I love mocko jumbies. I think one of the reasons that I love them so much is that they always represent a party of some kind. In Caribbean culture, these masked, colorfully-costumed stilt walkers typically appear at carnival celebrations or other festivities. You'll find them on most English-speaking islands, where these figures can be traced back to traditional West African rituals where they represented spiritual seers and protectors of the village. I bought the fanciful mocko jumbie sketch above from artist Judith King in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. It enlivens my hallway with its playful spirit.
In May, the U.S. Virgin Islands unveiled their new logo and I thought it was particularly fitting that the symbol is a mocko jumbie. On St. Croix, St. Thomas and St.John, mocko jumbies pop up everywhere,from neighborhood jump ups to beauty pageants. Below, a crew of mocko jumbies get ready to parade in St. John.
Watching mocko jumbies dance and clown is an entertaining experience because it takes a lot of skill to balance on towering stilts and dance to pumping rhythms at the same time. The mocko jumbies below showcase the deftness required: