#culture · 18 hours ago

Why Isn’t Traditional Jamaican Culture As Prominent Like Others?

Okay so here are some examples of what I mean by this question: -I don’t see images of traditional Jamaican wedding compared to traditional Nigerian, Greek, Indian, etc weddings. Needless to say, the traditional dances you would see at other weddings, I don’t see it in Jamaican weddings. -As for clothing, I can always point out “okay this person is Pakistani, Nigerian, or Japanese” because they have cultural attire that represents their country. Why don’t I see much of that for Jamaica? Everything seems westernized. I don’t know much about Jamaica so please educate me on the country and tradition.


Jamaica is a very small country with very distinctive cultural traits. When you talk about Nigeria, India and Greece, you’re talking about countries that have a recorded history of continuously transmitted traditions that go back centuries or millenia.

Jamaica was a colony of Spain, which murdered the entire Taino indigenous population by the late 17th century. Then it was colonized by Britain, that began the slave trade, introducing most of the population of African descent, a process that began just under 4 centuries ago. So it is only for the past couple of centuries that we can speak of a proper “Jamaican culture”, which is by no means homogeneous, and is heavily influenced by colonizer oppression and niches of cultural resistance.

And even yet, contrary to what you said, Jamaican culture is one of the most recognisable in the world today, which is surprising given the size and history of the country. The colours of the flag, all the contemporary dreadlock culture, the immense legacy of ska, reggae and dancehall, the huge influence of Marcus Garvey in politics, the different philosophies and aesthetics of Rastafarianism - even the colours of the Ethiopian flag are more associated with Jamaica than with Ethiopia.


Jamaica has the “melting pot” kind of culture typical of colonised countries (your post makes me think you don’t live in a colonised country, or have not yet reflected upon the influence of colonisation). Certainly there are many influences of traditions of people from the Nigerian region, but the slave trade made it impossible for people to know that they descend from Nigerians.


Nice! It’s difficult to completely destroy a culture. In Brazil, where I’m from, there are many indigenous nations that were officially wiped out centuries ago, but many descendants from these tribes are reclaiming long lost identities. I heard that many Tainos were sheltered in the Blue Mountains, there was probably a lot of cultural interchange between them and the maroons


yes it is great that i see more us with native blood take a active part in learning about our ancestors. They were peaceful and paid the price well the tainos did. especially on the islands. did you ever hear about the Amazon being man made? i i always wanted a Brazilians take on that?.


Yes, I’ve heard this theory, and it makes sense. Probably it’s an overstatement to say it’s completely man made, but no doubt the people who lived in the Amazon had a very comprehensive agricultural knowledge. Some people say the origins of this knowledge comes from people that migrated from central America, perhaps an Arawak corn culture. Some Amazonian tribes came to the Brazilian Atlantic coast, where they quickly adapted to the Atlantic Forest, which shares some similarities with the Amazon. Nowadays, some of the best-preserved parts of the Atlantic Forest are in indigenous territories.


sorry about that, what I meant is that there was a massive persecution and ethnic cleansing by the Spanish in the 17th century. I should probably have thrown a “nearly” in the sentence somewhere. Many indigenous nations of Brazil, where I’m from, have been officially extinguished, but are being reclaimed by their descendants


Ah shit sorry dude. I’m just used to people who can barely spell Taíno correcting people on taíno history. That kinda seems to be what’s going on the taínos have been rebuilding their communities. There’s even yukayekeno (tribes) outside of the Caribbean and there’s now a very small group who speaks Taíno fluently by teaching themselves. Although i haven’t meant any Cassikeyno (chiefs) or any other tribal leaders. That said they even made a dictionary for th taíno people. I’m vey happy to see indigenous peoples and their descendants rebuilding. Especially in Brazil the indigenous people there protect a large part of the amizon. That and Bolsonaro hates their existence and I’m glad he’ll have to suffer more.


That’s amazing. A large amount of indigenous nations in Brazil’s shoreline descend from the Tupi people of the Amazon. The original Tupi language has been eradicated, but many communities are starting to teach the language to young children again after centuries.

I don’t know much about it, but I heard there are theories that the Tupi people received a lot of influence of mesoamerican Arawak culture, which includes Taíno. I said that because I find it interesting that tribal chief in Taíno is “cassikeyno”: in Tupi it’s “cacique” (pronounced something like cassiky).


That seems to be the case in a lot of places around turtle island and South America. The more friendly natives who lived on coats and away from the deep jungle and high tops of mountains did not do as well. Although most of the indigenous people I’ve met were Métis+something else. The southern indigenous people I’ve met were mostly nawa meso Americans. I’ve never met a culturally indigenous South American tho. I’m very happy to see people learning their roots and learning their indigenous languages. Question are these people reinventing the language of old or learning the old one. The Taíno built really beautiful boats and sailed everywhere. Many of them were already mixed when the white man got here. So there’s a chance… that said the last two letters “no” aren’t really part of the word that’s just how the Taíno indicated plural. Although i might be wrong on that last bit my Taíno is a little rough..


Right, I think there is some degree of idealization of ethnicity of the peoples pre-European arrival. I sometimes think it’s more useful to think of tribe names more like political entities than properly ethnical. The Tupi people of the Brazilian coast shared a common heritage and language, but were divided into many different warring “tribes”: some allied with the Portuguese, some with the Dutch, some with the French, but they were all “Tupi”. And I don’t think it’s impossible that indigenous people of different backgrounds could get together for political purposes like economic necessity or military alliance. It’s noteworthy that very shortly after 1500 there were already children of indigenous mothers and French fathers in Brazil. Everything is a mess when you think about it


I was born in Jamaica but grew up in Canada.

When I was young, we had “Culture Day” at school and so I told my mom that I had to go to school dressed up in my cultural clothing. She sent me to school in a suit.

Thinking back to this now as an adult, I laugh but I can’t be mad at her. One idea that had come to mind were those long flowing dresses that the “Welcome to Jamaica” women would wear when you arrived at the airport, but those (along with the male equivalents) are a throwback to the plantation days when Jamaicans were enslaved. Nobody wears that outside of entertainment purposes.

There’s no “modern” cultural clothing if we want to think about it in the same sense as certain African or Asian countries. It’s kinda sad, but it’s the reality.


now, it depends on where you go, if you’re like other turists and only go into town areas especially, kingston, ochi, mandeville, portmore etc etc you’ll never find that, our history is deeply engrained in the ‘country’ part meaning go to the woodlands, also for weddings, i dont think we have a cultural wedding, never seen that before but yeah we dont have a cultural dressing but we have cultural colours , not the black green and gold but this and more derived from our motherland africa, also we tend to forget that ceremonies and clothing are not the only thing in our culture, as soon as you step off that plane you hear the music, thats our culture, you eat the food and taste the seasoning, culture, you also have to remember we are all not one people, each parish be it 100 years ago to now all have different cultures so you would not find a st catherine cultural country man marrying, wearing the same clothing or even speaking the same as a portland country man, dont look for culture in the town area, its as rare as addax


As a Canadian who JUST took their first international trip outside North America and went to Jamaica for the first time, I disagree with you. I was literally awestruck at seeing Jamaica’s culture all around me literally as soon as I got off the plane, in literally almost every aspect of my entire trip too. In 2022, nearly every country will have adopted micro forms of westernization as that’s the most prominent lifestyle seen by others globally. Also, Jamaica was literally colonized and exploited by western powers for decades. Of course it’s going to emulate forms of westernization. Name me one country that doesn’t? But what I saw was a country that loved their traditions and culture and LOVED to show people that. Not even in a tourist manner. They just love their food, clothing, history, music, evolution, everything. That’s something that captivated me. It made me happy to see a country that actually loved their culture and enjoyed displaying it. Just because Jamaicans don’t dress in the traditional clothing of their ancestors, pre-colonization, does not mean they lack culture or fail to show it, or that it’s not prominent. That’s just one small fraction of what culture is. Where I’m from, in Canada, even Jamaican culture is strongly and proudly represented here.


What others have already said in the comments is correct. Jamaica is a melting pot “mixture of other cultures” due to being colonization and slavery

Any culture we have individual would be based on colonization, slavery, indenturship etc.Such as our Creole/patois language (mix of English and African words because slaves has to have a simple way to communicate with slave masters)

Food, our unique dishes are mixtures and reinventions of African dishes brought by slave, Chinese dishes, Indian dishes etc

Original Jamaican music which is reggae and dancehall (dancehall is a type of music and a type of dance)

That is Jamaican culture

We do not have a traditional wedding ceremony, wedding dress or wedding dancesThe only type of traditional dress that we have is mostly only worn for entertainment is most likely predicated upon the type of dress worn during slavery times.

Jamaica was completely westernized before Jamaicans tried to reclaim and renew their cultural identity but everything is predicated upon slavery so it wasn’t easy. Jamaica is more than one culture mixed together to create something uniquely Jamaican, like our Creole language.


You’re looking at this all wrong. What does traditional Canadian culture look like? Or traditional American culture? Australian(not Aboriginal)? Jamaican society is just another offshoot of the British empire and, apart from a streams of cultural inputs from other parts of the world, our cultural heritage is primarily of British origin. You may have a few bush traditions around the place, but a traditional Jamaican wedding is essentially indistinguishable from a traditional British wedding.


> Everything seems westernized

Well geez, we were a British Crown Colony with majority West African slaves as ancestors. That may explain why.

> As for clothing, I can always point out “okay this person is Pakistani, Nigerian, or Japanese” because they have cultural attire that represents their country. Why don’t I see much of that for Jamaica?

Same reason for Black Americans , Haitians and every other black race imported into the West. And why do you need to point out anybody’ much less describe them by their clothes? Chinese can wear kimonos, Most Pakistanis don’t wear saris, and “Nigerian” clothing is determined by ethnic group.

> I don’t see images of traditional Jamaican wedding compared to traditional Nigerian, Greek, Indian, etc weddings. Needless to say, the traditional dances you would see at other weddings, I don’t see it in Jamaican weddings.

Wut? Sounds like you want to be entertained by exotic culture and got disappointed when you came to a 400 year old nation.


All native Jamaicans were killed. The people whonlive there now either moved there or are descended from colonists or the enslaved people the colonists brought there.

So, jamaica has a wonderful, beautiful, rich culture. But it is a relatively new (few hundred years) one that draws from and builds on African, Caribbean and European traditions.


They probably do have a lot of culture. There is a big yard culture in Jamaica (mind you I’ve never been to JA but only know from reading, so grain of salt) and I’m sure that it also pertains to weddings, for local communities.

As an American, I can ask the same question about my country. There is no distinctive culture, it’s generally the white gown tux chapel then reception kind of gig. I’m sure Jamaicans do have there own wedding things - the culture is pretty distinct by now, despite the like others have said colonial legacy - the food, the musical tastes, the festival traditions, as well as the input of Rastafari and so on… I dunno

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