Glossary of Traditional Caribbean Craft Materials

Caribbean artisans have used similar natural resources in fashioning traditional crafts and preparing local foods. Yet these materials are often known by different names throughout the region.

Scroll through this glossary or use the search box at right to find out more about regional craft materials and recipe ingredients.

Term
Khus-khus (grass)
Barbados
Synonym
Country
Vetiver
Dominica
Definition

A grass originally planted as a border to prevent soil erosion and as a boundary between fields. Now widely used in crafts to make mats, baskets and other articles

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Term
Lignum Vitae
Synonym
Country
Caribbean region
Definition

A medium-sized, evergreen tree with a scaly-brown bark on slender trunk… it yields an extremely hard, resinous wood which is used for furniture and other wood products

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Term
Locust
(Hymenaea Courbaril)
Synonym
Country
Caribbean region
Definition

A very hard, light brown, straight-grained wood much favoured in furniture-making and boat-building and for pilings

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Term
Loofah, luffa
Synonym
Country
Nenwah
Guyana
Strainer
Barbados
Torchon
Trinidad
Definition

A green cylindrical fruit about a foot long, resembling a cucumber…cooked as a vegetable when young… better known in its dry, massively fibrous state as a useful scrubber.

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Term
Mashramani
Synonym
Country
Guyana
Definition

A week of annual national festivities and celebrations surrounding Republic Day, February 23. The word was borrowed from the Arawakan term masaramani ‘voluntary work done cooperatively’.

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Term
Matapee
Guyana
Synonym
Country
Cassava squeezer
Caribbean region
Cutacoo
Jamaica
Koulèv
Dominica
Sebucan
Trinidad
Wowla
Belize
Definition

An elongated, basket-work cylinder used for squeezing the juice from grated cassava thereby expelling the poison

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Term
Monkey Pot
Synonym
Country
Monkey
Definition
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Term
Pandanus
Synonym
Country
Cane Lily
Ping Wing
Belize, Jamaica
Screw Pine
Barbados, Dominica Nevis, Tobago, Trinidad
Definition
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Term
Pierrot Grenade
Synonym
Country
Trinidad
Definition

A male masquerader dressed in one or other distinctive type of clownish costumes made of rags and bells, pieces of jute bags etc.

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Term
Sansevieria
(Sansevieria trifasciata)
Synonym
Country
Lily
Barbados
Mother-in-law tongue
Guyana
Snake bush/plant
Barbados, Belize, Guyana
Definition

Any of several varieties of an ornamental plant, comprising a cluster of mottled green or variegated erect and stiffish, sword-shaped leaves … which when beaten yield a lustrous white fibre suitable for cordage.

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