Watch the free, streaming film Dance for a Chicken : The Cajun Mardi Gras, free from FolkStreams.   It’s Mardi Gras time and this film will give you an excellent introduction to Mardi Gras as it is celebrated among the Cajuns in the country.  It runs almost an hour, 55:08.  Traditionally, Cajun Mardi Gras consists of a flock of costumed men on horseback, in various states of inebriation.  Held on Mardi Gras day, they ride from house to house asking for charity.  That means some food; all of which is taken at the end of the day to one site and used to cook a communal feast.  It might be a sack of rice, a bushel of yams, or, as we see here, a live chicken.  The sport is in having the riders chase the chicken around someone’s yard to catch it.  The whole thing is called a courir, or a run.  The costumes are often strips of rags, looking like fringe, and a conical hat, also covered with cloth strips.  The hat is called a capuchon.  And masks are traditionally screen wire formed over the face and covered with paint and accessories, like a big nose, lips and tongue.   Women are more involved in the courir these days.  And some are held before Mardi Gras Day,  such as Iota’s on the Saturday before.

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