Tue | Feb 18, 2020

Celebration of Jamaica's heritage

Published:Sunday | May 6, 2018 | 12:00 AM

There are many everyday objects that are very sentimental to Jamaicans. One such object is a lamp that has illuminated the darkness of many Jamaican households in time gone by.

Known more popularly as the Kitchen Bitch, it is also referred to as the cowgut, tilly lamp, and tinning lamp in some parishes. The Kitchen Bitch is a three-tiered, shadeless lamp with a handle that is fuelled by kerosene oil and a cloth wick.

According to Olive Senior (2003) the lamp, may have got its name because even in homes with glass lamps, it was the lamp that was used in the kitchen, which in the old days, was always separate from the house.

A 1987 Jamaica Journal states that the Kitchen Bitch was used as the official symbol of (JAMAL) Jamaican Movement for the Advancement of Literacy in 1973 (Jamaica Foundation for Life Long Learning) as its symbol and its appropriate visual representation of their motto 'Lighten Our Darkness'.


(May-July 1987). The Kitchen Bitch. Jamaica Journal, Vol. 20. (No. 2)

Senior, O. (2003). Encyclopaedia of Jamaican Heritage. Kingston, Jamaica: Twin Gunip Publishers.

- Information compiled by Sharifa Balfour, assistant curator, National Museum Jamaica