Front Cover
 Table of Contents
 Back Cover

Title: Jamaica journal
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00090030/00029
 Material Information
Title: Jamaica journal
Series Title: Jamaica journal.
Abbreviated Title: Jam. j.
Physical Description: v. : ill. (part col.) ; 31 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Institute of Jamaica
Publisher: Institute of Jamaica.
Place of Publication: Kingston
Publication Date: 1976
Frequency: semiannual
Subject: Periodicals -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Jamaica
Dates or Sequential Designation: Began with Dec. 1967 issue.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00090030
Volume ID: VID00029
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 01797964
lccn - 75027862
issn - 0021-4124

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover
    Table of Contents
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
    Back Cover
        Page 10
Full Text


3~~:y \0


JAMAICA JOURNAL has broken through into a new area
of media, in order to produce at Carifesta time, an accurate
expression of some of the most strongly African music &
dance forms existing in Jamaica today. In the course of publi-
shing 'The Musical Instruments of Jamaica,' (Vol 9 Nos 2 and
3), one fully realized the futility of attempting to express
polyrhythmic and polytonal music on the classical stave,
which cannot accommodate either the complexity of rhythm or
the variation of tone; hence the record.

The supporting information in this issue relates largely to
the dance forms, which are in the African context, inseparable
from the music. Jamaican dance forms have as the most
striking predominant feature, a woman as a central figure-
a 'Queen', a 'Mother', a 'Shepherdess'. Research Continually
reveals an African root, and a Caribbean counterpart. It
would appear that the movement of slaves and their masters
to and fro within the Caribbean islands and the United
States, created certain common forms, all exhibiting an
African influence. The marked African processional form,
their impressive and varied manner of carrying drums, is to
be seen in many ceremonies and celebrations. The widest
common form may be the Jonkunnu (John Canoe) as seen in
Jamaica* Related forms are John Canoe in Belize and the
Bahamas, John Kuners in North Carolina U.S.A., Gombay in
Bermuda, Moco Jumbie in St. Vincent, Jumbies in Barbados,

Masquerade in Guyana, Ra-Ra in Haiti, The Festivities of
Twelfth Night in Cuba, Ole Mas and Perriot Grenade Process-
ions in Trinidad.

Researchers in the field see traditional forms in the modern
idiom influencing contemporary music such as Reggae,
(which means literally anything from 'roots'). Similarities
are seen to the Revivalist, Pukkumina (Pocomania), Mento
and Rent-a-Tile forms. Despite the rigid uptight sytle, dancers
nevertheless set up several different movements of the body
at the same time; which is characteristically African. A
parallel has also been drawn between modern dance movements
and the kotch and wheel-and-turn of the Brukins Party move-
ment. (The Afro-American Blues have also made a signifi-
cant contribution). Observers also see traditional influences in
contemporary Rastafarian music.

We have attempted in this production to give only a very
brief and general overview of Jamaican musical forms and
traditional dance. The African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica,
and the Jamaica School of Music, continue detailed research,
the results of which will be published from time to time.
This cautious, restrained, academic process, must of necessity
be a slow and patient exercise; at the same time, many Jamai-
cans feel a strong yearning to be re-united with their traditional

And genueflect and clutch the hands
And walk the bones of streets
And party with the sand
Communicant in Accompong.

The crowded motion smells the leaves
So much to understand
The long graves sang
Communicants with Accompong.

The canvas bleeds;
The green grass bends the breeze and ruffles long.
I dip the chalice in the dust
And sup with Accompong.

(Vilma Nicholson)


All selections on this record, except one, were collected by
Miss Olive Lewin, doing Folk Music research at the Jamaica
School of Music; and for whose initial guidance we are very
grateful. The cut before the final was collected by Miss
Marjorie Whylie, who now carries on the same work, and
whose assistance and advice has been invaluable.
JAMAICA JOURNAL also acknowledges the support
and encouragement of Mr. J.A. Carnegie, Miss Pamela


O'Gorman and Professor Ben Aning, (Chairman, Principal
and Visiting Ghanian Professor) of the Jamaica School of
Music. We are grateful to API-TV Roots for their co-
operation, and to Tape Specialists Ltd. for the competent
filtering of the field tapes to transmission quality.

Institute of Jamaica Researchers: Beverley Hall and Cheryl
Ryman of the African-Caribbean Institute of Jamaica.


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Jamaica JournaL

VOL. 10 NO. 1


Introduction ................................................................. Inside Front Cover

Peom Vilma Nicholson.......................... ............. ...


Record Side I

Band I Tambu.......................... .. ................................ 2

Band 2 Mento............................................. .......................... 2

Band 3 Maroon Drumming (2 parts).............................................. 3

Side II

Band 1 Cim balling.................................... ........ ................ 2

Band 2 Etu....................................................... ....................... 4

Band 3 Nago................................................ ......................... 2

Band 4 Kum ina (2 parts)................................................................ 6

Jamaican Folk & Traditional Dance -
D. Joyce Campbell.............................. ............. 8

Traditional Dance Lives on.............................................. ...................... 8

Cover Picture
'Brukins Party': by Tony Russell

The contents of the record
may not be reproduced in
whole or in part without the
permission of the Jamaica
School of Music.

Research done among neighboring
groups in Trelawny, indicate some histori-
cal linkage with the Kongo. Tambu
groups are also to be found in St. Thomas.

The Tambu drums have tuning pegs,
a drum construction not found anywhere
else in Jamaica. The French word for
drum is Tambour, which suggests that
this musical and dance form may have
come to us with a French overlay.
Observers have noted a similarity in
dance movements to the BelW of
Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Trinidad;
and also to the Virgin Islands Bamboula,
which until the last century could be
found in Louisiana, Martinique and

Tambu is performed mainly for enter-
tainment, with little religious overtones.
Some St. Thomas groups refer to drum-
ming alone as Tambu;making a distinc-
tion between that and Kumina, in which
dancing and singing are also employed.

This recording is from the Friendship
Group in Trelawny.

Tambu drum.
Photo Jamaica School of Music.

Nago is found only in a restricted area
of Westmoreland. It was brought to
public attention by Olive Lewin in her
study 'An Old Man Dies, A Book is
Lost' Jamaica Folkart (Institute of
Jamaica, 1969). This group identifies
with the Etu people as another "African"
group to which the term Nago is some-
times applied. Notably, they are the
only two groups known to use a kerosene
pan as a drum.
The music and dancing are used for a
set-up on the ninth night following a
death, and again on the fortieth night.


Mento is a social dance music form
that until recently held popular appeal in
much the same way as Reggae does today.
The dry grind or dub can be said to be a
carry-over of popular mento dance,
characterized by close body contact
between partners of opposite sex, and
slow swinging movements, primarily
through the hips.

The musical form like the dance has
been carried over into popular idiom,
and can be found in its original state
accompanying other traditional dances
like Quadrille and Maypole, with the
'basic' rhythm permeating many other
traditional music forms in Jamaica.

Jamaican Banjo
Photo Jamaica School of Music.

Mento bands are usually made up of a
Rhumba Box or Marimba Box (a Carib-
bean adaption of the African thumb
piano or Sansa), Banjoes, and Guitar.

Percussion instruments such as shakas
and graters may also be used. In this
recording we hear a Rhumba Box and
two banjoes. This is taken from the
Jamaica Festival Commission's Quadrille
Finals, and is by the Jericho Mento

It is one of the strongest examples of
the Yoruba Egbe in the New World.
Whereas the religious significance and
ritual have been lost; the language, the
melodic contour and the melodic rhythm,
have been retained in almost pure form.
Religious retentions are also found in
Bahia, Brazil, but there the music has
undergone a change.
This recording is by the Abeokuta
(otherwise known as Waterworks) Group,
in Westmoreland. The lyrics are:-
Ye ku kaya
Come we go man toto

Cimballing is part of the Revival
ritual. Musically, cimballing is vocal-
usually led by a person within the group
who 'has the spirit'. Rhythmically, the
voice cuts across the prevailing beat
that is being carried by the worshippers
in the form of trumping.


Revival Side Drum
Photo Jamaica School ofMusic.

The musical phrase is short, and is
repeated with variation and ornamenta-
tion, and may be doubled or harmonised
spontaneously by other worshippers.
There may be words involved which have
very little significance (nonsense words
used to carry the tune). Movement is a
forward dip with a front-foot stamp
(knee slightly bent); progress is always
in an anti-clockwise circle.
The difference between Zionism and
Pukkumina (Pocomania)-both of which
are usually subsumed under the term
Revivalism-are differences in organisa-
tion (e.g. members with certain roles
have different names, fall into the spirit
in slightly different fashion) Pocomania.
deals with earth-bound spirits; Zionism
repudiates this, dealing with angels and
heavenly spirits.*
This recording is from Kapo's group
in Denham Town.

*For detailed illustrated studies on these religious
forms, see JAMAICA JOURNAL Vol. 3. No. 2.
This issue is out of print; microprints are
available from the West Indian Reference
Library of the Institute of Jamaica, and from
Xerox Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

C 4

t i


Maroons use the Gumbay drum,
which is a flat single-headed one-sided
square drum, structurally resembling a
stool. Other traditional drums are also
shown. The famous Maroon Abengis made
from the horn of a cow. and blown from
a square hole in the side. Its African
counterpart is to be found in West
Africa, and in Ashanti, Ghana specifically
where the solo instrument is called
The Maroons are said to be a mixture
of Arawak, Spanish and African ethnic

groups. However, the Akan (Ghana)
influence, greatly felt throughout the
Jamaican Culture, is no less felt among
the Maroons. Linguistic evidence makes
the strongest case for this theory, with
many Maroons, until recently, bearing
Akan day names such as Cudjoe and
The Maroons were and still are noted
for their Myal or 'Medicine' men, who
employ music and dance regularly in
some Maroon communities. January 6th
marks an annual Maroon celebration

where much feasting and music-making
activities centered around ancestral rit-
uals, can be witnessed at Accompong.

There are three types of Maroon
songs: Old War Songs, New War Songs,
and Jawbone songs, of topical interest.
The second selection on the record is

This recording is from the Moore
Town Group in Portland.

*Illustrations and a detailed etymology indicat-
ing the African root names of Jamaican musical
instruments, is to be found in JAMAICA JOUR-
NALVol 9Nos. 2 & 3. Studies onMaroon history
and tradition are to be found in Vol 4 No 4, Vol
6No. 1, &Vol 8. Nos 2 & 3.

Etu, as identified by a group of approxi-
mately eighteen people, is to be found in
Hanover and surrounding regions. The
group claims Yoruba (Nigerian) ancestry.
Through the efforts of the Jamaica
Festival Commission some thirteen years
ago, this once dormant group was revived;
although much of the religious intent has
been lost, Etu plays (dance / music
sessions) are performed on the occasions
of funerals (nine night and forty night),
weddings, and dinner feasts. Okra stew,
coloured with annatto seeds,fufu (pound-
ed yam or breadfruit) and boiled cassava,
often accompany these ceremonies, and
are clearly of African origin.
A kerosene pan, providing the treble
tones, and a small single-headed drum,
are the only instruments accompanying
the dancers. The kerosene pan is played
with the hands, producing a quick
(6/8 time) compound duple rhythm-
the only surviving drumming pattern of
this type in Jamaica. The smaller drum
is used to play more intricate and spontan-
eous rhythms, but it is hardly audible
against the singing and kerosene pan
Each family or person executes his
or her own dance style, making it difficult
for the outsider to discern a common-
ality of dance style. Generally the male
dancers exhibit more strength and agility
than the women, who indulge in 'hippy'
teasing movements. The dance posture
is characteristically African, with bent
knees, body slightly forward to erect,
and flat-footed contact with the ground.
Frequently, alternating feet brush the
ground rapidly in response to the last
beat of the drum.
The Etu dance has become formalized,
being largely oriented for Festival Com-
petitions, where group dancing is evi-
denced, and for performances on request.
However, in the traditional environment,
short pieces of two to three minutes are
played for solo performance, in which the
close relationship between drummer and
dancer can be cited as another African
Shawling, a ritual of appreciation for
the dancer's movements, forms an inte-
gral part of each performance. The Queen
and/or another principal female member,
throws a scarf or scarves around the neck
of the dancer, who is then ceremoniously
'dipped back' from the waist, "to give
him strength", and finally the shawler
raises the dancer's arm in salutation and
congratulation. Sometimes, the shawl is
tied around the waist or hat, and is used
to 'crown' a particularly virtuoso perfor-
mance. Although only two people (dancer
and shawler) are normally found in the
dance area a third person may enthusias-
tically join the performance for a while
then sit. The group dances together,
marking the end of a given ceremony.

This recording is from the Kendal
Group in Hanover-lyrics are:
Yepe be
Yepe be e aru yepe b'e


Top A: Lead dancer dances
towards drummer.

Middle B: The shawl is
thrown around the dancer's

BottomC: Couple dancing



n c

C'\ I

Illustrations-African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica.


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Kumina is the most African of the cults
to be found in Jamaica, with negligible
European or Christian influence. Linguis-
tic evidence cites the Kongo as a specific
ethnic source for the 'language' and
possibly the music of Kumina. There are
varying theories as to whether it was
brought with late African arrivals after
Emancipation, or whether it was rooted
in Jamaica from the 18th. century, and
deepened by the later African influence.
The cult is to be found primarliy in
St. Thomas and Portland and to a lesser
extent in St. Mary, St. Catherine and
Kingston. Kumina ceremonies are usual-
ly associated with wakes, entombments

or memorial services, but can be perform-
ed for a whole range of human experi-
ences (births thanksgivings, invocations
for good and evil).
Kumina sessions involve singing, danc-
ing and drumming and are of two general
types: bailo the more public and less
sacred form of Kumina, at which time
songs are sung mainly in Jamaican dialect;
and country-the more African, and
serious form, and at which time possess-
ion usually occurs.
Male and female leaders must exhibit
great deal of strength in their control of
zombies or spirits and assume their

positions of leadership after careful
training in the feeding habits, ritual
procedures, dances, rhythms, and songs
of a variety of spirits, by a previous King
or 'Captain' and Queen, or 'Mother'.

One is said to 'catch 'Myal' when possess-
ed by one of the three classes of Gods-
sky, earthbound, and ancestral zombies,
these last being the most common form of
possession. Each god can be recognized
by the initiated by the particular dance
style exhibited by the possessed, and
by songs and drum rhythms to which it

Top: Kbandu, Playing Cast, Grater, Shakas & bottle of rum. Bottom: Heel is used to vary the tone of the drum.

Upper Left: Grater &Shakas; dancer at left shows characteristic straight back dancing position. Upper & Lower Right: Kumina Dance
movements. Lower Left: Catta stick's used to keep rhythm on back of drum. Photos Illustrations African Caribbean Institute of Jamaica.

These pictures were taken in St.
Thomas, and show the two kinds of
drums, the Kbandu (battery of drums),
larger and lower pitched, on which the
rhythm is played with emphasis on the
first and third beats; and the Playing
Cast or treble (lead) drum, on which
the most complicated and specific 'spirit'
basic rhythms are played. In the centre
is a bottle of rum used to annoint the
players and instruments, which is usually
done with an incantation before the
ceremony. The drummer of the Playing
Cast is afforded much respect within the
cult since he must be both knowledgeable
and competent in playing the variety of
rhythms which invoke, repel, and control
the many spirits or deities. The Queen
plays a similar role in her selection of
songs and often engages in call and
response (with the King/Captain) type
singing of both bailo and country songs.
Other instruments employed at dance
music sessions include Scrapers (which
can be an ordinary grater), Shakas,
gourd or tin can rattles, and Catta

Sticks which keep up a steady rhythm on
the back of the drum or on the centre
pole of the dancing booth. The drummer
sits on the body of the drum while a
player behind uses the Catta Sticks
(c.f. expression 'Catta Ticks). Hand
clapping often accompanies the 'Catta
Ticks.' The group heard in the first
selection, who consider themselves the
most authentic, also use a gourd which
they blow across and a bamboo stamping
At Bailo dances, the spirits who are
called, more often than not make their
presence known by 'mounting' (i.e.
possessing) a dancer; whose given dance
style helps in identifying the spirit, but
can span all possibilities of movement.
The basic dance posture constitutes an
almost erect back and propelling actions
of the hips as the feet inch along the
ground. The dancers move in a circular
pattern around the musicians and centre
pole, either singly or with a partner.
The arms, shoulders, rib cage, and hips
are employed, offering the dancers ample

opportunity for variations and interpreta-
tion of the counter-beats or poly-rhythms.
Spins, dips, and 'breaks' on the last beat
are common dance variations.
The journey of the spirits from the
ethereal to the mundane world is no less
ritualised than other Kumina elements.
Once invoked by music and other ritual
paraphernalia (rum with blood, candles,
leaves) the spirits are said to hover near
the dancing booth. If successfully enticed
they travel down the centre pole into the
ground, then through the open end of the
drum to the head of the drum, where the
drummer and Queen must salute its
presence. The spirit then re-enters the
ground, from where it willtravel up the feet
of the person selected to be possessed,
along the whole length of the body,
culminating with full Myal possession in
the head of the individual.
This recording is in two parts, from
May River in St. Mary, and Tivoli in

I _q%__ %A-

V &

Jamaican Folk


Traditional Dances
By Joyce Campbell

My job as Dance Co-ordinator with the Jamaica Festival
Commission does not afford me the time for research into the
origins or significance of these dances; however, working with
these groups over the years in Festival, I have been able to make
certain observations from their performances, and have had
the opportunity for talks with members of these groups.

Most of our folk dances are related in some way to religion
or the feasts and festivities connected with religion. The
majority of these dances are of African origin, although
influences of Spanish and British culture are reflected to some
degree. Today these dances are performed chiefly in areas
where people's lives have not been affected by modern industry
or sophistication and in the areas where they still exist, the
actual origin and wider meaning of these dances have been
lost; but a look at films of African dancing will be very remi-
niscent of the way our folk people move when they dance.
Note the women from Hanover as they dance the "Etu."

These dances include the Kumina, Gumbay, Revival,
Pocomania, May Pole, Ring Game, Etu, Tambu, Bruckin'
Party, Quadrille etc. The importation of slaves from Africa
brought dances imbedded in the ritual of worship and seem
to be taken from elaborate ceremonial rituals celebrating
births, deaths, wedding feasts etc., while others seem to be
more festive in nature, or danced purely for communal
entertainment and are more social in their orientation.
Drumming, which is the central part of African belief and
religion, forms the main accompaniment to these dances and
is inter-related with these steps or movements. Drums are
played using the hands, feet/heel and sticks, either sitting on
them as in the Kumina, or strung over the shoulder-
John Canoe. Kerosene tins held between the knees and struck
with the hands are also used, as in the "Etu" dances. The
seasoning of the drums is also a very important part of these
Ritual dances. The rhythms of the drums vary, but many of
the African rhythms seem to have survived and remain
unchanged. Songs, with words, some of which are of African
origin (e.g. "otti" meaning rum-"fufu"-food cooked
without salt to feed the spirits-"Kete Kete" a donkey etc.)
are included and tend to be repetitious, but there are also new
Most of these dances have a basic similarity in their move-
ments which are repetitious in order for the dancers to become
possessed. (The Myal, Kumina). Some of these dances are
peculiar to certain parishes e.g. "Gumbay" found only in
St. Elizabeth- "Bruckin' Party" from Portland-and St Mary
"Etu" from Hanover-"Kumina" from St. Thomas. (also
seen in St. Mary). John Canoe, Quadrille, Ring Game,
Pocomania, Revival are found in most parishes.

This traditional dance was performed mainly to celebrate
the Anniversary of Emancipation on the 1st August. Today

the Bruckin' Party dance does not celebrate this anniversary
but will be danced on any occasion as planned and has no
connection with any feast, or celebration as noted with the
"Kumina", "Etu" and other ritual dances. The origin is
African and seems .to be taken from a more elaborate
ritual.)See Belisario's paintings of the John Canoe which shows
the set dancers, Blues and Reds,.

Bruckin' Party is a set dance-Blues and Reds performed in
a sort of contest with each set trying to out-dance the other.
Talks reveal that in the past the costumes were more colourful
and were usually kept a secret until the dance was to be
performed. A Bruckin' Party would start at night in one yard,
then they would march on the streets to another yard where
the Bruckins would end at daylight. The dancers represent
Kings, Queens, Princes, Captains, Soldiers, Trainbearers etc.
in each set, complete with swords and crowns for the Kings.
The men dance with sticks described as "razzling the swords".

In one section the women will dance alone-two Queens
(Red and Blue) each holding a glass of water in her hand,
showing off the dexterity of their steps without spilling any of
the water. (A similar dance is also found in the Kumina
ritual but glass carried on the head).

To rest the dancers, a section of the Bruckin' Party was called
"Show Bread" a sort of auction to choose a name for the
bread, as well as a name for the Queen. Speeches were
included, introduced by a Chairman, the words making no
sense, and said in a sort of sing song rhythm e.g.
"A is for Apple that hang on a tree
dulley, dulley, doan crevie a piano
that mean to say-who go softly go
safely-twinkle twinkle little stars", etc.

In between these little nonsense speeches, "razzling the
swords" takes place by running the sticks up and down the
poles of the bamboo shed (where Bruckin' Party is held) with
the sticks keeping a rhythm to the sing song of the nonsence
speeches mentioned above.

The musical accompaniment for Bruckin' Party is also drums
and songs. The drummers wear the drums hanging from the
shoulders, and sticks are used to beat them. The drums are
called "rattling drum" and "bass drum". Most of the songs are
all old time ones handed down, and words may refer to Queen
Victoria and Emancipation e.g.,
"August morning come again
This is the year of Jubilee
Queen Victoria set us free"

"Jubilee going round the city
Fall back me nah hold de lirht
Fe go sound back Jubilee."

Revival is a religion-discussions disclose that it is a
mixture of the Baptist religion, brought to Jamaica by the
Missionaries with remnants of some African religious rite or
festival. I am told it is called Revival because it is a living
religion. The groaning and stamping of the earth is to "Keep
the order of its spiritual setting", and the calling up of the
spirits. Dancers get in the spirit where they "become elevated
to holy angels"-become possessed and here again mention
is made of the "Myal". (Note reference to possession of "holy
angels" and not "ancestral spirits" as in the Kumina). It is
also said that the groaning relates to Jesus' groaning on the
cross. The sacrifice of a goat sometimes forms part of this
religious ritual. Drums, tambourines, accompanied by singing
form a part of the Revival.

John Canoe is another of our dances of African origin
although European influences can be observed, and seem to
have formed part of some elaborate Festival. From Belisario's
paintings we learn that the Set Girls at one time formed a
part of the John Canoe Band and Monk Lewis tells us about
the "Doctor Play" being also a part of the John Canoe.
(Kumina groups from St. Thomas also perform this "Doctor
Play" which they term "Play Shakespeare"). John Canoe
dancers may represent-devil, horse head, cow head, warrior,
Pitchy Patchy, Indian, Indian Chief-Indian Girl, Bride,
King and Queen, Mother Lundy, Policeman, Whore girl,
Sailor, Jack in the Green etc. The character "Actor-Boy" or
"Koo-Koo" in the Belisario painting who carries the house
on his head, I have not seen in any John Canoe group perform-
ing today. I have observed that John Canoe groups from the
North and West (Westmoreland, Hanover and St. Ann) wear
more splendid and colourful costumes, are dressed mostly in
pairs. There appears to be an East Indian influence in the
Westmoreland/Hanover area. Groups from the South or
East (St. Thomas-Portland) represent characters more of
the horse-head, cow-head, devil, whore girl, type etc., and is
sometimes referred to as a "Masquarade Group" instead of a
John Canoe". The "Doctor Play" can be observed among
the groups from the West where the dancers carry swords and
wrestle with them. John Canoe bands perform at Christmas
time and can be found all over the island dancing through the
streets during this Season

The rhythm of the John Canoe music is quite distinct from
other ritual folk music, with the fife, and drum played with
sticks being the main accompaniment for the dancers.

Kumina dance is of African origin brought to Jamaica by
the slaves. It is related to religion and the feasts or festivities
connected with the religion which formed part of some elabo-
rate ceremonial dance ritual expressing their belief in man's
relation to earth i.e. the fertility of earth and man, with
invocations to call upon their ancestral spirits. The belief
that the dead continue to play a part in the lives of others
still exists and the "Myal" where a dancer gets possessed is
looked upon with great reverence.

However most of the actual origin has been lost to these people
and it is only this belief that keeps the tradition alive.
Today the Kumina is danced at ceremonies surrounding
births, deaths, weddings or anniversaries which sometimes
can last from 2 to 3 days, starting on Friday at sundown and
ending on Sunday at sundown. It is a dance of endurance,
as are most ritual dances with repetitious movements; in order
for the dancers to become possessed, (Myal). The dancers
use their feet to inch along the ground and the dance move-
ments are strong and earthy particularly in what seems to be
the fertility ritual.
Drums play an integral part in this Ritual dance where the
rhythm is very important to the dance-sort of inter-related.
(Note highlights of breaks and turns in the dance). The
drummers sit on their drums, using their hands, feet/heel and
sticks or "Catta" to beat out the rhythms, (the maracas
and grater may also be included) while the dancers move
around them in a circle. Singing accompanies this dance,
where the words are also repetitious, including some of
African origin. Mention of the Maroons are in the words of
some of these songs, but they are also new songs, topical of
It is important that these dances should be kept alive as an
expression of our feelings and even aspirations to maintain a
sense of pride in our African heritage, despite the fact that
most of the significance of these dances have been lost.

The National Dance Theatre Company has played a tremen-
dous role in the presentation of these dances and they have
been the source of inspiration in the Festival's dance competi-

With school groups now performing Kumina, Kongo,
Bruckin' Party, John Canoe, Quadrille, Gumbay etc. a
wider awareness of our culture is being experienced as our
traditions live on.

TRADITIONAL DANCE LIVES ON: These pictures, taken live from JBC-TV's Ring Ding, show children from the manch-
ioneal AltAge School dancing Brukins Party. The students have been organised by their teacher and trained by a
drummer from a traditional group. Note the vigorous movements and the graceful stately dip almost like a
bessy-me-down in slow motion.

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