The costume of Comus for 1909 was traditional. Originally posted to krewehistory.info.

comus 1909

Comus 1909

Artist’s watercolor for Comus in 1909. The theme that year for the parade and bal masque was, “Theme: flights of fancy.”

Notes from the Tulane Library collection:

Drawing on paper; 7.5 x 9 inches; Comus costume design, Carnival Collection, Manuscripts Collection 900, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Mystick Krewe of Comus

The Mystick Krewe of Comus (MKC) organized in 1856. They paraded for the first time in 1857. Unlike other Carnival krewes, Comus does not parade a king. Comus is a demi-god. He is “Comus,” not “King Comus,” or “King of Comus.” While turn of the century costume designs featured Comus wearing a crown, this evolved over time. Comus now sports a cap with feather plumes, decorated in rhinestones and fur.

Secrecy

MKC operates as a “secret society.” They maintain closed membership roles. All members of the krewe wear masks, for parades (when they took to the streets) and for the balls. This includes Comus himself. Additionally, other krewes follow Comus in this regard. The Knights of Momus also closely guard the identity of Momus annually. Therefore, Comus, Momus, and a few other organizations present their monarch wearing a full-face mask.

Consequences of secrecy

Comus and its affiliations with luncheon clubs such as the Boston and Pickwick Clubs, became problematic for the City of New Orleans in the 1990s. From Wikipedia:

In 1991, the New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance that required social organizations to certify publicly that they did not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, disability, or sexual orientation, in order to obtain parade permits and other public licensure.[1][2] The Comus organization (along with Momus and Proteus, other 19th-century Krewes) withdrew from parading rather than racially integrating.

While Proteus returned to the streets in 2001, Comus and Momus only hold balls, in private hotels.

Modern Comus

comus 1909

Comus continues their role as the senior Carnival organization in New Orleans. They hold their bal masque annually. Towards the end of the evening, Comus invites Rex, the King of Carnival, to join him at the Comus ball. This photo shows the four Carnival monarchs (Rex in gold, Comus in silver) in 2018. Comus wears a full mask to protect his identity.

 

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