Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Friday, 28 November 2014

Rag Weeks and Carnivals


The earliest pictures in my album of a carnival or float are actually of my Great Aunt Maude in 1909. It’s a wonderful image but as it has already featured in my blogposts twice I’m moving further forward in time to Lincoln, England in 1971. It was the college ‘Rag Week', as far as I remember, and these were my hurried snaps of a couple of the floats. I’m afraid my memory of the event is as hazy as the images. They’re very much of their time with students dressing up as all kinds of characters and it’s difficult to see what the theme of the floats is. I’m sure we all had a lot of fun. According to the Oxford English Dictionary the origin of  “ ‘Rag' is from the act of ‘ragging’; especially an extensive display of noisy, disorderly conduct, carried on in defiance of authority and discipline.”


Further forward in time to 2001 and we’re on holiday in Cyprus during Mardi Gras festivities. The floats were somewhat more professional than the attempts of the 1971 students and it was an unexpected treat during our week’s break in the sun.


Finally, more recent images of the carnival parades here in Lanzarote over recent years. Carnival in the Canary Islands is a big event and the television channels carry coverage from all the islands over a number of weeks. Here in Lanzarote all the towns have their parade on designated days and sometimes it seems to be going on forever. Our favourite float was the magnificent steampunk design which won first prize in the parade in Arrecife, the capital, where the huge carnival parade culminates in the ceremony of The Burial of The Sardine. Here’s a post which describes some of the possible reasons for this weird celebration. Even Goya depicted it somewhere between 1812-1819.


Goya scholar Fred Licht writes about it in the Wikipedia entry  and states:

We have arrived here at the perfect balancing point between the early tapestry cartoons and the later Black Paintings.All the riotous gaiety of the former appeals to the eye from the surface of the painting. But in the darkening of the colors, in the masklike ambiguity of the faces... and especially in the overwrought gestures and expressions, one begins to feel the obscurely disturbing undertones of mass hysteria underlying the fiesta.”  

So not much has changed then; lots of gaiety, overwrought gestures and expressions and plenty of hysteria in today’s carnivals too. 

Join the parade over at Sepia Saturday where this week’s 1930 image prompted the above post.


13 comments:

  1. What did the Bard say? All the world's a stage....

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  2. A perfect medley for the theme. The parade as spectacle is such an ancient tradition, but I wonder if it will continue into this increasingly virtual digital age.

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  3. Fun parade photos! I think the whole concept of a parade is an extravaganza, and involves people dressing up and letting their hair down, as well as some fancy floats.

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  4. Your definition of "ragging" sounds more like what we would call "rioting."

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  5. More new to me, Rag Week, wonder if that is the source of the term "glad rags" meaning dress up....so many parades to learn about,,,

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  6. I always learn something new on Sepia Saturday! Rag Week was something I had never heard of. Loved the Steampunk float photo but I love anything Steampunk!

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  7. Thanks for introducing me to Rag Week...and defining it for my first impression was that it had to do with tatters being worn, rather than a behavior!

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  8. I remember rag days in Edinburgh and at one stage I did have photos, but must have put them out - if I had only known about the future and blogging!

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  9. I have a photo somewhere of my participation in the last University of Zimbabwe Rag Week procession ever. After that one, it was banned - I'll leave the rest to your imagination!

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  10. That steampunk float is great. Someone had a marvelous imagination!

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  11. I'm glad that the sardines are getting a decent burial. The painting is quite scary indeed.

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  12. I think Licht describes the painting very delicately. Words like lewd and debauched came into my mind.. But The Burial of the Sardine ! I ask you !

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  13. Carnival time depicted in art is often dark and foreboding. In person carnivals are usually bright and cheerful, more like your parade pictures.

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