LSUE Mardi Gras Photos:
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Mardi Gras Archive: Final update of this page
completed in 2009.
For a detailed, scholarly account of the
Tee-Mamou Women's Courir, consult Carolyn Ware's
Cajun Women and Mardi Gras: Reading the Rules Backward (University of
Illinois Press, 2007).
The Tee-Mamou Women's Courir begins on Saturday morning
before Mardi Gras at the Fruge barn northwest of Iota, the same place the men's Mardi Gras
Courir begins on Tuesday. The women receive instructions from the male capitaine, and then
the truck pulling the Tee-Mamou Mardi Gras trailer heads onto the rural highway. The farms
and home that the crew will visit are widely dispersed, so the only way to cover the route
is by truck rather than on horse back.
||The route winds through narrow country roads and gravel lanes to
farms and rural houses, where the Mardi Gras disembark from the trailer and gather in
front of the homeowner's residence to sing the Tee-Mamou Mardi Gras song in French. Once
they are welcomed by the homeowner, they dance to the music provided by a band in another
trailer, grabbing family members and getting them to join in.
||Any object in the yard is also likely to become a prop in a prank.
Rolling tires around, commandeering a lawn mower, jumping on a trampoline--the Mardi Gras
run wild around the yard, while the co-capitaines get out their whips in a mock attempt to
restore order. If there's a tree on the property, at least one Mardi Gras is likely to
Of course, the real excitement comes if the homeowner has a chicken
to offer. Sometimes the chicken is thrown from a roof, sending the Mardi Gras on a frantic
scramble. Whoever catches the chicken turns it over to a cocapitaine, who deposits it in a
wire cage carried by a pick-up truck.
According to Cajun Mardi Gras Masks
by Carl Lindahl and Carolyn Ware, the Women's Courir began more than 20 years ago when
women whose families were active in the men's courir decided to begin their own run. The
book by Lindahl and Ware explains the mask-making techniques, which typically begin with a
wire or plastic frame. The needlepoint masks on a plastic frame are a unique Tee-Mamou
innovation. Many vivid color photographs of masks are included in the book.
The Tee-Mamou Mardi Gras are expert but polite
beggars. Upon receiving cinq sous from the photographer, the Mardi Gras replied
"Merci," and rejoined the others.
After the Tee-Mamou Women's Courir returns to the barn, the Mardi
Gras go home to prepare for a Mardi Gras dance that night.
Outsiders can follow the courir and watch as long as they stay out
of the way of the Mardi Gras. In 1998, up to a dozen cars rode behind the courir,
including photographers from overseas. The procession is led by Acadia Parish Sheriff's
The 1998 courir was dedicated to Gerald Frugé, who
served as capitaine of both the men's and women's courirs in Tee-Mamou for some two
decades. After an extended illness, Frugé passed away on Sunday, the day after the women's courir. His son, Todd
Frugé, is now capitaine.
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Gras Main Page
Updated March 2001