Shortknee mas in Grenada Carnival

Updated: Oct 21

ShortKnee

Shortknee is one of the traditional mas that can be found in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. The original word was "Pierrot" which comes from the french creole language, meaning "clown".


Shortknee Grenada

Photo Credits: Grenada Board of Tourism


Where

Shortknee bands are most prevalent on the western corridor of the island of Grenada. The parishes of Saint John, Saint Mark and Saint Patrick are homes to Shortknee bands such as Waterloo Shortknee and Coast Guard rebels.

During the Carnival season which spans from July to August each year, the Shortknee mas can be seen. Shortknee masqueraders usually come out on Carnival Monday and also Carnival Tuesday.


Appearance of the Shortknee

The Shortknee is uniquely dressed in multi-colored attire. They are covered from head to toe in multi-colored cloth. Both men and women, boys and girls play Short knee mas in the same clothes – a ¾ colourful jumpsuit, white shoes and faces covered in a wire mask. Anklets with bells that make ringing sounds are worn around the ankles. The stamping of the feet is done by masqueraders on stage and this intensifies the sound of the bells on the anklets. Small shiny mirrors can be found on the top of the coloured jumpsuit and is believed to ward away enemies. Also, the Shortknee carries white powder in their hands, and throw powder as they parade.


Performance

The Shortknee performance is done without music. Shortknee masqueraders come on stage and chant one line or two lines of verse that tells a story about their life or village. As part of the performance, Shortknee masqueraders can be seen “powdering the stage with white powder”. This is part of their unique signature or featured part of their performance. The group of masqueraders which includes adults and children move in a circular fashion during heightened periods of the performance. There are one or two leaders, typically male, who call the chants while the other masqueraders respond.


Practices

Shortknee masqueraders are known for asking patrons for monies or donations as they parade along the street. Shortknee masqueraders do not speak but only make action to indicate they request. Usually, they stay in groups of two or three as they move around requesting donations.


Small children often fear the Shortknee as they do not speak and can appear as somewhat scary characters in their clown-like jumpsuit outfits. A common saying is “Look dem Shortknee and them”


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