The "babau" is an important animal in the grotesque mythology. The first appearance dates 1882, year of the creation of the float of Her Majesty Carnival. It is about a monster, sort of dragon, fire-eater often (red or green, under the circumstances) which is a part of the suite of the procession of Her Majesty Carnival.
In Castellana's dictionary French - Niçois, one finds the term of: Babau or Baboù who would come from the onomatopoeia " Slob, slobber ".
Hideous animal, or monstrous, croquemitaine, ogre, scarecrow, which frightens the children and which one finds in the legends of the country of Nice or Provence and which one can move closer also to the legend of the Werewolf, which appears for the period of the Advent.
Quite as Drac and Durance, Tarasque and the Rhone, we can establish a relation between "Babau" and Paillon?
Our Babaou could, maybe go down from the Paillon of Coaraze (Cauda raze), the village which " shaved the tail of the Devil! Disguised as Lizard (Dragon), either of Tales, which he caught the tail with some birdlime.
- It is especially officialized in the Carnival, in 1893, year of the marriage of Her Majesty Carnival, but also, marks the inauguration of the coverage of Paillon on the garden Albert 1-st, and of the place Masséna, - so the Babaou which has no more a "bare" access towards the sea, goes out during the grotesque period and would show so " its frustration ", to the big pleasure shivering with children. - it is represented on a float to fire, formed by 4 capons " surprised in Paillon ", (The Small Inhabitant of Nice) and who surround a device spitting flames.
Cousin of the Tarasque, it is also bestridden as frame by Her Majesty Carnival, in 1884, in 1913, more recently in 1956.
But it is especially gigantic Babaou of 1905, conceived and realized by larnach, other big designer of the Carnival who remains registered in annals, big floats of the grotesque parade.
34 metres in length, it was risen on wheels and pushed by eighteen men a whole orchestra was held in its opened mouth.
Babaou is another privileged source of inspiration for carnavaliers, it seems at present much more often than the devil or the witch and was a notable part of the Procession of the Hundred years of H.M. Carnival in 1984.
In the grotesque universe of Nice, the world of the fantastic and the devilish holds a place of choice according to periods - with floats which join in the field of the terrifying, of " the disturbing strangeness. This thing of the terrible which is connected with the known things for a long time and of any time familiar ". (S Freud)
Sometimes without knowing it, the carnavalier joins in the inheritance of the popular mythology and it throws through its art, the certainties and the fears of its time, the fantasies and the dreams of its man's life. By the distorting mirror of grotesque and Victor Hugo said:
" The grotesque is the richest source which the nature can offer to the art " - the carnavalier adds to sound work a force, a human dimension which joins this eternal interrogation of the Man towards the world of the mysterious, magic or devilish beings, the Other World ", according to the Celts, that of the Darkness or the Magic Supernatural.