Traditional Carnival Masquerade in Trinidad

These are photos from Carnival 2003 in Port of Spain, Trinidad. 

They demonstrate the active role that the traditional masquerade still holds in Trinidad's Carnival.  All images were taken by the author.

Fishermen in the Children's Carnival,

held Friday afternoon in Port of Spain.

Children's "Warahoon" Red Indian Band from the Friday afternoon Children's parade in Port of Spain

The Blue Devils of Paramin village, northwest of Port of Spain.



The Dame Lorraine

Another Dame Lorraine character with baby.  This is a traditional element of the character's performance, as she feeds the baby with a bottle and it wets itself.

A child bat on stage in the Savannah on Carnival Tuesday.

The bat performance involves the fluttering of wings, lowering to the ground in the style of a bat hovering above its prey.

The Wild Indian masquerade is clearly drawn from images of the Native Americans (primarily from films and books).  It is also related to the Wild Indian masquerade of New Orleans' Mardi Gras.  New Orleans’ carnival scholars have suggested a connection between Native Americans and runaway slaves.

During performance in the Savannah, the Wild Indians often recite an incantation on stage and end it with a yell, such as that shown.  Traditional Black Indian or Red Indian groups also have their own language, which might be a language mix of (some African language such as swahili) and Creole.

Women also participate in traditional masquerade, this one as a Wild Indian. This larger costume also demonstrates the influence of traditional masquerade characters upon the larger popularized Carnival bands.

The Midnight Robber is another traditional character.  The child on the left is in the more traditional costume, while the "Bush" is a contemporary interpretation.  The Midnight Robber must recite an eloquent rhymed speech that proclaims a certain injustice.  This band of characters paraded on the theme "The country that stole Marli Street". 


Page written and designed by Amelia Ingram, 2003.
All photography by author. All rights reserved.
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