Thursday, February 26, 2009

Trini Mas*

Part 3 of a 3-part series on lesser-known, but no-less-hot, Carnival celebrations.

On the tiny Caribbean island of Trinidad, four-hundred years of recorded history under various European flags and immigration from the four corners of the globe have shaped and molded the look and feel of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival into one of the most distinctive and flavorful events in the English-speaking world. Like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, TnT Carnival stems from French colonization (though Spain held title over the place back then) and has incorporated elements from Africa, Europe, Venezuela, India, and North America; these elements, in turn, were exported throughout the West Indies and overseas, including London's famous Notting Hill Carnival.

Besides the obvious visual stimulation of a scrumdiddlyumptious backside winin' to some soca, TnT Carnival is an ocular feast of traditional costumed characters that make the Disney Main Street Parade look like an elementary school Christmas pageant. Observe:

The Fancy Indian (based on traditional Plains Indian dress from the modern-day US and Canada):

Photo by caribbeanfreephoto

The Moko Jumbie (derived from the Congolese tradition of village protectors who could see trouble before it arrived...basically, security guards):

Photo by Withthejameses

The Midnight Robber (inspired by the traditional African storyteller, the griot, who tells tall tales about his exploits, adventures, and prowess...lookin like a piyimp):

Photo by izatrini_com

Dame Lorraine (a playful version of a typical French aristocratic lady, with her big-booty self):

Photo by longdistancelady

Jabs (French patois for "diable" - devil - these firestarters come in various shades and manifestations - wings and sharp teeth and such; as you can see, they start young, the little hellions):

Photo by dexout

Cow Folk (based on, well, cows):

Photo by shawnking99

*The word "mas" is short for "masquerade" and is used to denote the various costumed bands of revelers during TnT Carnival.


Blackgirl On Mars said...

Ohhh, yet another Carnival has come and gone, and I wasn't there to enjoy it. Sigh. The best part of Carnival for me was Jouvert (ju-vey) and playing ole mas was the best! Buckets of mud, bottles of Vat 19 and some bottles to make some noise! Oh, Trinidad was an amazing place to grow up in. Thanks for this.

Fly Brother said...

No problem, BGOM...glad I could offer you a taste of home. I was hoping I could do justice to TnT Carnival; there's only but so much if it you can convey in writing and still photography.