Posted by Azizi Powell
Editor: This post is mostly comprised of quotes from this Wikipedia page (assessed on 9/2/2011) Anansi
"Anansi the trickster is a spider, and is one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore.
He is also known as Ananse, Kwaku Ananse, and Anancy; and in the Southern United States he has evolved into Aunt Nancy. He is a spider, but often acts and appears as a man. The story of Anansi is akin to the tricksters Coyote, Raven or Iktomi found in many Native American cultures.
The Anansi tales are believed to have originated in the Ashanti people in Ghana. (The word Anansi is Akan and means, simply, spider.) They later spread to other Akan groups and then to the West Indies, Suriname, and the Netherlands Antilles. On Curaçao, Aruba, and Bonaire he is known as Nanzi, and his wife as Shi Maria…
Stories of Ananse became such a prominent and familiar part of Ashanti oral culture that the word Anansesem — "spider tales" — came to embrace all kinds of fables. Peggy Appiah, who collected Ananse tales in Ghana and published many books of his stories, wrote: "So well known is he that he has given his name to the whole rich tradition of tales on which so many Ghanaian children are brought up — anansesem — or spider tales." Elsewhere they have other names, for instance Ananse-Tori in Suriname, Nansi in Guyana, and Kuent'i Nanzi in Curaçao…
One of the times Anansi himself was tricked was when he tried to fight a tar baby after trying to steal food, but became stuck to it instead. It is a tale well known from a version involving Br'er Rabbit, found in the Uncle Remus stories and adapted and used in the 1946 live-action/animated Walt Disney movie Song of the South. These were derived from African-American folktales in the Southern United States, that had part of their origin in African folktales preserved in oral storytelling by African-Americans. Elements of the African Anansi tale were combined by African-American storytellers with elements from Native American tales, such as the Cherokee story of the "Tar Wolf", which had a similar theme, but often had a trickster rabbit as a protagonist…
[Editorial Note: trickster rabbit are also familiar characters in Nigerian and other African cultures, as well as in various South African cultures].
"Anansi is a culture hero, who acts on behalf of Nyame, his father and the sky god. He brings rain to stop fires and performs other duties for him. His mother is Asase Ya. There are several mentions of Anansi's children, the first son often being named as Ntikuma. According to some stories his wife is known as Miss Anansi or Mistress Anansi but most commonly as Aso. He is depicted as a spider, a human, or combinations thereof.
In some beliefs, Anansi is responsible for creating the sun, the stars and the moon, as well as teaching mankind the techniques of agriculture…
Annancy or Anancy (Jamaica, Grenada, Costa Rica, Colombia, Nicaragua)
Anansi Drew (The Bahamas)
Aunt Nancy (In South Carolina, Aunt Nancy is sometimes used as folk name for the spider, because the term is the Americanized version of Anansi).
Cha Nanzi (Aruba)"
Additional meanings of Anansi & other trickster "animals": the ability of a less physically powerful being to use his mind (wit) and thus win out over one who is more physically powerful.
In the Caribbean (and among the Akan?) Anansi stories also demonstrated the intermingling of stories, song, riddles, and games.
Other online resources:
Cynthia James (2004) (Word Document). Searching for Ananse: From Orature to Literature in the West Indian Children’s Folk Tradition--Jamaican and Trinidadian Trends Trinidad University of the West Indes. University of West Indies June 30, 2011
Retrieved 2008-12-16. Still available 9/3/2011 [hyperlinked on Wikipedia page]
[about the marvel comic book character]
Includes cover photos of Anansi and one Anansi stories
SHOWCASE EXAMPLE OF ANANSI (ANANCY) FOLKTALESThere are a nuq Numerous YouTube videos including
Anansi and the Pot of Wisdom
Jigvideo111's channel, Uploaded on Mar 3, 2011
West African Fable produced by J.I.G. Video Productions in Milton ON Canada
This example was added on April 19, 2016 because the previously embedded example is no longer available.
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