Costume - Haiti Observer Blog

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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

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Jacmel Mardi Gras Smashes Stereotypes

Jacmel is a city unto itself. Lying on the coastal waters of the Caribbean Sea, its celebration of Carnival knows no parallel elsewhere in Haiti. The focus of Carnival in Jacmel is Mardi Gras, the day before Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. Christians on this feast day receive a smudge of ash in the form of a cross on their foreheads, signifying repentance.

While other cities across Haiti celebrate Carnival with crowds of jostling dancers in traditional garb, Jacmel turns these entrenched practices on its head, preferring to stage impromptu theatre pieces in random spots along its streets.

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