Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Trini Tuesday-Anansi

Every culture has its folklore. Such colorful stories may explain various natural phenomena or be used to pass on cultural values. We are familiar with Aesop's fables, Native American legends, Greek mythology, Grimm's fairytales and the like. In Trinidad, along with much of the Caribbean and even some parts of the southern USA, Anansi stories are commonly told.



*image taken from http://gotoai.com/Anansi_The_Music_Metaphysician.htm


Anansi stories came along with west African slaves that were brought to the New World. Anansi is a clever little spider who manages to outwit much larger and stranger creatures with ease. He may merely save his own neck or he may manage to solve a problem for the community. Often he is finding a way to get others to do his dirty work. In some stories he is seen more as a man-spider creature instead of just a magical talking spider. Regardless of his form or motivations, his skill with words and his clever ways are the traits that are highly valued and which provide the entertainment value.



The following tale was taken from the webpage for the Robinson O'Neal Primary School, BVI



Tobago Anansi Story: ‘Why They Name the Stories for Anansi’


Once upon a time, Anansi decided that children should call all their stories after him. So he went to Master King and told him this, and Master King said, ‘Well, as you know, Blacksnake is a very wise and clever creature. If you can trick him and bring him back to me full length on a pole, then I will have all those stories named for you.’ Well, Anansi really wanted his name to be known this way, but it is very hard even to catch a snake. Anansi knew that Blacksnake really loved to eat pigs, so he went and set a trap for Blacksnake with a pig as bait. Mr. Blacksnake, though, was very clever and saw immediately that it was a trap, so when he got to it he just rose up his tail and slithered right over it, catching the pig in his mouth as he went by. He took it home and had a good dinner for himself.


Well, Anansi then really had to think hard about how he was going to catch Blacksnake. So he tried again. He set another trap with a pig, this time in a place that he knew Mr. Snake passed each day of the week to go for water. Again, Mr. Blacksnake saw the trap, so he walked around it, took the pig, and went on his own way. He met Nansi then, and he said to him, ‘Nansi, you have been setting these traps for m all around. Why are you doing this when you know I am as wise and clever as you and any other creature?’ So Nansi said, ‘Well, Mr. Blacksnake, I must tell you the truth. They were talking up there in Master King’s yard, and everyone was saying that of all the snakes, the longest is Mr. Yellowtail Snake. I tried to tell them you were much longer, but they just shouted, and so I bet money that you were the longest. So will you come with me and prove to Master King that you are longer than Mr. Yellowtail Snake?’


Now, Blacksnake was very proud of his length. So he said, ‘As a matter of fact, Mr. Nansi, I am much longer than Yellowtail Snake, and I’m glad you told the king because he should know such things.’ So Nansi said, ‘Well, how can we prove it to Master King? Why don’t you lie down as long as you can make yourself, and I’ll take you to Master King that way and we’ll prove it together?’ So Blacksnake thought for a while and he couldn’t see anything wrong with doing it that way, so he just lay down full-length, and stretched and stretched himself until he was stretched as full as he could get. And Nansi quickly tied him to a pole as tightly as he could. Nansi just threw that pole across his shoulder and carried him right up to the king: ‘Well, Master King, you see I brought Mr. Blacksnake to you tied up on a pole.” So the king said, ‘Well, after today, I’m going to call all those stories Nansi Stories, and I’ll order everybody else to do the same, because you were able to trick the wisest and cleverest of the creatures.’

15 comments:

G-Man said...

I'm sure there is some sort of symbolism going on here Lime..
Those darn Trini's.
Maybe you should do like Tennessee Tuesday, or Toledo Tuesday, or Topeka Tuesday.....But quite informative just the same..xoxox

Logophile said...

Tricksy spider
You found another good topic, well done!

KFarmer said...

I love old folklore- It would not hurt my feelings a bit if you were to post one weekly :) Good tale!

Charles said...

The king must have been quite clever himself, he got a snake on a spit, ready for roastin'. :)

lecram sinun said...

Love the Anansi stories. Watch your email soon for something. :)

Cosima said...

Pride goes before a fall...

I had never heard of Anansi stories before. It's such a wonderful witty story.

Phaedrous said...

Good story, Lime. For more, you could always read this:

http://www.neilgaiman.com/works/books/anansiboys

Keyser Soze said...

Lots of blogging from oyu lately and not much from me. Great mom's day post, congrats on no cavities. I laughed out loud at the hit man index. Good to see ya kid. I'm aight here. Still trudging the happy road to destiny.

Breazy said...

I loved the story Lime. I love to hear folklore!

Happy Trini-Tuesday!

furiousBall said...

Those are great. I have a great book of American Indian Folklore and this reminds me a lot of a few of the stories in there as well.

How exactly do you put a snake on a spit? I mean you can't really do it the length of the snake right? It would just split it right down the middle and fall into the fire...ok, I'm making myself sick now.

cathy said...

It is nice to hear folklore from different parts of the world. I'll have to see what I can dig up in Greece to entertain you with.

S said...

Ah yes, Anansi....get me the rolled up newspaper, NOW! LOL

MONA said...

this is indded very Interesting & a lovely story, that!
I India we have a lot of folk lore & tales.
Specially we have tales called JATAKS that are like parables of Lord Buddha.
Also some very famous folk tales called PANCHTANTRA, tales with a valuable moral in the end.Every parent makes their children read specially those!

Brian said...

I loved the story and I really enjoy these Trini posts.

Jocelyn said...

Anasi is such a total dude. The hair, man.

(I'm generally a pretty deep person, as you can tell).