Pretty & Modern Mas
Jammette mas and the canboulay celebrations of freed slaves from the slums of Port-of-Spain in the post emancipation era horrified aristocratic classes and institutional bodies who regarded the festivities as base, vulgar and immoral.Planter classes retreated back into private celebrations. In the era that followed the Canboulay riots,\- failing to suppress celebrations- restrictions were put in place regarding the timing and manner of festivities and businesses began offering prizes and financial incentives to costumes and bands. The commodified element satisfactorily tamed celebrations enough for planter classes to re-join festivities, thus ushering in the era of pretty mas.
Modern pretty mas is now largely characterized by “Bikini and Beads” which has been the subject of much analysis but is an undeniable aspect of the average person’s carnival experience. It has proved to be ripe ground for creativity, beauty, commerce, and experiential innovation in the arena of the street parade. Entities like TRIBE CARNIVAL have redefined parading elements for masqueraders that are now much beloved and considered the industry standard.
Typical pretty mas elements such as feathered back pieces, head and leg pieces, and bejeweled bikinis have proved to be exportable and have mass appeal, resulting in several countries world wide participating in variations of Trinidad and Tobago carnival.
Some newer variations of pretty mas pioneered by bands such as THE LOST TRIBE incorporate modern mas elements while paying homage to golden era masquerade and traditional mas culture.