Monday, December 13, 2010

NOLA's Black Indians: Are These Wild Men?

I took these photos last year during the 2009 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Actually, I shot video that was too crowded with tourists walking in front of my view to post online. More photos are posted on my Facebook page. I probably need to check this with Kalamu ya Salaam, but I think these two black Mardi Gras Indians in the first two photos both serve as the wild man that clears the path for the Big Chief.

This last photo shows the detail on one of the suits.


CCGroovy!!! said...


Based on the headdress, and the artwork on the chest panels and apron; they either hold the post of Wild Man or are fellow Warriors.

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

Thank you, CCG. At first I thought it was only the one in white who was the Wild Man but looking at the headdress of the other one and how both men warded off the crowd, I thought that they both were. But I wasn't sure b/c I thought that each tribe had only one.

Barbara Ekstrom said...

Yes, those are Wild Men! One tell tale sign is they almost always are wearing horns of some sort, either right on their heads or in the beadwork of their suits. There would be more than one wildman; larger tribes might have several, but there is a pecking order: First Wildman, Second, Third, etc. The same is true with the other tribe positions like Flag Boy, Spy Boy, and even Big Chief & Big Queen.

There is a fantastic essay about the history of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian culture you should check out. The interviews with some of the old timers offer priceless bits of insight into the structure, heirarchy, art, music, dance, and spirituality that drives their traditions. (The introduction is a little long winded, btw - skip it & go right to the good stuff ;)