Elements of Trinidad & Tobago Carnival: Moko Jumbies


Moko Jumbie Trinidad Carnival 

There was a time in Trinidad and Tobago when one had to pay to see 'Miss Mary', usually a doll in a box. Most carnival characters collected coins during carnival time. The Moko Jumbie had the advantage of collecting money from people watching from balconies. European landowners brought these West African walkers, who were enslaved Africans, to the Caribbean. They kept their traditions, and to this day, the Moko Jumbie walks the streets during Carnival season. 

Today, there is much flair in the costumes worn by the Moko Jumbies. Some can be very flamboyant with elaborate costumes. These tall and colorful characters parade through the streets for carnival balancing without much effort on stilts that can be 10 to 15 feet in height, much to the delight of onlookers, both young and old. 

The Moko Jumbie remains an iconic character of Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival culture. These characters are steeped in African spirituality and parade the street high above normal beings, serving as protectors from evil. The Moko Jumbie takes talent to portray and will live on as an integral part of Trinidad and Tobago's carnival culture. 

Traditional Mas Characters - Moko Jumbie   
"The Moko Jumbie derives its name from West African tradition. The “Moko” is an Orisha (God) of Retribution. The term “Jumbie” was added post-slavery. The Moko Jumbie was regarded as a protector whose towering height made it easier to see evil before ordinary men.

As a masquerade, these characters make long strides balanced on stilts that can be from 10 to 15 feet in height. In the past, the Moko Jumbie was sometimes accompanied by a dwarf in similar costume but without stilts, to accentuate Moko's height. He danced all day through the streets, collecting money on a plate from the people crowded on the second-floor windows and balconies. Often the stilts are painted in stripes or decorated with coloured fabric. The Moko Jumbie is usually dressed in brightly coloured costume that consists of long pants or skirts and a simple shirt. The Moko Jumbie may also wear a hat".

Source: nctt.org

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