Moko Jumbies

The Dancing Spirits of Trinidad: A Photographic Essay of the Stilt-Walkers of Trinidad and Tobago
By Stefan Falke

Photography/Travel
Published Spring 2005
ISBN: 0-9727661-3-8
216 pages: Over 200 photographs

$65 USD

$65 USD

N’Neka Pompey and Ferlyn Frank are completely covered in body paint for a parade.
A silver-painted Shane Drayton as Pan Man won first place for performance and costume in a Junior Individual Carnival competition.

A wall in Queens Park Savannah is convenient for resting and removing stilts after an event.

John Sterling, a Moko Jumbie, has covered his face with glitter.
An old-fashioned monkey mask hides an anonymous Carnival participant.

Two children from the South Moko Jumbies, a group Dragon started in 2000, seem to fly down a wide street in Port-of-Spain.

Outside the yard in Cocorite, Jasmine Girvan tries on the amazing Cheese Ball Queen costume designed by Laura Anderson Barbata.

Moko Jumbies are arrayed in the Yellow Devils costumes that Brian MacFarlane created as a special presentation for the 2004 closing night of Carnival Messiah, a theatrical production at Queens Hall in Port-of-Spain.

Rodney Barrow, leaning against a tree, and Kern Bowen, in Bamboo Bug Man attire, amuse some police officers and a street vendor in Adam Smith Square.

Summary

Seventeen years ago, Glen “Dragon” de Souza founded the Keylemanjahro School of Arts and Culture on the island of Trinidad. His mission was to revive the almost forgotten West African tradition of the Moko Jumbie or “stilt-walker,” and adopt it into the annual Carnival celebration. Today, more than one hundred Moko Jumbies—boys and girls starting from the age of four years old—practice at the Keylemanjahro School.  Internationally recognized photographer Stefan Falke spent six years documenting these “dancing spirits” of Trinidad.  With rare power, he captures the vivid costumes and haunting beauty of the Moko Jumbie dances in over 200 dazzling color photographs.

About the Author

Stefan Falke was born in Germany in 1956.  He abandoned his studies in civil engineering to follow a passion for documentary photography.  His photographs and movie stills have been published in major international magazines and he will be showing his work at the International Photojournalism Festival in Perpignan, France in 2004.  He began taking pictures of the Moko Jumbies in 1997, a year after he had seen them for the first time in Trinidad.  In 1999, he became a member of laif, one of the leading agencies for photojournalism, magazine and travel photography in Germany.   He lives in New York City.  This is his first book.

 

Why We Published This

The goal of Moko Jumbies was not to simply re-present Stefan’s rich photography, but to immerse the reader in the drama and ecstasy of the subject matter. The format is oversize because these stilt-walkers are truly larger than life – if you can’t be in Trinidad for Carnival, this book is the next best thing.

See Also

The Billboard Papers
Talking Heads
Talking Pictures
Frida Kahlo
Brush