Travel and Treasures of the Silk Road

The Krewe of Proteus, founded in 1881, celebrates its 138th anniversary with this year’s parade. This is the oldest night-time parading krewe in New Orleans, offering you a glimpse into the fabled pageantry of the Golden Age of Carnival.

The Eleventh Captain of the Krewe of Proteus and his many-hued lieutenants escort this music-filled Mystic Krewe into another magical Lundi Gras night.

The wooden-wheeled wagons that carry this parade date back to the Nineteenth Century: the era of flambeau-illuminated spectacles drawn by mules through the cobblestone streets of New Orleans. These aged carriages make their mystic journey once more for your pleasure this evening, featuring the finely-crafted ‘tableaux roulants’ created by The Royal Artists.

Tonight, we will embark on a journey along the Silk Road. The story of these ancient trade routes spans over 1,500 years and 4,000 miles. We will begin at its western most point in the Mediterranean port of Venice, and end in the eastern city of Chang’an China. This exotic journey through many diverse cultures and landscapes will reveal many treasures. From the spice tinged air of Indonesia to the bustling bazaars of Bukhara, we offer up the site and sounds of these ancient cultural crossroads.


Proteus himself leads his glittering procession from his gold and pink shell, astride a cascading wave. The design, shell, and wave structure of this classic float originated in the 1930s.

2. Title: “Travel and Treasures of the Silk Road”

As Proteus emerges from the swirling waters, he is escorted by his colorful creatures of the sea. The Old-Man-of-the-Sea will lead us on a journey through time and halfway around the world, as we explore the Silk Road.

3. “1881: The Dawn of Proteus”

Based on the design of the King’s Car from the very first Proteus parade; this faithful reproduction of the wing-like fins reflect the colors of the rainbow. The glittering scales shed flashes like a million diamonds in the ever-changing illumination of this magnificent float.

4. Voyage of Marco Polo

Marco Polo, starting out in the mercantile city of Venice, set forth on a 5,000-mile journey along the Silk Road, ultimately leading to the Mongolian palace of Kublai Kahn. It was to this emperor that he became a trusted confidant for many years. After 24 years abroad, he finally returned home to Italy, with the riches and wisdom of the East.

5. Port of Alexandria

The lighthouse of Alexandria, Egypt, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, burns brightly as a guiding light for the sailors below. Ships from across the globe — from Europe, Asia, and Africa — lay at anchor to trade their goods and take a brief rest on her shores.

6. Byzantium

Emperor Constantine stands tall with the model of his Byzantine capital and his namesake, Constantinople. Emperor Justinian I displays the Hagia Sophia, shining jewel of this gold-drenched city, to symbolize his oversight in its creation.

7. Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra

The brave warrior queen, Zenobia, found a love of conquest under her husband, King Odainat. His victory over the Persians was preserved on the mosaic walls of their city of Palmyra: Persia depicted as a savage chimera, and the victorious king as the hero and monster slayer, Bellerophon. Following the death of her King, she bore the crown and brought most of the Eastern Roman Empire under her power, seizing most of Egypt before her ultimate defeat and capture.

8. Gardens of Niniveh

Behind the garden walls of the Safavid Empire, a lady and her court entertain a merchant with his fine selection of fabrics from far off lands. Meanwhile, the winged Lamassu stands as a symbol of protection over the city.

9. Desert Caravan

Through the harsh, wind-swept dunes, a party of Bedouin tribesmen can be seen cutting across the landscape. Their elaborate tasseled jewelry sways to the gait of their camels as they make their way through the vast desert sands.

10. Caravanserai

Caravanserai offer a welcomed rest after a long day's journey, for traders and camels alike. Tired bodies with full stomachs gather around the fire to share stories and songs from around the globe.

11. Mirage

The thirst for water can play tricks on desperate travelers, whose minds have become weak in the grasp of nature's cruelty. Lush palms and plentiful water appear to rise up from the desert, glittering in the white-hot sun. But, alas, it is all an empty illusion.

12. Restful Oasis

The most precious sight for our weary travelers after a long, desert trek: the cool, fresh water of an oasis. In contrast with the surrounding desolation, life thrives here. Trees grow strong, dripping with fruit, while animals raise their young in the shade of the lush palms

13. Bazaar in Bukhara

In the bazaar in Uzbekistan, food and treasures from around the world are piled high on display, warmed by the golden light of the midday sun. A vendor shows off his fine collection of Ikat fabrics, a specialty of the region.

14. Trans Himalayan Pass

Loaded down with salt and wool to trade down in the fertile valleys of the Ganges, traders make their way along narrow, hairpin passageways through the Tibetan plateau and the mountains of Nepal. Fields of Himalayan wild flowers flourish in the crisp mountain air, while ancient Buddhist temples can be seen off in the distance.

15. Rise of Genghis Kahn

The fiercest of armies emerges from the steppes of Mongolia with an insatiable hunger for power, treasure, and conquest. Ruthlessly, they burn and pillage everything in their wake as they thunder their way across Asia. Villagers too slow to escape are given an ultimatum: join the Mongol Horde or perish. Their brilliant and ruthless leader, Genghis Kahn, extends his vast empire across all of Asia.

16. Port of Kolkata

Enterprising men weave their boats through the lush maze of waterways to the riverine Port of Kolkata. From there, the bounty of India - animal skins, fabrics, semiprecious stones, ivory, and produce - will find its way out to sea and to points unknown.

17. Mogao Grottoes

Rising out of the vast wastelands of the Gobi Desert is the Mogao Grottoes of the Dunhuang Oasis; a respite not only for the body, but also the spirit. Hidden in the cliffs above the Dachuan River lies one of the marvels of the world: the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas. Throughout 492 caves and sanctuaries, the traveler is treated to a treasure trove of statues and wall paintings of the Buddha. Each room vibrates with color, every inch covered in 1,000 years of divinely inspired artistry.

18. Voyage to the Spice Islands

In the tropical isles of South East Asia, one can find a cargo more precious than gold: spice. Piles of turmeric, anise, cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, and peppers flavor the air as they are loaded into ships to be whisked along maritime routes to foreign merchants.

19. Treasure of Silk

The penultimate of luxury goods, the paving stone of Eurasian trade, and the backbone of an empire: silk. This bold, undualting dragon represents the silk tresure of China, as it transforms into colorful ribbons of the precious textile.

20. City of Chang'an

Situated at the end of a 3,000 mile central Asian passageway, the city of Chang'an was once one of the finest and more powerful metropolises in the world. People from far and wide flocked to its city walls, drawn to its enormous wealth and flourishing marketplaces. The court of the Tang Dynasty, the height of worldly sophistication, is entertained by dancer performing the traditional sleeve dance, accompanied by imperial musicians.

We now conclude our journey along the Silk Road and have seen its wondrous treasures. Proteus invites you to join him next year for another Mystic Lundi Gras pageant presented in the unique, traditional style of The Royal Artists.