"Wading neck deep in a swamp, your revolver is neither use nor ornament until you have had time to clean it" Mary H. Kingsley (1897)

Carnival Artistes

As soon as cool, early evening breezes had gently refreshed our New Year’s Day,
Fort Cochin burst into carnival mood.

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Almost all the “female” artistes on parade are local boys en travesti:
a comedic tradition even more widespread here than in Britain – which is quite an achievement!

The lady drummers were, however, the real thing


Pictures taken at the Fort Cochin New Year’s Day Carnival Parade.

4 responses

  1. Toffeeapple

    May I praise you for using the word ‘artistes’? So refreshing to see the word. I was surprised by the female drummers, wrongly supposing that only men played instruments in public. Isn’t the carnival a colourful affair? I am not startled by the young men portraying women, I somehow knew about that.

    January 2, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    • I have hastily Googled “artistes”. Suddenly, I felt almost nervous! Is my present-day use of the term so unconventional?
      I don’t find men portraying women at all startling. It has such a long tradition in both European and Asian performing arts. But I do find it odd that, in Kerala, the comic portrayal of women always seems to be enacted by men…
      Performing instrumental musicians, and even Kathakali dancers, are now recruiting girls to learn their skills. Perhaps this is somewhat overdue in a state which was traditionally matriarchal.

      January 2, 2012 at 8:28 pm

  2. Toffeeapple

    Your use of the word was in perfect context, it now happens that artistes are referred to as artists – a different kettle of fish altogether in my vocabulary.

    Thank you for the link to the Kathakali dancers, they look fierce! Surprising that females are being recruited.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    • I tend to use “artists” for those who practice “fine art”, and artistes for those in the performing arts – but such usage may well be eccentric!
      Life is full of surprises. I read the other day that Kerala women are now being recruited to climb and harvest coconut palms!

      January 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm

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