ST GEORGE’S, Grenada –  Grenada has the distinction of hosting Spicemas, the last and arguably the best Carnival experience, carded for August 13th and 14th.Grenada’s signature festival is enriched by the costumes and masquerades that display the destination’s deep ties to its African, French and English

ShortKnee- Colourful Masquerader

The mask-wearing Shortknee is one of the most compelling icons of Spicemas and the masquerade pays homage to Grenada’s French and African heritage. The word “Shortknee” was coined back in the 1920s when creole (local language) was gaining popularity. Previously the masquerade was known by the French phrase “Grenade Pierrot” meaning clown. The word Shortknee is a clear reference to the trousers worn by the masqueraders that end just below the knee.

The trousers and bodice are made of yards of brightly coloured cloth and fastened to the legs and wrists. The front and back of the bodice are decorated with tiny mirrors, which culturally were thought to protect the wearer by “reflecting” his enemies. The Shortknee also wears a wire screen mask over a powder-whitened face. During Spicemas you can behold the spectacle of a Shortknee band, or better yet, join one.

Jab Jab- Uniquely Grenadian

Before emancipation, African slaves were not allowed to participate in Carnival, but this never stopped their own celebrations. One of their portrayals is the Jab Jab, in which masqueraders once covered themselves in molasses. These days they are covered in black oil. The masquerade was a representation of how the slaves saw their colonial masters complete with horns and chains.

Today, Jab Jab is more of a celebratory portrayal in which everyone can participate, even you. Since then Jab Jab has turned into a movement that has spawned a whole type of sound call the ‘Jab Jab’ riddim, which is prevalent during the festival.

Vieux Corp-Authentic Portrayal

Vieux Corps is a mas of disguise which dates as far back as the pre-emancipation era and is indigenous to Grenada.  Vieux Corps are French words which literally translate to “dead body” however the portrayal has more to do with the era of slavery. The masquerader’s identity is concealed by a mask made of wire mesh signifying the loss of identity endured by the slaves brought to Grenada from West Africa.

Traditionally, the gown of the costume was made of crocus bag material or black cotton fabric. More recently, costumes have become more colourful and creative.  Heavy clogs made from the wood of the mango tree are worn on the feet with band members stomping in a rhythmic fashion, to accompany their chants.