The Jumbies' Playing Ground
Old World Influences on Afro-Creole Masquerades in the Eastern Caribbean

By Robert Wyndham Nicholls
Foreword By John Nunley

304 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 30 b&w photographs (approx.), 65 color photographs (approx.), 3 maps, foreword, appendices, bibliography, index

978-1-61703-611-8 Printed casebinding $55.00S

978-1-4968-0247-7 Paper $30.00S

Printed casebinding, $55.00

Paper, $30.00

A study of the carnival traditions that created "whole theater" folk pageants

During the masquerades common during carnival time, jumbies (ghosts or ancestral spirits) are set free to roam the streets of Caribbean nations, turning the world topsy-turvy. Modern carnivals, which evolved from earlier ritual celebrations featuring disguised performers, are important cultural and economic events throughout the Caribbean and are a direct link to a multilayered history. This work explores the evolutionary connections in function, garb, and behavior between Afro-Creole masquerades and precursors from West Africa, the British Isles, and Western Europe. Robert Wyndham Nicholls utilizes a concept of play derived from Africa to describe a range of lighthearted and ritualistic activities. Along with Old World seeds, he studies the evolution of Afro-Creole prototypes that emerged in the Eastern Caribbean--bush masquerades, stilt dancers, animal disguises, she-males, female masquerades, and carnival clowns. Masquerades enact social, political, and spiritual roles within recurring festivals, initiations, wakes, skimmingtons, and weddings. The author explores performance in terms of abstraction in costume-disguise and the aesthetics of music, songs, drum rhythms, dance, and licentiousness. He reveals masquerades as transformative agent, ancestral endorser, behavior manager, informal educator, and luck conferrer. Robert Wyndham Nicholls, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, is a professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences of the University of the Virgin Islands. He is the author of numerous articles in journals such as African Arts, the Black Perspective in Music, Dance, Folklore, Folklore Forum, and International Journal of African Dance.

304 pages (approx.), 6 x 9 inches, 30 b&w photographs (approx.), 65 color photographs (approx.), 3 maps, foreword, appendices, bibliography, index