Bermuda's Gombeys


The name of our hot pepper jam guy is taken from the one of the last vestiges of a truly Bermudian folk art. Our 'hot pepper guy' logo sports an abstract representation of the colouful peacock feather hats worn by Bermuda's Gombey dancers. We see our flavours as unique and as colourful as the rich heritage of the Gombeys, embodying an ensemble of cultural influences united by Bermudian tradition.


Bermuda's Gombeys are the convergence of African, Native American, and West Indian cultures combined with influences from British military music and the English Mummers:


African

The word 'gombey' is a Bantu word meaning 'rhythm' originally used to describe an African animal skin drum. Certain foot and leg movements, pirouettes, leaps, and splits as well as the tradition of adornment with peacock feathers also find their origins in West Africa.


Native American

The Gombey costume is heavily influenced by the Native American tradition. A decorative apron worn over fringed, tasseled leggings and props such as the tomahawk are reminiscent of traditional Native American celebratory dress.


West Indian

One of the strongest influences on Bermuda's Gombeys is from the West Indies. In fact many of Bermuda's original Gombeys originated from St. Kitts, and still today many can trace their lineage back to the West Indies The modern "Indian Dancers" of St. Kitts are similar to Bermuda's Gombeys but do differ in their movements and drum beats.


British Military Music

A British military music influence is very apparent in a Gombey performance. Gombeys play their base drums and snares with sticks and the captain of the Gombey troup uses a military-style whistle to give "commands" to his dancers.


English 'Mummers'

The Christmas Mummers of England historically entertained neighbours with song, dance and "folk drama". In a similar tradition, the Gombeys first used masks, costumes, and props to enact pagan rituals. Later Biblical stories were enacted.


(Source: "Gombey", Louise A. Jackson, 1987)