Welcome to the Traditional Mas Archive, an online resource for festival drama in the Caribbean region. Focusing on characters and performance elements central to Traditional Masquerade performance in Trinidadian Carnival (Ole Mas), and with the ambition of examining dozens of related festival drama practices found throughout the Caribbean and world, the Traditional Mas Archive is a completely free resource.
Our mission is threefold:
PRESERVE culture and performance elements of Caribbean masquerade through documentation.
PERSONALIZE carnival by giving a face to the performers, groups, and events that draw from traditional mas.
PERFORM and be an active collaborator in the creation of work drawing inspiration from festival drama and traditional mas.
Our full mission statement can be found by clicking here.
At the heart of the Archive is our visually sortable list of mas characterizations, which include primary source interviews, photo essays, critical analysis by editors, and information commonly referenced by major works on the subject. As the archive has only recently been launched, many exciting additions and changes will take place over the next few months. Please feel free to contact the archive at any time with suggestions, corrections, or contributions of your own.
More About the Origins of Traditional Mas Archive:
Initially an offshoot of research conducted while on grant from the Fulbright Foundation, this archive is now the result of international collaboration between students, scholars, researchers, visual and performance artists, and carnival participants with a shared passion in preserving and promoting traditional Caribbean mas.
Functioning under the premise that information on traditional mas is very often left unrecorded, decentralized, or found only in research papers that most people do not have access to, we aim to create a central repository of data on mas research, accessible by the public, for free. When then aim to create new works informed by this research.
The philosophy in approaching our research is simple: create a standardized list of attributes and categories detailing how a mas is performed, with added insights to the history and cultural significance of these performances.
We have three basic sources of information: primary source interviews (speaking directly to performers and hearing how they articulate what it is they do), editorial observation (notes and analysis by our editors and contributors), and other published works (sharing short snippets of other mas publications for educational purposes). Additionally, contributing artists and mas enthusiasts have been willing to share their images and thoughts with us, which are often shared directly on this site.
It is important to note that as a cultural event, the rules of mas play are subjective and more prone to qualitative description than empirical measurement and standardization. We don’t want to neatly describe mas as if it is a dead practice, but rather we seek to embrace mas as a developing art form, and through interview, observation, and analysis, encourage dialogue, research, and performance. We hope you’ll join us in this examination by writing the Archive.