The Dying Swan

Trinidadian carnival artist Peter Minshall returned this year in full force with his Carnival King, The Dying Swan – Ras Nijinsky in drag as Pavlova, a sublime Moko Jumbie ballerina brought to life by Jha-whan Thomas. Its beauty lies in the simplicity of the costume and the delicacy of the movement which accompanies a steel pan rendition of Camille Saint-Saens’s ‘The Swan’.

Peter Minshall, the dying swan, carnival, Trinidad and Tobago

From Getty Images


Dance Hall

Dance Hall Scene. Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson. c. 1913-14

Dance Hall Scene. Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson. c. 1913-14


Blue Devil

Paramin. Peter Doig. 2004.

Paramin. Peter Doig. 2004.


The Midnight Robber

Peter Minshall. The Midnight Robber, the king of Danse Macabre (1980)

Peter Minshall. The Midnight Robber, the king of Danse Macabre (1980)

A Carnival costume by the legendary Trinidadian Carnival artist Peter Minshall, also known as Mas Man.

Click here to read about him in the Caribbean Beat magazine.


Carnaval!

Two weekends ago was the Calçotada Festival in Valls, last weekend was Cós Blanc in Salou, and this weekend was Carnaval in Tarragona! This is what I love about living in Spain, there is never a dull moment.

Carnival in Tarragona lasts one week, though the most important days are the Saturday and Tuesday. Saturday is the day of the main procession of floats and revelers, accompanied by music and hundreds of spectators watching in their own elaborate costumes. The costumes can be anything from Superman to chickens to mustard sachets and everything in between, but whatever it is, people take it very seriously (kids and adults alike!). The costumes in the band are also elaborate, but closer to the flamboyant carnival of Rio (glitter, beads, and feathers abound).

Tuesday is the day of the big finale, known as El Entierro de la Sardina (the burial of the sardine), or El Entierro de Carnestoltes (the burial of Carnestoltes), which is a ritualistic cremation of Carnestoltes, the King of Carnival. Carnestoltes represents carnival, and his cremation symbolises the end of the carnival season and the start of Lent.

The night starts with a solemn procession of folkloric characters and drummers who carry Carnestoltes along the Rambla Nova and up to the main square, Plaça de la Font. Men and women dressed in funeral clothes follow Carnestoltes, weeping and mourning the end of the carnival season. Once at the Plaça, a “notary” reads the last will and testament of Carnestoltes, a satirical poem which references and mocks events of the last year. Then the figure of Carnestoltes is carried to a pyre, covered in gasoline and lit on fire. Simultaneously starts the Ball de Diables, a Catalan tradition where men dressed as devils dance in a circle holding giant spinning sparklers. The effect is exciting and chaotic. If you enjoy this, make sure to come back in September for the biggest festival of Tarragona: Santa Tecla!

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Saturday parade

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Reading of the last will and testament

Cremation of Carnestoltes

Cremation of Carnestoltes

Ball de Diables

Ball de Diables

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