All About John Bulls

“JOHN BULLS were replicas of the grotesquely
masked African Witch Doctor with a bull’s horns
on the head. They were the dominating feature of
the festivities in town and country. There was
terror and excitement in the young and old.
John Bulls were tended by a ‘Cattle Tender’. The
crack of the whip he would tease the bull. The bull
would then shoot off in the direction of the crowd
of children or grownups and plough through them
and they would scatter.
The costume was sometimes just a sugar crocus
bag with the head cut out and two armholes, with a
big piece of rope around the waist. To absorb the
blows from the whip they would stuff the back
with grass or straw, like a hunchback. On his head
he had a cow’s horn clamped onto a rigid piece of
cloth. His head was padded with a big ‘catacoo’,
which was a soft support.
The John Bull generally wore a mask, but
sometimes they reverted to blackening their faces
with grease and paint and sprinkling with a little
fine chalk dust. They looked very grotesque.
Some of the best John Bulls came from the villages
to town, but most of them were porters or
stevedores, men who would hang around the rum
shops on Long Street.”

That’s a bit of ole time Christmas from the latest Museum newsletter which also hits the main points of Antigua and Barbuda’s Independence journey, talks about the disappearing environment, and more. Read it at your leisure in the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda newsletter: HAS Newsletter 2015-4th quarter 2015 templateba

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