The West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA), organizer of the annual massive carnival parade on Brooklyn’s Eastern Parkway, on Saturday hosted a mas exhibition from its inception to present day at WIADCA’s new home at Major Owens Wellness Center, 1561 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn.
The exhibition was curated by WIADCA Board Member and Mas Committee Chair, Cecille Ford, along with WIADCA Mas Committee members, Cheryl Celestine and Beverly Craigwell.
Among the exhibits were the history of NYC Carnival, description of mas and traditional mas, and costumes representing past portrayals by designers based in New York City.
Roland Guy depicted Dame Lorraine for traditional costume.
“The Dame Lorraine had exaggerated physical characteristics like a big bottom and big breasts, both as a satirical representation of their former European masters, as well as the collective memory of ancient African masquerade traditions like Gelede and Egungun (Nigeria),” Ford told Caribbean Life.
“Traditionally, men portrayed the Dame Lorraine; nowadays, mostly women portray the character,” she added. “The players were always masked and appeared at the annual Dimanche Gras (Fat Sunday) celebrations.”
Kay Mason, of Sesame Flyers International, Inc., sponsored and portrayed Mythical Birds of Peace, Love and Prosperity. The costume was designed by the late Foulette Eustace.
Ford said ancient Egypt stood as one of the world’s most advance civilizations for nearly 3,000 years and “created a culture so rich that it has spawned its own field of study.
“This mythical sacred firebird can be found in the mythologies of the Egyptians, Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Hindu, Phoenicians, Mesoamericans, Native Americans, and more,” she said. “There is a good reason to believe that the earliest Gods were nature Gods – birds, mammals, fish, etc.,” she added. “And so worshipped because they appeared to represent peace, love and prosperity.
“This portrayal depicts the birds’ aspect of these factors and is represented by two radiant birds of different colors, red and blue,” Ford continued. “The front of the costume shows the head and wings of the birds expanded in full flight. The back shows the long and short tails extended outwards to give more form when in motion.”
There were also exhibits by Giselle Fritz & Associates — Caribbean in Bloom, sponsored by Giselle Fritz; Jamaica, Lignum Vitae; Haiti, Choeblack; Trinidad and Tobago, Chaconia; Samba Dancers depicted by Kenneth Antoine of Antoine International; and 1199 SEIU’s Summer Section, sponsored by Curtis Dyer and Regine Thurin.
Lignum Vitae is Jamaica’s national flower. Lignum Vitae is a Latin word that means “Wood of Life.”
According to Ford, it’s known for its medicinal qualities and is said to be one of the most useful trees in the world.
“The body, gum, bark fruit, leaves, and blossoms, all serve some useful purpose,” she said. “The tree is short and compact, and it grows best in the dry woodland, along the north and south coasts of the island.
“The vibrant colors of Lignum Vitae which are purple, yellow, and white make it an outstanding flower,” she added.