A-Z of Elimu
To 'play mas' means to wear a costume and take part in carnival. But it means more than that too, it means letting the carnival spirit take over and becoming what the costume represents, whether a person, animal or mythical creature.
In Trinidad and several other Caribbean islands Carnival was celebrated by mainly French Catholic plantation owners. Before emancipation of slavery in 1807, the enslaved were forbidden from joining in carnival. After emancipation they now took full advantage of the relative new freedoms the ending of slavery brought them. Dressing up in costumes that mimicked the European fashions of their former masters, even whitening their faces with flour or wearing white masks, they established a tradition that continues in the costume-making of today's Notting Hill Carnival.