Heritage & Culture

THE LANGUAGE
For those who may not know, Kwéyòl (Creole) specifically Antillean Creole is a French-based linguistic fusion of languages which includes elements of English and West African grammar and vocabulary, together with a few echoes of the early indigenous Carib and Arawak tribes who left their foot prints on the islands. Kwéyòl is still spoken today, in varying degrees, throughout many Lesser Antilles Caribbean countries most notably in Dominica, Saint Lucia, Guadeloupe and Martinique as well as St. Croix, French Guyana and Haiti.
THE FASHIONS
The Wob Dwiyet is a style of ladies’ dress which began appearing in the French Caribbean islands towards the end of the 18th century. During these days of slavery, on Sundays and feast days the freed African women (also slaves), ditched their uniforms and used the little money that they made from selling their small garden allotments to make the Wob Dwiyet dress (creole, from the French ‘robe douiette’). The early dresses consisted of a floor length skirt of madras cloth worn over a white cotton chemise, trimmed at the neck with lace adorning the hem, sleeves and neck. Ribbon was threaded through the lace and chemise while foulards were created from pliable material. Using heavily starched lacy ribboned petticoats, propelled the West African tradition of lifting the skirt and flinging it carelessly over one arm making it a fashion statement, an action still witnessed today in cultural dances. A coloured cotton triangle sometimes white was draped over the bosom completing the French way of dressing. The Creole dress remains popular to this day and plays an important part as a national dress worn at various Independence day festivals and ‘Jounen Kwéyòl’ (Creole Day)