History of Carnival Costumes

In its broadest sense, “carnival” to a contest, festival, or public celebrations have been found throughout the world. It originated in prehistoric times, which vary in content, form, function and meaning from one culture to another. But in Europe and America, “carnival” refers specifically to the time of celebration and feasting precedes Lent. The general consensus is that it began in the Middle Ages, developed from the celebrations associated burlesque Easter, Christmas and other holidays as the Maypole, Quadrille Ball, Entrudo and All Saints. The word is said to come from upbeat carnem Latin, means to abstain from meat or farewell to meat, reflecting the self-denial such as fasting and penance during Lent. Its synonyms are carementrant French (approaching Lent), the German Fastnacht (overnight fast) and English carnival (referring to the three days provided for confession before Lent).

History of Carnival Costumes

Another school thought links the word “carnival” to Navalis Carrus Latin, a horse and cart to transport revelers, arguing that its aspects Christians grew out of season fertility rites or orgiastic Dionysian era Greco-Roman. These rites are known for their emphasis on the Spree, masking, satirical show, and periods of symbolic inversion of the social order that gave vent to the celebrants to let off steam.

In any case, while most of the basics of Carnival remains more or less intact, the form, content, context, and how clothing has changed dramatically over the centuries. This is especially true in America, where it was introduced carnival after the fifteenth century after European colonization.Since then it has absorbed new elements from Aboriginal, African and other ethnic groups. The emphasis is on the dress carnival black diaspora in the Caribbean, the United States and Brazil, where the carnival is known by other names such as Rara in Haiti, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Carnaval in Cuba and Brazil.

The African contribution carnival in America began when the slave masters Europeans allowed them captured Africans to demonstrate their ancestral heritage in art and entertainment on special occasions for recreation and therapeutic. These occasions are days of kings in Cuba, the Jonkonnu, “Ling celebrations and Pink Rochester in the United States and the Caribbean, and Batuque (drumming recreational) in Brazil. The various attempts to revive the enslaved black suits Festival Africans in America are well documented. The first entries describes slaves wearing horned masks and feathered headdresses, wearing shredded strips of fabric or paint their faces and bodies in different colors, just as they had done in their homeland. Some of these elements survive in the modern carnival, also in new forms and materials. many sketches by masked Carnival in Jamaica century by Isaac Belisario documents overs Africans. one of them did during Christmas celebrations in Kingston in 1836, shows a mask with a palm leaf costumes resembling the mask Sangbeto Yoruba and Fon in Nigeria and Benin Republic, respectively. a painting of the date of the celebration in Cuba Re followed in 1870 by the Spanish painter born Victor Patricio de Landaluze shows not only the black figures who play African drums, but also dancers wearing raffia skirts and animal skins. Near the drummers have a masquerade with a conical hat was introduced in Cuba from Ekoi, Abakpa and slaves from Ejagham Nigerian-Cameroon border where disguise is associated with the company’s main ship Ekpe. Now called Abakua is this masquerade is still a feature of the carnival twenty-first century in Cuba. Another African retention in modern carnival of blacks in America and Europe is Moco Jumbie, a masked on stilts. Aside from the fact that this type of disguise abound throughout Africa, appear in prehistoric rock art in the Sahara Desert, the trend during the round head, created about eight thousand years ago.


First, the public celebration of free blacks and slaves in America during the era of slavery occurred at the edge of the white space. But in the early twentieth century, the liberation brought different degrees of racial integration, black, white, making the Creoles, Indians, and new immigrants from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South Pacific to run the carnival together. Each group has contributed significantly since the repertoire of carnival dress, whilst at the same time elements borrowed from each other. For example, although the emphasis on the feathers of some masked unprecedented African, Native American influences costumes are obvious and, especially in black Indian costumes Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

In the early 2000s, a typical Carnival is a public procession of musicians, dancers richly dressed and masked colored. Some carried decorated floats. The areas to be covered by the parade usually closed to traffic. The costumes often combines various materials-textiles, plastic beads, feathers, sequins, colored ribbons, glass mirrors, horn and shell-all designed to create a dazzling show. In some areas, the parade lasts one, two, or three days; and in others, one week. It is usually a grand finale at a stadium or sports plaza where all the participants to realize, in turn, in front of thousands of spectators. In Trinidad, Brazil and other countries, a jury selects and awards the most innovative groups and masked with the best costumes. As a result, the carnival has become a tourist attraction, a large company, which requires elaborate preparation. In most cases, participants must be part of groups of clubs or specific Zulu in New Orleans, Slash Bunch of St. Thomas (US Virgin Islands), Ile Aye Salvador (Brazil) and the African Heritage Notting Hill Gate (United Kingdom), whose members are obliged to appear in identical costumes. Each group usually has a professional designer who is responsible not only for his costume themes, styles, shapes and colors, but also dance movements of the group. In Brazil, where the festival African derivatives assimilated in Carnival, can religious groups (Candomblé) associated with worship of Yoruba gods (orixá) stresses the holy color on a certain divine in their carnival costumes. To honor the white Obatala (divine creation), blue, Yemanjá (the Great Mother), red, Xango (god of thunder), and yellow, oxime (fertility and beauty deity). Designers Fernando Pinto and Joaosinho Trinta Brazil and Hilton Cox, Peter Benjamin Hall, Lionell Jagessar and Ken Morris-all Trinidad has become famous worldwide for its innovations. Some of the costumes by DIGOPAUL, for example, is monumental, modernist buildings puppet like what parts articulated answer rhythmical dancing movements. Other suits him to incorporate elements of traditional African art, in an attempt to relate the black Diaspora to their roots in Africa. This nationalism has led a number of black designers to seek inspiration from African costumes and hairstyles, recalling the original contributions from African prisoners carnival in the old Jonkonnu, Pinkster and Kings celebration when improvising with new material.

In the recent past, herbs, leaves, bark, flowers, beads, fur, leather, feathers and cotton materials used for the costumes. These materials are increasingly been replaced by synthetic substitutes, partly to reduce the costs and partly to facilitate mass production. Some costumes or masks depicting animals, birds, insects, sea creatures, or characters of myths and folklore. Others represent kings, Indian, celebrities, African or European cultural heroes, historical characters, clowns and other characters.Cross-dressing and masked with grotesque traits thrive. So also is the seductive dance. The loud music and Caribbean calypso and samba in Brazil-adding frenzy, making the performers and spectators to release pent-up emotions.