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Feb 4th, 2005
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Traditional Folk Forms

Jamaican folk forms, the essence of our nation's culture, are rooted in the ceremonies and traditions of our forebears. The JCDC plays a critical role in the preservation of these folk forms, which, without support, would simply die. These folk forms are sustained through the Commission's annual Festival of the Performing Arts and through the National and Regional Mento Yards, which showcase the variety of these forms and accord them dignity and their rightful place in the consciousness of the Jamaican society.

Traditional Music
The Mento is the original folk music created by Jamaicans. Instruments range from saxophones, flutes, bamboo fifes, PVC pipes, banjos, violins, bamboo fiddles, guitars, rhumba boxes double basses, rhythm sticks, shakkas and drums played with both sticks and hands.

See National Mento Band Competition 2001 Results -

Tribute to Vincent Price -

MENTO - Blue Graze Mento Band, Clarendon
(Festival 2001)

Traditional Folk Dances
MAYPOLE, Class 3
Ocho Rios Primary School
A European retention which was originally celebrated on May first at the May Day fertility celebration in England. It is now very Jamaican in character. Groups may comprise 12 to 16 dancers - sometimes all female or with mixed couples. The plaiting of the pole with coloured ribbons has basic traditional patterns, starting with the grand chain, basket weave wrapping the ribbons around the pole from the top. The plaiting then continues away from the pole ending with the 'cobweb' plait before the full unplaiting takes place. Mento music is usually the musical accompaniment, but it is now not unusual to have groups perform this dance to popular reggae tunes.

This is a ballroom set dance, which originated in the courts of Europe and was danced in Jamaica by the gentry during slavery. There are two styles - the Ballroom and the Camp Style - the former European, the latter the Creolized version. Mento Bands accompany these dances playing a variety of traditional European tunes, except for the fifth figure which employs the Mento, the first music created by Jamaicans.

Clonmel Primary & Jnr. High school

Kumina / cumina

KUMINA - Kumina Queen - Bernice Henry of the Port Morant Kumina Group
(Festival 2001)

Kumina is the most African of Jamaican cults. Kumina ceremonies are usually associated with wakes and entombments, but can also be performed at births, anniversaries and thanksgivings. During a Kumina ceremony the exponents call upon their ancestral spirits. The dance and music are two of the Kumina's strong features - the drum playing an integral part in this dance ritual.

KUMINA by Dalvey Kumina Group
Festival 2001)

Other instruments used include shakas and grater. The dancers move in a circular pattern anti-clockwise around the drummers in the center inching their feet along the ground with the back held in an almost erect posture. The hips, rib cage, shoulders and arms become involved as spins, dips and breaks in the body movements occur throughout the dance. Kumina is to be found primarily in the parish of St. Thomas and to a lesser extent in St. Mary and St. Catherine.

Jonkunnu (John Canoe) a Jamaican traditional dance of African origin. It is performed mainly at Christmas time and a strong feature of the dance is the characters, all males whose movements match their roles. Some of these characters are Pitchy Patchy, Devil, Horsehead, Cowhead, Actor Boy, Belly Woman, Warrior, Wild Indian, to name a few. The rhythm of the Jonkunnu Music is quite distinct from other ritual folk music with its fife and "rattling drum"- carried on the shoulders and played with sticks.

See the Children Jonkunnu Costume Competition 2001 Results -

Meet the Jonkunnu Characters!

Clonmel Cultural Club

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