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Living Heritage Showcases the Performing Art of the Mock Jumbie

Published 10 June 2024

St Kitts, Basseterre,

Buckie Got It Media Source

Living Heritage Showcases the Performing Art of the Mock Jumbie

(Department of Creative Economy, St. Kitts, June 10, 2024):- The Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Domain of the Performing Arts was showcased on the inaugural Living Heritage featuring Traditional Knowledge Bearer Peter “Piggott” Walters on Thursday, June 06, 2024.

“Piggott” detailed his experience of being a Mocko Jumbie (a traditional stilt-walker in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis) from the tender age of 9 when he began imitating the performers in his town of Sandy Point.  He said that as he continued to practice, he was noticed by one of the Mocko Jumbie troupe leaders who invited him to perform with his group.  The full Living Heritage mini-documentary with “Piggott” can be found at Facebook SKN ICH or ICH SKN as well as at You Tube StKittsCulture.

The Element of the Mocko Jumbie, within the ICH Domain of the Performing Arts can be traced back to Africa where several tribes had stilt walkers, some whose captivating dances formed part of funeral rites.  The dialect word jumbie means a spirit of the dead walking the earth among the living.  The artform is therefore commonly believed to have come to the Federation with the former enslaved who chiefly comprise the population of the sister islands.

During Living Heritage, “Piggott” outlined changes have taken place during his decades of being a Mocko Jumbie from the 1960s to the 2010s.  He recalled that when he first performed the costume included the stilts, a mask for those who could perform in it, a whip and colourful gcancan skirts.  As time progressed, the Traditional Knowledge Bearer said it was decided to remove the skirts and add more reverent and patriotic attire.  According to “Piggott,” whereas traditional string band music was initially danced to, over the years Mocko Jumbies began dancing to any type of popular music.

The Mocko Jumbie veteran also said that he invented several tricks including holding one stick up at the front which he called the chicken wing as well as using different troupe members to make letter formations that could be seen from an arial view.  With pleasure, “Piggott” noted that over the years he had performed at several Caribbean Festival of the Arts (CARIFESTA’s) and various clubs around the world had sponsored trips and accommodation for his troupe and himself to perform at various locations and events.

Now in his later years “Piggott” no longer performs but keeps himself busy by passing on his knowledge to individuals willing to learn the artform.  Living Heritage can be viewed or commented on by going to the Department of Creative Economy (Cultural Heritage’s) Facebook@SKN ICH and @ ICH SKN or YouTube@stkittsculture or Twitter@stkittsculture.

Click on the PDF Link below for access   


Peter Piggott Walters
Mocko Jumbie

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