Ok Lime, I wanna know about Trini Textiles, clothes, textile arts, weaving, baskets, dying, blankets or quiltmaking, or whatever they are up to... I know there's a lot of Indian influence....but, what about the rest?
For some posts I do a little research, for this one I'm just going to report on my own observations. I am not aware of any specific craft that is unique to Trinidad but there are all sorts of locally made items that are available, moreso since tourism has increased.
Most villages and small towns have some sort of little shop run by Rastafarians or someone else who specializes in leatherworking. Baskets, knit caps, incense, and items made from calabash gourds are also often available. In the capital, (say it with me Yahoo trivvers...)Port of Spain, there is a terrific back alley network of shops called the Rasta Mall. Take a turn off one of the main roads lined by department stores and you'll find yourself in the dizzying maze of tiny crowded shops stocked with local handmade items. It's dark, sweaty, and the smell of ganja wafts here and there but it's the place for unique handmade items. Want a pair of sandals but they don't have any that fit? 'No problem, I'll trace yuf foot. Yuh could pass fuh de slippers in two days.' Two days later you'll have custom handmade leather sandals for less than $20. Now when I was there last in 2000 my friends told me that local shoes were hopelessly out of style since Payless Shoes had come to Trinidad. I said I didn't care I thought the local sandals had much more personality than some mass produced stuff. Don't you agree?
Here's a calabash gourd purse. This one is about 8 inches long. They can range from bigger than your head to tiny enough for just a lipstick. My girls have ones that were left round rather than flat backed like mine but finding them would require an archeological expedition of their bedrooms.
My large basket
Trinis love color and many women can sew since it is often much cheaper than buying ready-to-wear. Fabric shops abound. If you can't sew there is no shortage of tailors and seamstresses that will custom fit you. Everytime I've been there I've loaded up on batiks which can be had for about half the price you'd pay here in the US.
This garment is called a shalwar kameez. The loose, slighty fitted dress comes to about the knees with matching loose pants worn underneath. Shalwars are Indian style women's wear. I bought this one because the tiedye design shows the African influence and I loved how in one garment I could see the intermingling of Indian and African styles to produce a comfortable thing of beauty...much like the culture of the island itself.
Now, if you enjoy my spin as an American who lived in Trinidad I'd love to have you stroll over to Ttfootball's place. She's a Trini living in the US and has so far posted just a few of her observations of us. I'd love to see her post some more so go show her some love and encourage some more posts from her. Thanks!
Happy Trini Tuesday on Wednesday!