Carnival in Haiti - Ciray Costume

This is what I know about "Madi Gras Ciray" which is the people you always see in the carnival that you don't want them to come close to.


According to some some elderly Haitians that i had the privilege to speak to about the Haitian Carnival, I learned that the "Madi gras Ciray do have a meaning in the Haitian history going back to the colonization period.

Painting oneself in black has been a way to avoid capture and consequently heavy punishment from the Slave master. I was told that during the season that came before easter, only the "Colon or slave masters were allowed to do public celebration. The Afranchi or "Les Gens de Couleur" were to some extent allowed to participate in some limited celebration. For the Black slaves, public celebration were forbidden

Painting oneself in black was a way for the Black slave to participate in street celebration despite interdiction imposed by their White Masters. By wearing no shirt and painting themselves with a black liquid that is slippery makes it hard for them to be captured and consequently punished by the master

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