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Let The Good Times Roll - Mistick Krewe of Comus

Discussion in 'The Ladies Tea' started by 18thVirginia, Feb 15, 2017.

  1. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    Comus_Parade_New_Orleans_1858.jpg
    Mystick Krewe of Comus parade, 1858

    A mention on another thread about the Krewe of Comus reminded me of some drawings of early costumes for Comus parades that date back to the 1870s. The Mystick Krewe of Comus was the earliest Mardi Gras organization, formed in 1857, allegedly by Anglo-American businessmen who wanted to bring some civility to the street bash that was celebrated on Fat Tuesday. Comus initiated the first night parade with sophisticated costumes and a ball at the end of the evening. Some 3,000 invitations were issued to the wealthiest citizens of the City.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2017

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  3. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    Last edited: Feb 15, 2017
  4. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    Comus paraded in 1861, but on the eve of war coming to the Crescent City in 1862, the Krewe elected not to parade.

    To Ye Mistick Krewe –

    GREETINGS!

    WHEREAS, War has cast its gloom over our happy homes and care usurped the place where joy is wont to hold its sway. Now, therefore, do I deeply sympathizing with the general anxiety, deem it proper to withhold your Annual Festival in this goodly Crescent City and by this proclamation do command no assemblage of the

    -MISTICK KREWE-

    Given under my hand this, the 1st day of March A.D. 1862.

    Comus
     
  5. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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  6. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    DSCN3457.jpg

    1873 Comus Ball, on the infamous theme of "The Missing Link of Darwin's Origin of the Spiecies"
     
  7. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    953cc1aebd00e47ef32cbd374219ec37.jpg

    Comus Costume Design, 1870s
     
  8. 18thVirginia

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    LSM_.1979.120.063.jpg

    Mardi Gras 1866.

    With the Civil War ended, Mardi Gras resumed parading in 1866.
     
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  9. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    91e178e79bb6a35289b2e17f8e1c853a.jpg

    Shrimp costume 1870s
     
  10. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    5cad4d220af51856868f7d5d19d86cee.jpg

    These were a series of costumes to mock Charles Darwin.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  11. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    Sheep.jpg
    Sheep costume, 1870s
     
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  12. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    The balls held by Mardi Gras krewes were exclusive affairs with the friends of the krewe and those in other krewes the only invitees. They were also secretive affairs with the names of the krewe members unknown to the public. As you can see from the photo below, the King of Comus remains masked even today.

    -31cd766889c3c7cb.JPG

    http://photos.nola.com/4500/gallery/comus/index.html#/11
     
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  13. 18thVirginia

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    Rex_Parade_1872.jpg
    Program for a Rex Parade, 1870s

    In the midst of Reconstruction Louisiana, in 1872 a group of businessmen formed a new Krewe to parade in the daytime, Rex, which became the King of Mardi Gras. Green, purple and gold were adopted as the official colors of Mardi Gras.
     
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  14. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    -a9318f38cb1b4170.jpg

    Arrival of Rex, engraving from Scribner's Magazine, 1873
     
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  15. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Wonderful thread. Just love the costumes.

    In 1884 Winnie Davis, daughter of Jefferson Davis, and the daughters of Robert E. Lee, A.P. Hill and Stonewall Jackson were in the Court of Comus.

    In 1892 Winnie was Queen of Comus. See her picture at:
    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~laudc/museum.htm
     
  16. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    winnie.gif
    Winnie Davis, daughter of Jefferson Davis as Queen of Comus

    The theme of Comus that year was "Nippon, Land of the Rising Sun," and all the costumes were Japanese inspired. As you can see, Davis's dress is a kimono.

    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~laudc/museum.htm

    Thank you for the information, donna.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
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  17. Blessmag

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    Touch of the KKK on horseback??
     
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  18. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    Since Mardi Gras was and is so central to the life of the entire community of New Orleans, we probably have to look at the background of the era in which parades rolled through the city. In our own era, there were questions about whether to cancel Mardi Gras after Katrina, but the events went on. A satirical Krewe which parades through the French Quarter took as its theme, "Like a Fridge Over Troubled Water" and featured cardboard refrigerators and blue tarps (all refrigerators had to be discarded post Katrina and removing them was a major task requiring new landfills) and floats called “Give Me That Mold Time Religion.”

    Given that the men described as forming the Comus Krewe were "Anglo-American," and that this took place during a time when there was a continuing division between the old French and Spanish cultures of New Orleans and the newer Anglo citizens with both groups jostling for power, one could assume that part of the rationale behind this Krewe and parade was to assert Anglo dominance over what is usually a tradition in Latin countries, the celebrations preceding Lent. This quote from a Creole newspaper reinforces that impression.

    The various [American] characters are not worth a description, either for who they were, or the uptown citizens concealed behind them.
    https://books.google.com/books?id=1...q=engraving+mardi gras costumes+1860s&f=false

    Similarly, some authors feel the return to parading after the Civil War, especially in the early 1870s, was marked by an attempt to reinforce notions of white supremacy, particularly after the passage of the 14th and 15th amendments.

    The 1873 Comus parade was set against a background of increasing Reconstruction violence in Louisiana. It set the stage for a satirical side to Mardi Gras that would persist through the future. The parade theme, "The Missing Links to Darwin's Origin of the Species," allowed for costumes that targeted various politicians and even Union generals.

    2012.jpg

    Although we may not recognize some of the caricatures of political figures of the 1870s, that of Benjamin Butler is easily discerned (with his spoon).
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2017
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  19. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    You might notice that the Rex attendants are dressed like Louisiana Zouaves.

    00e9257598ef48c559c03d3afe7db66a.jpg
    pinterest.com

    -a9318f38cb1b4170.jpg
     
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  20. 18thVirginia

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    The 1873 Comus parade was the first year that political neutrality would no longer be observed by the Mardi Gras revelers. It was also the first year that the costumes were produced in New Orleans rather than in France. The drawings in this thread are by Charles Briton, a Swedish-born designer who produced sketches of plants and animals along with the caricatures of political figures like Butler as a hyena, Governor Henry Clay Warmoth as a snake, and Lt. Governor C. C. Antoine as a monkey. Comus had no floats that year, just the costumed revelers.

    You can browse through the sketches in the collection below, although we don't know which of them are cartoonish representations of politicians and generals.

    http://cdm16313.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/collection/p15140coll3

    Camel.jpg
    Lion.jpg

    7f36efc1a84fbb7bfa94ab2cb5505e19.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
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  21. 18thVirginia

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