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

February 8, 2016


In the barrack yards of old, where enslaved persons attempted to recreate communal dwellings after Emancipation, there were many people trying to make a living and come to terms with their sudden release from the only life some of them had ever known with little to no compensation from their past owners. One thing they continued to deal with was white (bakra) men coming over in the dead of night to sleep with the women of the yard, and as a result many mulatto children (shabine pickney) were born. The baby doll mas reflects this. Characters dressed in baby doll dresses with knickers, carrying toy baby dolls of their own โ€” symbolising that she herself is but a child โ€” roam the streets accosting men who could be the father of their child. If you don’t want a public embarrassment, you will pay her a few dollars and she will be on her way to the next mark.

Baby doll mas is still used by Drama Education companies such as Idakeda Gp to deal with issues of teen pregnancy and youth sexuality in T&T.