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Masked for success at Rio Carnival

02-22-2012 10:01 BJT

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As carnival continues in Rio de Janeiro with people turning out for street parties in the thousands, the question becomes who can wear the most outrageous costume. For those who create the costumes and masks, it's harvest season. Helen Clegg reports from Rio.

In the hot summer sun people fill the streets of central Rio de Janeiro searching for fancy dress costumes to participate in the city's famous carnival. They sift through piles of coloured wigs, garlands and, a traditional favourite, masks, an essential carnival item.

CCTV's Helen Clegg said, "Far away from the bustle of downtown Rio de Janeiro it's in places like this, a factory in the small city of Sao Goncalo just outside Rio, that some of the magic and business of carnival begins."

CCTV's Helen Clegg

Condal factory has been producing masks since 1958, its founder Armando Valles, an artist from Barcelona started with clowns and then political figures. As well as politicians, Brazilian and others (img- dilma, obamas), Condal now does masks of footballers (ronaldinho), musicians (Michael Jackson) and just about anything else.

The business is now run by Armando's ex wife Olga who took it over when he died in 2007. Its sales have grown 15% in the last year in Brazil and pre-carnival is its busiest time.

Olga Gilbert, owner of Condal Mask Factory, said, "This year wasn't a year for politicians (political masks), it was more a year for King Kong, for animals, monsters, witches or clowns."

14 people work feverishly in the small factory during the build up to carnival, (an increase of 4 from year round) when production almost doubles to 2000 masks per day. Zelia Do Carmo has been working there for 40 years and benefited from the company's growth.

Zelia Do Carmo said, "When I started here it was a bit slower, every year that has passed it has got better and they have called more and more people to work here, every day that passes it gets better and better, my life has become 100 per cent better."

Condal factory has been producing masks since 1958, its founder Armando Valles, an
artist from Barcelona started with clowns and then political figures.

As well as selling masks to shops the business has grown through commissions by clients, especially by big groups wanting to wear them for carnival street parties. 25 year old Victor da Silva Nogueira is part of a new generation asking for masks based around characters they have seen on the internet.

Victor da Silva Nogueira said, "A friend that had a mask made here and always comes back said go there they have masks, because we looked all over the place for someone to do it, and we couldn't find anywhere, no-one could produce it. So he recommended this place, we came here, left the art here, they produced a mask, we approved it and it was a success."

For Olga, carnival still remains one of the most exciting and profitable, times of the year.

Olga Gilbert said, "People like to have fun with the masks and the designs that we make it's really gratifying."


Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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