12
Jul
06

Soca Warriors, Amerindian Masking

While Italy’s dubious “victory” over France in Sunday’s World Cup Final helped to immediately forestall any possible nostalgia for the end of what was otherwise an often exciting month of play, I have to confess that I will sorely miss seeing those beloved Soca Warrior fans singing and dancing in the stadiums of Germany.
I collected a number of images from various sources, each of which reinforces the theme that the Soca Warriors (I don’t mean just the team here, I mean the fans especially) conceived of themselves as Native Indian warriors, a theme that has run through the length of Trinidad’s Carnival, from the mid-1800s.
The Santa Rosa Carib Community, whose members ardently cheered the Soca Warriors, once had a research officer by the name of Elma Reyes who insisted that the Native Indian figure in Trinidad’s Carnival was not just some carbon copy of images imported from North America, but that there was also an indigenous Trinidadian-Venezuelan input behind the figures of Indians becoming and remaining prevalent in Trinidad’s Carnival. Her attempt to “reclaim” the Indian of Carnival finds some support in the following research article which even observes that many of these Indian costumes were worn by individuals who in cases were themselves Amerindians of the region:
“Amerindian Masking in Trinidad’s Carnival: The House of Black Elk in San Fernando”, by Helene Bellour and Samuel Kinser, in The Drama Review, Vol. 42, No. 3, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival (Autumn, 1998), pp. 147-169.
Others have in the past observed that the national colours of Trinidad and Tobago–red, black, and white–also mimic the natural body dyes and chalk used by Amerindians to paint their faces, as noted by a number of chroniclers in the Caribbean region. Some pottery styles also used red and black, or red and white, as decorative colours. Thus the appearance of individuals in the images that follow can seem more stunning to some of us than the reader might have expected.

For my part, as a tribute to both this theme, the team I long to see in action again, and the many wonderful fans, I offer this small collage (which can be enlarged by clicking on this link):

Until South Africa 2010!

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