Mardi Gras Indian groups, known as tribes or gangs, define themselves by the neighborhoods where they live in the Greater New Orleans Area of Louisiana. All of the suits worn by the members of these tribes are hand sewn and hand beaded. Every picture or design on a suit is comprised of hundreds of beads sewn one at a time. Suits will often have several layers of beading that lay one a top another. At the front of the suit these layers are called aprons and a wearer shows these off by lifting the top one or two to expose the bottom layer while promenading down the street. The objective is to have the prettiest suit in town. Each year the participant makes a new suit. The design, color and theme of each suit are determined by the wearer or by the leader of the tribe. What a suit looks like is kept a secret from ‘outsiders’ until Mardi Gras day when the members of a tribe meet up and parade thru the streets of the city, making stops at local bars and clubs or other sites of importance to them, and meeting and greeting other tribes along the way. Often many members of a family and trusted friends are involved in sewing or beading pieces of a suit which are then all put together. Even the children are involved in the sewing, thus passing down the tradition. Some entire families, down to the infants, mask together. A tribe has select members in roles such as a Big Chief, a Second Chief, a Queen, a Spy Boy, a Flag Boy, a Witch Doctor, and a Wild Man. Each role is significant and plays an important part in the move thru the streets. For example, it is the Spy Boy’s job to go a block or two a head of the tripe and to signal the tribe members when another tribe is spotted approaching the same area. Many of the members of these groups are also musicians. The tribe parades thru the streets singing traditional Mardi Gras Indian songs and playing tambourines and drums. They are sometimes joined by brass bands. In addition to parading thru the city in these beautiful, elaborate costumes on Mardi Gras day, these tribes often perform for other events in the city and around the world often intermingling members of different tribes. This is a historical tradition of New Orleans culture.
Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Keywords:Brass Band, Culture, Indian, Mardi Gras, Music, NOLA, New Orleans, Performance, Second Line, artistic, celebrate, costume, gang, masking, tradition, tribe