|OLG and DCRT
2014-15 through 2018-19
The Atchafalaya Heritage Area has been designated by Congress as a National Heritage Area.
Courir du Mardi Gras
Customs practiced in rural Louisiana, explored through artifacts, documentary film and photographs, provides compelling evidence of Carnival's medieval roots. Figures such as the archetypal "straw man," costume elements like the capuchon, and ritualistic activities - clowning, begging, gender and role reversal, mock flagellation - resemble rites associated with village festivals of twelfth-century Europe. The courir (run), a seemingly chaotic quest to obtain ingredients for a communal gumbo, actually involves a complex system of rules. Characteristics of activities specific to individual rural communities can be linked to the French f´ête de la quémande, wherein disguised revelers visited countryside households, performing for offerings; other European-derived customs such as belsnickling and mumming; and certain Afro-Caribbean traditions. Because courirs historically have taken place in isolated areas where illiteracy was prevalent, the historical record is sketchy. The exhibition does, however, contain rare photographs and oral evidence of early twentieth century activities. Encased in this gallery are two costumes, discovered in a house in New Roads, that date from around 1910.