Visual Culture: Ten Traditional Mas Characters You’ll Find At Trinidad Carnival

February 8, 2016



Based on the dress of North American plains Indians, Fancy Indian costumes have grown increasingly elaborate over the years. The headpieces โ€” generally built onto a wire frame supported by the masqueraders’ body, and decked out with feathers, ostrich plumes and other decoration โ€” can be particularly magnificent.

Fancy Indians (as well as the lesser-seen Wild Indians and Warahoons) are known to speak in their own improvised language, known as “Red Indian,” memorizing call-and-response chants and dialogues only translatable and understood by other Indians. Aspects of Fancy Indian culture recall the Mardi Gras Indians of New Orleans. In any case, the Fancy Indian is one traditional Mas culture that is alive and well, bringing a distinctly Trini twist to this symbol of North American culture.