In official correspondence, carnival word appears in April 1722. As the celebrations do not cause surprise, they are not new administrators then criticize wealthy white groups citing two practices: the sumptuousness of some meals, especially a "appalling game."

In the same medium at the beginning of the second half of the century, adding balls. Meanwhile, other groups must have their structures, lasting or ephemeral, because construct, reconstruct, preserve links that exceed the family is the basis of the movement that encourages to meet, drink, eat, organize festivities networks or self-help based on the perception that one has of his social level, membership in a neighborhood, a house, a job, an ethnic group.


In the state of slavery, health, marriage, motherhood, childhood, old age, disability, death being the master of the load, the masses are concerned about religious and festive aspects. Articles 16 and 17 of the edict of March 1685 forbid slaves belonging to different masters to be outraged by day or night, under the pretext of marriage or otherwise, from their masters or the highways or places apart. Episodically, the repeal of the law or the interests of a witness provides invaluable information.


Ethnic groups


By the mid 17th century, in his General History of the Caribbean inhabited by the French, while he focuses only on Sundays and holidays, Father Du Tertre evokes slave meetings "of the same land, or those who are close to them "that eat together, sing the fashion of their country and dance to" two calabashes filled with small rocks ", ie the chachas or drum. Du Tertre not talking about calendas or belair but "one of them holding the instrument between his legs, and play it with his fingers (..) then when he played a verse of the song, those who dance in sing another, continuing alternately while it lasts. " These ethnic groups are also found in burials.


In 1850, two centuries later, in his historical studies and statistics Martinique, Dr. Rufz still evokes such groupings: "These peoples of Africa, transported on foreign shores, recognized themselves, rallied, re-formed the native tribe, and sought (..) to remember their songs and dances, the memories of the homeland. These kinds of associations still exist today and are entirely comparable to associations that workers Europeans form between them, to help each other in sickness and ensure their funerals. "

It is not only people born outside the island since the mid 20th century, during the carnival, specific groups still gather the grandchildren of immigrants from the second half of the 19th century.


The Gaoulet 1710


In July 1710, a settling of scores between whites causes the suppression of a servile association formed to St. Peter to "dance a certain dance they call Gaoulet, which is to drop, rise, bumping stomach ". This festive combination of illiterates of Anchorage and the surrounding countryside, is already characterized by its complexity. Mixture of ethnic groups: Africans find themselves embroiled in Creole. Participation subversive white and free of color, slaves belonging to twenty different masters. At their head, a general, as governor general, not a king. Contributions rites newcomer pays Ponche. Banquet: the women cook. Sign of recognition: a coral necklace. For sale: the inevitable "cord" or "condom" that can go without being punished when we left for runaways, and fight unharmed.


Church and carnival


Quimbois so, but the Church is always present. The carnival is between the Kings and Lent. Bread blessed, weddings, funerals, processions are opportunities to meet monitored meals, songs and in some cases dances. The association has its headquarters in 1710 for several months on home Ursuline. Consider also the cure "niggers" in urban areas and the brotherhoods. The first link with the danger of poisoning appear in Santo Domingo in 1758 on the occasion of the Macandal case. In small packets found suspected blessed incense and bread mixed with various objects. Funerals: feasts, "consisting mourning to dress in white for several days and to wear the bandana folded in half handkerchief ends meet during the back."

In 1752, Martinique and Guadeloupe, the festivities of Corpus Christi has a considerable scale. All affected parishes are not cited and the focus is on the rivalry between St. Pierre and Fort Anchorage "dressed in rich robes", slaves are the King, the Queen, the royal family . In a church, the King and Queen have been placed in chairs "Negroes had the honors" and, even more subversive, whites were "confused" mixed with them. For these reasons, the Brotherhood titled: Slavery of the Blessed Virgin is prohibited. Nevertheless, in 1774, it is still directed the slaves to attend the processions with their ordinary clothes and, in 1801, to Robert, a fraternity built an oratory marked Slave Support pray for us.


Convoys flower companies


On the eve of the 1784 Carnival, Martinique's order of December 25, 1783 recalls the ban on slaves belonging to different masters to assemble without permission from the public prosecutor. Free are equally concerned. With the Revolution, politics entered. Following the failure of the expedition organized by Victor Hugues against Martinique, the order of 30 October 1795 sheds much. Associated free "under specific denominations" are slaves to "convoys or funerals" ribbons and other distinctive marks in gold silver or other materials. In January 1797 he was made defense to anyone of whatever quality and condition that they are to appear in the streets masked and disguised during Carnival. In November 1809 a new ban evokes the masses, the blessed bread and extraordinary luxury in funeral processions.

On the eve of the 1830 carnival, while Martinique is troubled by the question of the reform of the slave society, a great debate, held at the Privy Council, reveals that the prohibitions have been for nothing. These associations' formerly known under the name of convoys "are 17 in number at Fort Royal, probably more, we are told, in Saint-Pierre. They also exist in the towns and countryside. We already knew the different colored ribbons. It has added names: Company of roses, carnations etc. Each association has its flag, ie its banner, its king, his queen, his treasurer ... They correspond to each other and recently, at the instigation of free people of color, who obviously have their associations, they are all gathered at Fort Royal on the occasion of a funeral.

In 1736, this kind of association exists at least in the island of Antigua. In the British colonies, the equivalent of the carnival is at the end of December.

In Jamaica, in 1774, describes the ethnic groups with their unique music, trade groups, plantations. After 1794, one sees the emigrants of Santo Domingo. These associations are distinguished by their colors: "gold", "Velvet", "Garnet." They have their John Canoe, their kings, queens, compete with their songs and dance of small skits often related to current events.

In St. Lucia, where Rose was opposed to Marguerite, August 30, the anniversary of St. Rose of Lima, is still celebrated with kings, queens, soldiers, pages, parades, dances, dinners and singing competition .


We do not know when the songs and skits related news appear in St. Peter, but in February 1831 on the occasion of the riots, a witness mentions "the songs they sang frantically in the streets and on public squares and in which they insulted M. de Freycinet, former governor and invited Mr Perinelle and Sanois, notable inhabitants carting water to extinguish the fire. " For his part, the governor wrote that the Sunday meetings, dances tolerated for "disturbing the peace and order by the songs" and has closed "courses in which these scenes were."


Fat Tuesday to Ash Wednesday


Under Napoleon 1st, the colonial prefect Laussat disdains not let accounting and politics to describe the carnival festivities.

White he frequents combine to give balls. Fort those who pride themselves nobility, do not commit with those of Anchorage. In a ball of that parish, the Shrove Tuesday, most women are "disguised as mulatto." Disguised as men are openly. The question is whether women simply wear masks. Here, since "three days" Saturday, Sunday, Monday, the "playful dancers," not "were lying at sunrise." On Wednesday morning, it leaves "resolved not to close the carnival as Mass ashes." This is already a use that does not shock. A third group of "a notch lower" subscribed to organize a disco, the first that we know the Terpsychore, named after the muse of dance.


This is certainly true for the free people of color. Laussat but seems not interested only slaves, called negroes, as it speaks "the river bamboula where the negroes are accustomed to say goodbye to the carnival," the afternoon of Ash Wednesday. In 1830, Europeans always write bamboulas. In 1840 Dessalles Belairs said.

"In use" indicates that this is not an innovation. The event does not take place in the city but at the edge of a river. Participants are numerous and constitute distinct groups: drum groups "dancing bamboulas" violins groups attested by "quadrilles" group of flute players. Beyond the divisions of social status, professions and neighborhood, for barrels, are also already connected with current, there has been consultation to obtain permission from the authorities and secure place, this time in heights of the river Fathers. And for there to be "nigger mobs" requires at least half a day or nonworking.

All: music, dance and food, give a true spectacle that attracts the white of the city and surrounding areas. Nothing is said of the costumes, but Laussat sees participants' feasting around covered sheets of large dishes and sauces black. " No meat or even fish. A meal of Lent. In addition, large dishes reminiscent of vegetables and other basic elements being potential cassava flour and rice, we probably have a black and white meal.

In the countryside, we especially repérons hints about the associations but do not forget the links between religious and festive. Our most abundant information is taken from Pierre Dessalles newspaper, resident of Sainte-Marie, only are enhanced internal solidarity residential and residential accommodation.

The owner opens his home to slaves, offers drinks, victuals and, if necessary, pay the piper. It may just observe. More often, he meets some friends over a meal. On Sunday, January 29, 1837, the festivities take place at the New City Dessalles: "My servants were dancing; I gave them a sheep and a few bottles of wine. Lalanne and Pierre Cardin dined with me. The Louis M. Ciceri Vassor and came to dance. At 9 o'clock dancing stopped, and 11 dinner ended. Hidden in a corner, I saw everything without being seen; nothing seemed more pleasant. After the meal, we sang, tone, voice inflections, all combined to excite laughter. I was forced to stand at four not to burst. I have observed that the greatest politeness existed (..) Many of Mr. Survilliée negroes were at that party. I had occasion to notice beautiful black women. "


Then come the day Gras. Saturday, Feb. 4, at Limbe Dessalles dines with the heirs Vassor and slaves dancing. Tuesday Gras, it leaves the afternoon at her studio and gives syrup and rum. He observes, firstly: that more dressed up, "dressed a straw man and have walked to the sound of horns," and the other, the dance ended at midnight.

In 1840, for the days Gras on Saturday and Sunday, the celebration still brings his studio and that of Survilliée. She resumes Monday night with other neighbors. Unmoved, Dessalles remark that "many people came to see free and even danced with the slaves." This year, besides the quadrilles, it evokes the Belairs and insists on the drum that on Shrove Tuesday, beating five o'clock in the afternoon at daybreak.

Between 1837 and 1840, there is certainly not an evolution. At least, we feel that the customs of the country in line with those of the city.