To the uninitiated devil mas sounds like devil worship – ominous, evil. On the contrary, it is about reflection: holding a mirror up to institutions and individuals who think they are righteous and pious. Devil mas in T&T and the rest of the Caribbean began as the jab molassie (molasses jab) – a means of protest and destruction of oppressors property, molasses being a by-product of sugar, which fueled the enslavement of Africans on island plantations. In early portrayals they covered themselves with molasses, then often in the 20th century and still today, especially Grenada Jab Jabs cover themselves with oil or tar (ironically another representation of the evils of fossil fuels). Also contemporary devils cover themselves in paint, often blue, such as the popular blue devils in the images above.
The devil has also been said to represent all that was evil in society, including the evil of the slave trade, plantation owners, and the hypocrisy of oppressors. The devil shakes the pan demanding money from you like the church does at Sunday worship asking you really of all the people in society you applaud and respect who is really the devil, me, or that hypocrite over there? For more look back here and all kinds of mobile updates here.
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