaishan
CATALOG ID: ASCN012
MAKER: Unknown
CEREMONY: Nuoxi
FUNCTION: Agriculture; Celebration; Entertainment; Purification
AGE: 1940s
MAIN MATERIAL: poplar or willow wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint

The Nuoxi of China may be traced back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE), possibly much earlier (some believe the Shang and Zhou Dynasties) and was popular in large parts of the empire, but especially along the southern borders, where it was a form of entertainment for the imperial troops. It evolved from a sacrificial rite performed by shamans into a more dramatic form, with both Buddhist and Taoist overtones. Nuo opera is based on historical stories and stories based on the Taoist religion and all roles (including female roles) are performed by men. It evolved into a popular form of entertainment and was eventually accompanied by an orchestra of Chinese instruments.  The Nuo opera never quite lost its shamanic connection, however, and also was used to exorcise evil spirits at the home of sick persons. The sacred connection is evident from a religious ceremony that always precedes the opening of a Nuo opera.  In addition, a wooden statue representing the originator of the opera is present at every performance, and nobody except the opera troupe may touch props used in the performance. Although the Chinese Communist Party attempted to suppress Nuo performances and eliminated it from most of the country, the opera continues to be performed in three southern provinces of China today (Guangxi, Guizhou, and Jiangxi).

The Maonan people form a relatively small ethnic group in China, confined largely to Guangxi province, and it is one of several ethnic groups that adopted Nuo opera deeply into its culture. This mask represents the god Kaishan, “the mountain opener,” who leads the ceremony for the clearing or planting of a new field. His fierce face is supposed to scare away evil spirits.

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TITLE: Moor Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Mexico
SUBREGION: Guerrero
ETHNICITY: Nahua
DESCRIPTION: Moro (Moor) Mask
CATALOG ID: LAMX173
MAKER: Unknown maker in Atlihaca
CEREMONY: Danza de los Moros y Cristianos
AGE: ca. 1960s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: deer leather and fur; adhesive; paint; jute cord

The Danza de los Moros y Cristianos (Dance of the Moors and Christians), also known as the Danza de la Conquista, is an important celebration in many parts of Mexico. The dance reenacts the reconquest Spain from the Saracens by the European Christians. The dance arose from the teachings of missionaries as part of an effort to instill respect for and fear of the Spaniards in the indigenous peoples, and to convince them that the victory of Christianity over other faiths—by violence whenever necessary—was inevitable.

The dance is still performed widely in Mexico, including in Mexico State, Michoacán, Puebla, Veracruz, and parts of Guerrero. Characters vary depending on locality, although they always include “Christians” or “Spaniards” and Moors. This mask represents a Moor.

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TITLE: Conquista Tecu Uman
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Latin America
COUNTRY: Guatemala
SUBREGION: El Quiché
ETHNICITY: Mayan (K’iché)
DESCRIPTION: Tecu Uman Mask
CATALOG #: LAGT011
MAKER: Unknown maker in Chichicastenango with initials J.C.
CEREMONY: Danza de la Conquista
AGE: ca. 1970s
MAIN MATERIAL: wood
OTHER MATERIALS: paint; German glass doll eyes; wood putty

The Danza de la Conquista (Dance of the Conquest), also sometimes called the Baile de Cortès (Dance of Hernán Cortez), is a ceremony performed in many parts of Guatemala, as well as Mexico and other parts of Central and South America. In Guatemala, the dance is supposed to tell the story of the conquest of the Mayan Empires, led by Tecu Uman, by the Spanish conquistadors, led by Pedro de Alvarado or Hernán Cortez. The dance involves a complex set of speeches and songs and, in many places, takes several hours to complete, often in two or three separate acts. In San Cristóbal Totonicapán, the Spaniards are led by Alvarado and come with a disciplined army. They are aided by two female characters, one of whom represents Malinche (called Doña Marina by the Spaniards), an Aztec princess who served as Cortez’s translator. The Mayan war council is advised by a shaman known as the ajitz, who helps but whose prophecies of Spanish conquest are ignored. In addition, an Aztec renegade assists the Mayans. After many speeches, discussions, songs, and melee battles, the Mayans are ultimately conquered and converted to Catholicism.

For more on Guatemalan masks, see Jim Pieper, Guatemala’s Masks and Drama (University of New Mexico Press, 2006).

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TITLE: Setsubun Oni Mask
TYPE: face mask
GENERAL REGION: Asia
COUNTRY: Japan
SUBREGION: Okayama Prefecture
ETHNICITY: Japanese
DESCRIPTION: Paper maché oni mask for Mamemaki
CATALOG ID: ASJP001
MAKER: Unknown maker in Okayama Prefecture
CEREMONY: Mamemaki (Setsubun)
AGE: 2018
MAIN MATERIAL: paper maché
OTHER MATERIALS: plant fiber; dyed cotton cloth; dyed cotton rope; steel bells; cotton wadding; stitching; nylon bands; steel hardware; paint

Setsubun is the day before spring begins in the traditional Japanese calendar, now usually held February 2, 3 or 4. It is a holiday that involves purification rituals, the foremost among which is mamemaki, or bean-scattering. To celebrate, households throw fukumame (roasted soybeans) out of their front door or at a member of the family wearing an oni (demon) mask such as this one. As they do, they shout “Oni-wa soto! Fuku-wa uchi!” (“Demons out! Good fortune in!”) and slam their front door. In addition, they traditionally eat the fukumame, one for each year of their age plus an additional one for good luck. In modern times, these practices are often performed at a Shinto temple or shrine.

This mask was worn once in 2019 ritual in Okayama.

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