Images of the Month
February 1998

One of the most enduring, and endearing, aspects of the Crescent City's annual Mardi Gras is the practice of masking on the BIG DAY. Not everyone dons mask and costume on Fat Tuesday, but enough visitors and natives do enter into the traditional spirit of the celebration to insure that an element of mystery remains one of the joys of the climax to the carnival season. Anyone who has participated in the general masking of Mardi Gras knows that there is a transformation of sorts that allows for a temporary change in disposition and point-of-view if not an outright change in behavior.

This month's gallery celebrates the age old tradition of masking and costuming on Mardi Gras with ten images (plus a bit of lagniappe) selected from the collections housed in the Louisiana Division. These images remind us that there is a good deal of innocent fun to be had on a day that is unfortunately gaining a reputation for excessive behavior and indecent exposure.

A group of maskers on Canal Street in the early part of the twentieth century as depicted on a picture postcard published by J. Scordill of New Orleans.. [Louisiana Division Post Card Collection]

George Francois Mugnier captured this image of traditional maskers, ca. 1907.. [George Francois Mugnier Collection]

Maskers in the Vieux Carre, ca. 1905, as photographed by Alexander Allison. [Alexander Allison Collection

The Frankenstein monster and his reluctant bride prepare for their appearance on the street. This photograph was taken in Lyle Saxon's room at the St. Charles Hotel, probably in the late 1940s. [Robert Tallant Photograph Collection]

For more than thirty years, Leda H. Plauche (1886-1980) designed costumes and floats for a number of carnival organizations, including Rex and Proteus. At the left is one of her drawings for an unidentified carnival ball. [Leda Plauche Collection]

A typical Mardi Gras scene on Canal St. during the 1950s.. [General Interest Collection--Mardi Gras]

Political Cowboys Part I.
Mayor Moon Landrieu with his family at the Gallier Hall reviewing stand on Mardi Gras, ca. 1975 (photograph by David Nelson) [General Interest Collection--Mardi Gras]

Political Cowboys Part II
Mayor Marc H. Morial, in his younger days, donned a cowboy hat to celebrate Mardi Gras with his father, other family members, and guests, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, at Gallier Hall in 1980 (Photograph by Porter's Photo News). [Municipal Government Collection, Mayor Ernest N. Morial Series]

Some masked faces just stand out the the crowd! "Lay-away Luke" made his appearance at Mardi Gras, 1983. [General Interest Collection--Mardi Gras]

Zulu royalty in their Carnival finery, ca. 1981. [Keith Weldon Medley Collection]


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