Mardi Gras Indians

Super Sunday, this year rescheduled due to rain and held on March 30th, is the day on which the Mardi Gras Indians mask and march.

Not to be confused with American Indians, the Mardi Gras Indians are generally composed of residents of African American communities in New Orleans, although their suits do have a tendency to look like brightly coloured American Indian costumes and their tribes are generally named after American Indians in honour of those who provided sanctuary to escaped slaves.

Little is known or confirmed about the origins of the Mardi Gras Indians, although it is believed they date back to the late 1600s.

Historically the marching of the Mardi Gras Indians was a violent affair, with the Big Chief of each tribe challenging the others for respect. Gun and knife fights ensued as tribes met each other. Now the ritualistic warfare is mimicked in dance and song, and Super Sunday is a friendly celebration, with tribes masking and parading in their finary for an admiring public.

Each suit takes thousands of hours (apparently a whole year) and dollars to create. I hope the detail that goes into the beading is evident in this photo.

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Mardi Gras Indians

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