vi massive: moko jumbies

In planning a trip “home” to St. Thomas for this summer, I’ve been reminded of some of the things that make me miss it so. This print would look oh-so-nice on one of my bare walls. Moko Jumbies are stilt dancers that many of you have probably seen during Carnivals on-island and in the states. The tradition is believed to have started in West Africa, with Moko referencing a god and jumbie meaning ghost or spirit. The Moko watched over his village and guarded against intruders using his great height.

Moko initially arrived in Trinidad walking across the Atlantic from the West coast of Africa. The idea of the Moko survived by living in the hearts of African descendants during slavery and colonial life to eventually walk the streets of Trinidad in a celebration of freedom, during Carnival. Trinidad inhabitants added “Jumbie” to the name and by the early 1900’s, the figures were an integral part of their Carnival, protecting the revelers from evil.

During carnival, parades, and Jump Ups, the dancing, masked stilt walkers are interpretations of the spirits and superstitions of long ago.



Mocko Jumbie print at Etsy

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6 responses to “vi massive: moko jumbies

  1. Hey there! I read your blog all the time but this is my first comment. When I saw the jumbie on the page I was like “What!?” I’m from St. Thomas as well and will be going home this Summer (it’s been two years too long.) Small World indeed. You’re probably my cousin and shit.

  2. YAAAAY VI! 🙂 I just went to your blog, I will have to send you an email to chat. I was on St Thomas in the late nineties-early 00s, but somehow manage to get back once or twice a year. We even got married there…

  3. Please do anytime. I’m here in corn country Illinois now trying not to pull my face off in boredom, but things are getting better. Love your blog! I’ve really been slacking with mine.

  4. I am interested in joining a moko jumbie groupe for St. Thomas carnical 2011. Any information that could assist me in this would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • I think that you are a little bit late trying to join a troop now! However I think that if you are interested in doing so for 2012 now would be the time to make yourself known since carnival is in April!

  5. I am looking for information on Jumbies for a presentation for my Folklore class and I was just curious to know where you found your information as to the history of the Mocko Jumbies?

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