The Evolution of Costumes

The Evolution of Costumes


Costume worn in the 1940s.

Junkanoo costumes have been around from the slave era. This is where slaves were permitted days, usually holidays like Christmas to do whatever they wanted. On these days given they chose to create costumes out of nets, conch shells, sea sponges, leaves, etc. Looking at the costume that slaves created, what can be taken from this image is that it may seem as though they picked up anything they can find to construct their costumes. Maybe they did, what does that tell us. Well, Bahamians are very creative and can create a piece of art out of anything.


Junkanoo costumes made from shredded crepe paper.

Before we take a nose dive into today’s costume creations. The mid 1930’s were years between what is now known as the past and the present. Where there was a bit of a transition into the potential of what junkanoo costumes could become. This is where Bahamians decided to alter their way of creating the costumes. Letting go of the sponges, leaves, and conch shells. They replaced these items using nothing but shredded paper mainly from newspaper onto their clothing, which then changed to colored crepe paper.

From using colored crepe paper, Bahamians today have brought many other items to the table to create a more festive and exuberant event. Cardboard, wires, feathers, and beads are now included bringing a whole new light to Junkanoo costumes. These changes are observed to be encouraged by the industry that the Bahamas has grown dependent on, it being Tourism.


In comparison to the costumes of the past we can see that we as Bahamians have improved immensely in the area of creativity when it comes to Junkanoo costumes. From using conch shells, fishing nets, and others. To using shredded paper, colored crepe paper, to finally achieving something so eye-catching and beautiful. We should acknowledge how far we have come with the development in costumes. Also, take in account that if we invest as much pride, determination and creativity we can achieve anything.