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Body Chain Project: A Creative Interpretation of Caribbean Culture and Protest

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

I haven't made a body chain in a while. But I was attending a themed zoom party yesterday with @rasfmradio, and my mannequin always attends dressed for the occasion, LOL!

The theme was JAB JAB/ J'ouvert.

So, What exactly is Jab Jab?

Well, it's usually one of the annual carnival masquerade activities. But on this day/night of festivities, instead of the costumes that we are used to seeing- with a typically "pretty" aesthetic ( feathers, rhinestones, and super colorful) we see masqueraders dressed as the devil, and/or in old clothes and lathered in black oil.

Jab Jab Photo from: Trindad Carnival Diary


Jab is French creole for diable (devil).

"In celebrating emancipation, it is very possible that enacting scenes reminiscent of slavery (where burnt cane covered a laborers body), and re-satirizing the white plantocracy that had formerly satirized laborers through portrayals of Negue Jadin contributed to the creation of this mas. In 1848, Charles Day reported a band of masqueraders that have qualities similar to that of the Jab Molassie." - Travel

"Thus, in the Grenadian context, Jab Jab, as it is used, means “devil, devil” or “double-devil.” Certainly, the masqueraders are not the devils themselves. They are instead acting out the actions done by a people they believe to be devils."-

Sociopolitical Context

Overall, the theme of the party was timely, as in addition to quarantine/social distancing restrictions here in NYC; the conversation in the U.S. and across the world is currently about Amaud Arberry, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and all victims of racially

Thursday, June 4, 2020. NYC –(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

directed killings of black men an women by Law Enforcement.

Fashion and costume design

has a place in telling a story, in expressing an idea or feeling, and uniting in solidarity, whether in current or historical context.

Executing the Project

The "uniform" is old, tattered clothing, not a lot of clothing- as little as possible actually. The Jab Jab wears black body paint or black oil on their body. There is the use of cow chain, wearing of a horned helmet, and carrying of a whip.

These symbols have a historic context:

“In the days of slavery whenever fire broke out upon an Estate, the slaves on the surrounding properties were immediately mustered and marched to the spot, horns and shells were blown to collect them and the gangs were followed by the drivers cracking their whips and curging with cires and blows to their work."

I tried to find cow chain, but of course not so doable during a pandemic with many stores closed here in NYC. So I made due with what I could get a hold of in the stores that were open.

I used 8 Leashes, and connectors I had in the house to create a y shaped body chain.

I then purchased a pack of undershirts and cut up the black one in keeping with the black oil theme.

Learn More

More info and history about Jab Jab:

Product info

Y shaped body chain by Zuri for Cocoabelly. Waist 32"; center length 14.5" $35.

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