Sunday, June 5, 2011

Carnival Arts-A Brief History

Drummers at the Zoetermeer Caribbean Carnival,...Image via WikipediaCaribbean Carnival Arts or 'Mas' making as it is called in this region is a tradition that has been around for  hundreds of years. This tradition can be traced back to Italy where members of the Catholic religion held a costume party prior to the Lent. In keeping with the traditions surrounding Lent the name Carnival came from "carnavale" which loosely translated meant “to put away the meat". As the carnival became more famous in Italy it quickly spread to other European countries.

Modern day Caribbean carnivals are based more on the African tradition where parading and moving in circles through villages in costumes and masks was the norm. The circling of villages was believed to bring good fortune, to heal problems, and chill out angry relatives who had passed into the next world. Carnival traditions also borrowed from the African tradition of putting together natural objects such as bones, grasses, beads, shells, and fabric to create a piece of sculpture, a mask, or costume — with each object or combination of objects representing a certain idea or spiritual force. 

African dance and music traditions transformed the early carnival celebrations in the Americas (including the Caribbean), where African drum rhythms, large puppets, stick fighters, and stilt dancers began to make their appearances in the carnival festivities. 

Carnival fused with the arts offers all of us a dynamic tool for self-expression and exploration, a tool to seek out our roots, a tool to develop new forms of looking at the world and its cultures, and finally, a tool to unite the world, to discover what we all have in common, and to celebrate what makes us different. 

The power and creativity that underlies these art forms has the possibility of transforming the way in which we interact with each other. Therefore join us on June 18, 2011 in Orleans, Ontario for the second annual Carivibe parade and start the transformation.

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