Trinidad & Tobago plays host to the "Great Show on Earth" known as carnival. Carnival has always been about social expression and the voice of society which is displayed on the streets of the country in an highly-spirited celebration of energy. Many people like to play traditional characters (mas) on the streets from the past which help to preserve the various social customs of an evolving culture, that provides a vital and essential link to the country's rich heritage.
The baby doll character, which is now extinct, was played up to the 1930s. The masquerader portrays a gaily dressed doll, decked out in a frilled dress and bonnet. In her arms she carries a doll which symbolises an illegitimate baby. The masquerader portraying the baby doll, stops male passers-by and accuses them of being the baby's father.
The bat costume is normally black or brown and fitted tightly over the masquerader's body. The headpiece covers the head entirely and is made from swansdown and papier mache face, teeth, nose and round eyes.. The mouth is used for vision and occasionally the mask is lifted to his forehead for a breath of air. Leather shoes with metal claws for toes are normally used. Ordinary shoes can also be adapted by the use of long socks, metal claws and a second sole. The wings with a wingspan from 12-15 feet are made from wire and bamboo or cane and covered with the same skin tight cloth worn on the body. Matching gloves complete the costume. There is a bat dance to go with the costume. In performance, the masquerader crawls, flaps, dances on his toes, and folds his wings in a series of choreographed movements, imitating the bat. Those who played bat mas long enough acquired the reputation of beginning to resemble the bat.
The Bookman, also referred to as the Gownman or Ruler, is a feature of devil mas portrayals. The other two groups of characters in the devil band are the imps and...