Jamaican culture is a blend of African, Taino, European, Chinese, Indian and some middle eastern cultures. Through the centuries, the country’s arts and crafts, music, folklore, dance, and religion have become distinctly Jamaican from this amalgamation of cultures. Art activities expose people to the Jamaican culture and style through craft projects.
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Traveling to Jamaica: Places to Visit, Souvenirs to Buy, Things to Watch
Crafting a Rasta Bracelet
Rasta (Rastafari movement), a religious movement and ideology that arose in a Christian culture in Jamaica during the 1930s, has a strong influence on Jamaican arts and crafts. One of the most popular examples is the Rasta bracelet. This accessory is distinctive for its Rasta colors. Red mainly symbolizes the blood of martyrs who fought for freedom. Yellow or gold reflects the abundant resources of the Jamaicans’ homeland. Green stands for the natural beauty and lush vegetation of Jamaica. The color black is often included as well to represent the color of the Africans.
Using the Rasta colors, the Rasta bracelet is typically made from craft foams and threads, along with pony beads or shells. To make one, cut a piece of craft foam reflecting the size and shape of a bracelet. Size depends on how you want it to fit your arm. Punch a hole on each end. Wrap craft threads of varying colors around the craft foam piece to design the bracelet. Glue each thread’s ends at the back of the bracelet or you may prefer to individually wrap it over previous threads to secure it within the bracelet. Cut about 16 inches each of your chosen craft threads (preferably the same as those wrapped around the bracelet). Together, attach them into the punched holes of the bracelet, along with pony beads or shells placed outside the punched holes. Braid the threads on the bracelet’s left side as they extend farther from the beads, then tie a knot by their ends. Do the same on the threads on the right side of the bracelet.
Making a Jamaican Bandana
The Jamaican bandana is usually worn as a headwear to complete Jamaica’s national costume. It has also become a popular fashion accessory. Jamaican bandanas are colorful with the basic hints of the Rasta colors red, yellow, and green. With more modern designs, there are fabrics used for bandanas that are adorned with other colors as well. Apart from being used as a headwear, it can also be worn as a belt.
Making a bandana requires a piece of cloth (usually made of cotton), beads, and fabric paint. A person folds and cuts the cloth in specific measurements, then he places the beads onto the fabric. Using fabric paint, he can add more details, designs and colors to the bandana.
Participating in Jamaican Performance Art
Jamaica has a strong tradition of folk and religious music that has evolved throughout the centuries, particularly gaining worldwide recognition with reggae music.
While music is the most popularly developed performance art in Jamaica, traditional performances such as the native Jamaican impromptu plays and African Caribbean oratorical traditions also offer significant contributions to the performance art culture of Jamaica. According to the Every Culture website, the language and style in these art forms involve “speechifying” or “sweet talking” by utilizing African cultural expressions and words inspired by social issues.
“Art in Jamaica,” My Island Jamaica.
“Jamaica,” Every Culture.
“Handmade Art,” Jamaica Guide.
“Jamaican Culture,” My Island Jamaica.
“Jamaican Arts and Crafts,” Hands On Crafts for Kids
“Rasta Bracelets,” Hands On Crafts for Kids.
“Rastafari,” Religion Facts.
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