One of the unique identifiers in the ethos of Tobago Carnival is the Mud Mas. But not many of us understand the deep-rooted ancestral ties that this feature has to who we are as a people.
Carnival was introduced to Trinidad and Tobago by French settlers in 1783, a time of slavery. Banned from the masquerade balls of the French, the slaves would stage their own mini-carnivals in their backyards — using their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating and sometimes mocking their masters’ behavior at the masquerade balls.
French men and ladies would use lots of make up "powder" and slaves would use mud instead.
Even deeper than that is the history of our ancestors using mud and clay to build homes, for medicinal and healing purposes, for cleansing - and to feed themselves with the creation of ovens made of mud, dirt and clay that we can still find littered across Tobago today!
Even though the origins may not be glamorous, mud mas has been woven into the fabric of Tobago Carnival in a way that is not replicated anywhere else in the world.
Dwane Trim has always been civic-minded and has always shared an interest in things that are good for the growth of Tobago’s tourism industry. Additionally, he has had a burning passion for educating others. He, therefore, coupled that passion with his admiration for the antiquities in an effort to serve Tobago by capitalizing on a local experience that may attract visitors from far and wide. He thought what better way to do so than through Carnival experience.
He decided to capitalise on the mud mas Carnival tradition and host a mud mas showcase for the carnival 2010 experience. It was a sense of obligation that fuelled this initiative. A responsibility to uphold the legacy of a community elder who had passed away the previous. This community elder was also a leader who led an educational, fun mud mas showcase each year. After two successful years, Mr trim wanted to add some colour to the activity and make it a tourism product called Museum Day.
It was then, in 2012, that the Bagatelle Dutty Camp was registered, and the evolution of mud mas by Mudernmud experience was introduced to Trinidad and Tobago. He sought to make the mud more vibrant and wanted to acquire the best clay for the product. He gathered some of his most dedicated friends each year to trod far into the deep jungles of Tobago to obtain the finest clay, to produce the finest product. Naturally and artificially coloured mud were therefore introduced to participants of the annual mud mas showcasing, as opposed to the traditional brown mud. By 2107, Mr Trim realised that he had found a priceless niche and decided to give up plumbing, making it merely a hobby. He went into Mudernmud as a full-time job and sought to make it a packaged retail product. The Mudernmud product has since then grown into export and has been used at Museum Day for 9 consecutive years.
The Bagatelle Dutty Camp has also hosted a private educational pageant known as the Miss Mudernmud Pageant in 2014 and 2015. This initiative had several categories geared toward educating the history of mud mas. The Bagatelle Dutty camp remains dedicated to serving Tobago through Health, Education and Entertainment Tourism.
MUDERNMUD is a clay-based carnival accessory which takes the form of a lotion and is at one's disposal in a variety of colours; pink, green, yellow, purple, orange, blue, champagne and brown. Masters extract the uppermost quality of clay, which is concocted with colour and packaged metal drums, plastic buckets or an environmentally safe, export-friendly, transparent packet with a spout and an attached glow-in-the-dark label.
Mudernmud has been used in over 8 countries worldwide, from Miami, Antigua, Montserrat, Bahamas, England, Germany just to name a few and with Trinidad being our largest market. The Tobago Mudernmud Festival was established in the carnival of 2012 to celebrate Mud as a traditional type of Carnival Mas and to enlighten the masses about this neoteric mud formula indigenous to the majestic isle of Tobago. The festival adds to worldwide awareness of Mud Mas in Tobago which occurs every year on carnival Sunday to carnival Tuesday.