White Buffalo Practice Patch (early to mid- 1990s) New Orleans, Louisiana. Artist Unknown. Canvas, thread, beads. (10͟ x 11͟)

New Orleans’ Indian Gangs are among the most treasured and revered of cultural institutions associated with African-American vernacular carnival traditions. Donning brilliantly colored, hand-sewn and beaded costumes, the tribes take to the streets on Mardi-Gras day, Super Sunday, and St. Joseph’s Night as the culmination of a year’s worth of intense artistic labor. Young members just learning how to sew a suit might practice their beading on scraps of remaindered canvas like this. Alternately, folks who have masked Indian for many years and made many suits might still use patches like this one to try out new motifs and styles.

Leave a Reply