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Masking and Mardi Gras Indians: The present guardians of the flame

Editor's Note: Some people celebrate Christmas in July but here in New Orleans, we like to celebrate the Mardi Gras traditions and participants all year round. The tradition of masking and the Mardi Gras Indians stretches back more than 130 years. Each year, Mardi Gras Indian groups, including the Guardians of the Flame, masquerade in suits they have skillfully and tirelessly hand-beaded over many months. Cherice feels that “masking” is not quite sufficient to explain what it is she and her group do each year. In her words, “I have taken what is in the deepest crevices of my soul, in the very marrow of my bones, and it has manifested itself as an original art, but its spiritual and it is me. It is the essence of me, and so I am not masking.”  Below is a video of Mardi Gras morning 2017:

Video by Christian Colletti.

 

To view the next piece of our three part project, featuring Markeith Tero and the Young Rollers Social Aid and Pleasure Club, click here.

Kelley Crawford is a professor, writer, mentor, dancer, and constant questioner. If you would like to contact Kelley Crawford, you can email her at kelley@nolavie.com.