Folklore

Pierrot Grenade, supreme scholar/jester dressed in a long colourful gown, is known for his elegant costume with coloured head tie or hat. 

This character was once known for its fighting skills, but after being arrested on several occasions for fighting, the modern day Pierrot Grenade uses his oratory skills for storytelling.

Limbo is unofficially considered the national dance of Trinidad and Tobago.   Originally performed at wakes and funerals, the dance symbolises the cycle of life.  Whoever can pass under the lowest bar (pole) without touching the pole or the floor is considered the winner.  Coming out victorious on the other side of the pole symbolises triumph over death.  With its origins in the 1800’s, this dance is now a major part of the tourism package throughout the Caribbean. 

Kalinda (Kalenda) was known to be a dance to the drum and shack-shack in the plantations during colonial times.  In Trinidad, it is not significant as a dance, but has become associated with a form of stick-fighting.  The rhythm of the old Calendas have been taken over for stick fighting and carries the same name Kalenda (Dictionary of the English/Creole of Trinidad & Tobago. Lise Winer).  Stick fighting was also part of the celebrations of emancipation from slavery. Bands of stickmen wearing coloured shirts and  ‘fulas’ (from the French “foulard”) to protect their heads, would take to the streets on carnival Monday and fight rival bands with ‘bwas’ (from the French bois).

The dance we now know as the bélé, known to the French then as the Bel Air, was performed by women during social events in the planters' great houses.  The slaves who worked in or around these houses quickly copied the style and dress, and later added the African Congo influence to reflect strong Congo overtones. The bélé strongly reflects influences from African fertility dances. The term bélé also refers to a kind of drum found on Dominica, Martinique and St Lucia.  The rhythmic quality of the bélé drums add spicy and yet subtle sensuality to the movements. There are more than 14 types of bélé dances including the Grand bélé and Congo bélé, with each performed to its own rhythms and chants.

Tobago Jig is a traditional dance form with European and African influences. It is performed in Tobago and is reminiscent of an intricate courtship dance. Although British in origin, its movements were influenced by the Africans. Tambrin (from tambourine) is quintessential Tobago music. It is driven by three shallow goatskin tambrin drums: the cutter (high pitch), roller (rhythm) and boom (bass). The drums provide an African basis for the lead instrument, the fiddle, and the added percussion of a steel triangle.

A moko jumbie (also known as “moko jumbi” or “mocko jumbie”) is a stilt walker or dancer.  The origin of the term may come from “Moko” (a possible reference to an African god) and “jumbi”, a West Indian term for a ghost or spirit that may have been derived from the Kongo language word zumbi.  The Moko Jumbies are thought to originate from West African tradition brought to the Caribbean but now appear in many celebrations throughout the world.  
Sailor Mas or Fancy Sailor as it is often referred, was a character in the 1880’s when American, French and Naval ships came to Trinidad.  Different colour costumes depict different groups.  For example, the Fancy Sailor costume is made of white drill or corduroy and decorated with sequins etc, or the King Sailor would sport epaulettes, as well as a red sash across his chest, and a crown on his head.  There are at least ten types of Sailor Mas, and at least 7 accompanying dances.