Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Under the Bridge

Click any photo to "embiggen"
On Mardi Gras Day, you don't want to be driving on Claiborne Avenue in the 7th Ward of New Orleans. That's the lesson I learned, when we headed up toward the Mother-in-Law Lounge to find the Mardi Gras Indians.

People were out in the neutral ground underneath the 10 freeway, spilling out into traffic lanes and crossing indiscriminately from road to sidewalk. Raucously buzzing four-wheeled ATVs raced up and through the traffic, popping wheelies, spinning, pivoting around.

In front of the Mother-in-Law, a pinto horse and a man in a traditional plains Indian suit held audience while people grilled pork chops on a big smoker.

The Lounge was a good place to buy a drink for the privilege of using the bathroom.

Further downtown under the bridge, we caught a flash of bright feathers. We crossed Claiborne along with everyone else, following them.

As each tribe encountered another, a face-off took place, as each chief asserted his claim that his suit was the "prettiest," while his followers chanted and played drum and tambourine.

Typically, each tribe has a Big Chief, a Queen, and an array of Spy Boys, Flag Boys and Wild Men who support them.

This is one tradition that, I'm happy to say, is being passed down to younger people. There were children wearing suits and playing music

Even very small kids - adorable!  I took photos until I drained every ounce of power from my camera and phone batteries. It was glorious!

Each suit is made by hand, custom-designed by its wearer. Mardi Gras Day is the first day they are seen in public. The tribes come out once again on St. Joseph's Day,  or Super Sunday, in March.

If you can't come to New Orleans on Mardi Gras Day or Super Sunday, you can see Mardi Gras Indian suits and regalia at the Backstreet Cultural Museum and at the House of Dance and Feathers, both dedicated to preserving the traditions of the New Orleans' African-American community.


Anonymous said...

And aren't they all pretty! (naomi)

David Duff said...

I have a headache!

Glennis said...

David, remind me to never go anyplace fun with you.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Great photos! I'm off to the internets to see how this all started. Never knew there were Mardi Gras Indians before I saw your posts on Facebook.