Pathfinders: history of carnival
©Copyright 2002-2009 by "Limelight Magazine.org"· All Rights reserved
Archive History of Carnival Carnival time both in the Caribbean and Latin America is one of the most eagerly awaited events in people’s lives. It’s a culmination of weeks, sometimes months of preparation by communities in which aspects of local art and culture explodes onto the street in a riot of colourful costumes, loud music and excitement. Calypso, Jazz, Cajon, Blues, Zouk, Steel Orchestras, Reggae, Salsa, Samba Bands, original masquerade costumes are all in focus when people from all classes and cultures come together for Carnival. Conquest and origins of Carnivals When the Spaniards conquered the islands in 1497 they met the Caribs doing a three day celebration which the Spaniards called Felice Loco (happy mad) which the natives classified as Poon Cha Ria. The Chieftain or (Kazeek) had their own band of three hundred decked out in screaming colours and greased down with Roucoo a red substance also used in food. They were followed by the Zeeks second in rank to the Kazeeks, the Zeeks had fifty or less in their band than the chiefs and the colours they wore were more subdued. Next in rank and the lowest in the tribal order was the Zeewahs composed mainly of very dark Caribs and Wayharias. Singers The leader always had two Kareedos at his side. They sang their Carietos and members of the band replied. The Carietos were mostly sung to make the sick better, to bless or curse, and make warriors more sanguinary to charm loved ones etc. Carietos were mostly chanted during warfare and served to make the warriors berserk. When wounded a group of Kareedos sang, stamped, roared and howled to rejuvenate them. The history was passed down because a 19th century wayside preacher and bush historian of Caribbean decent passed it as his grandfather had passed it to him. He then passed on a dramatised version of what occurred during the carnival to French and later English friends. His rival and bitter enemy Guandori also performed with Carib plays, depicting the highlights of what went on with carnival centuries before. Trinidad carnival is among the best in the world and has a hectic and uproarious past and glorious present, as the oldest carnival in the Caribbean.