Drawing from the Mas: A Trindidad Sketchbook

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Oil Jumbie (Oilcan-boulay)

This jumbie find inspiration in the Canboulay’s ritual re-enactment of economic sabotage, a destructive act made creative. Like sugar, oil promises short-term addictive pleasure at the cost of long-term misery. The pre-Lenten excesses of the Carnival are fertile ground for the oil jumbie, who assails the crowd with sweet crude oil from his phallic gas-pump tail. Now, the equally-flammable oil has supplanted sugar as the driver of the Trindadian economy and, by extension, the economy of Carnival in particular. Still, as with the original Canboulay, the Oil Jumbie bites the hand that feeds. Grease-painted in the green and gold colors of British Petroleum, he executes a classic Carnivalesque inversion in which the very fuel for Carnival is turned upon itself.


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