Friday, May 14, 2010
Masks, Costumes and Candombe
For many, Montevideo's Carnaval celebration is its major draw.
In an effort to understand Uruguay's approach to Carnaval, we
visited the relatively new Museo del Carnaval in an old building
by the port of Montevideo:www.museodelcarnaval.org
I couldn't resist starting this post with my favorite photo
in the museum: The clown above sipping from his mate, the
gourd container from which so many Uruguayans sip yerba
mate. This youtube video gives a good look at the creation
of the museum with candombe, the Uruguayan drum-based
musical form in the background.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wSSdvlhaZg
The small museum gives a good sense of the complex influences
in Uruguayan celebration - classic Commedia dell'arte,
afro-inspired Candombe, and everything inbetween.
My favorite exhibit was in the costume hall - well
presented to show exactly how the pieces are worn or held.
I was intrigued by the above costume on the right where
the wearer's face is clearly visible and more ideas
stirred when I saw these creations:
Just outside that hall was this mask with a distinctly
Venetian flair. Look for the eye holes. Side view shows
how it is worn.
Occasionally as we traveled around the Montevideo
environs we heard the candombe beat, but never actually
saw any of the drumming in person. Every weekend groups
play in the streets, including one all female group of
drummers. Candombe originated among the Afro-Uruguayan
population and is based on African drumming. Some say now
it includes European influence and even touches of Tango.
Check out this youtube video of candombe on Calle Durazno: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXa4GijehK4
I'm hoping our next trip to Uruguay will be during Carnaval
season(a long one in Uruguay!) to see the masks and costumes
in actionand to hear more candombe.
Perhaps I'll be able to connect with some mask makers like
Jorge Añon whose mask I bought when there. More about Jorge
and his work next post!
Journey on. Wendy