topic posted Sat, August 25, 2007 - 10:34 PM by  Unsubscribed

is one of the most important gods of West African lore.
Anansi and Mrs. Guineafowl

He is a trickster and a culture hero, who acts on behalf of Nyame (his father, the sky god) and brings rain to stop fires and performs other duties for him. His mother is Asase Ya. There are several mentions of Anansi's children. According to some myths his wife is known as Miss Anansi or Mistress Anansi but most commonly as Aso.

He is depicted in numerous forms: a spider, a human, or combinations thereof.

The Anansi legends are believed to have originated in the Ashanti tribe. 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. Anansi stories originated in Ghana, in Africa. The word Anansi is Akan and means spider.


Anansi stories are known as Anansesem to the Ashanti and Anansi-Tori in Suriname.

In some beliefs, Anansi created the sun, stars and the moon, as well as teaching mankind the skills involved in agriculture. Another story tells of how Anansi tried to hoard all of the world's wisdom in a calabash. In the end he realizes the futility of trying to keep all the wisdom to himself, and released it.

Most cultures that have Anansi folktales also have the story of how Anansi became King of All Stories, not just his own. In the original Ashanti version of this story, Anansi approaches Nyame, the Sky God, with the request that he be named King of All Stories. Nyame then tells Anansi that if he can catch The Jaguar With Teeth Like Daggers, The Hornets Who Sting Like Fire, and The Fairy Whom Men Never See, he will be King of Stories. Anansi agrees, despite Nyame's doubt that he can do it. Anansi then tricks the jaguar, who intends to eat him, into playing a game that allows Anansi to tie him up. He tricks the hornets by pretending that it is raining, and telling them to hide in a calabash. He tricks the fairy with the gum/tar baby trick told below. He then takes them to Nyame and becomes King of All Stories. Other versions, notably Caribbean variations, of this story involve Anansi getting Snake for Lion/Tiger.
Anansi and Bro' Bull
Anansi and Bro' Bull

The only time Anansi himself was tricked, was when he tried to fight a tar baby after trying to steal food, but became stuck to it instead. The "tar-baby" tale appears in a variety of ethnic African folklore contexts. It is best known from the Brer Rabbit version, found in the Uncle Remus stories. These were derived from African-American folktales in the Southern United States. Ultimately this version was adapted and used in the 1946 live-action/animated Walt Disney movie Song of the South.

Other names

* Anancy (Jamaica, Grenada)
* Anancyi
* Ananse
* 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).
* Hanansi
* Compé Anansi
* Kweku Anansi (Akan)
* Nansi

[edit] In popular culture

[edit] Modern fiction

* Anansi ("Mister Nancy") appears in two Neil Gaiman novels, American Gods and Anansi Boys.
* Aunt Nancy, based on Anansi, is a character in the Charles de Lint novel Forests of the Heart.
* Anansi appears as King of the Spiders in the China Miéville novel King Rat.
* The Anansi tale "The Mossy Rock" appears in A Book of Sorcerers and Spells, by Ruth Manning-Sanders.
* The Anansi tale "Gar-room!" appears in Tortoise Tales, by Ruth Manning-Sanders.
* Anansi is the name of a space shuttle involved in a super-strong cable project in The Descent of Anansi by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes.
* Brer Anansi Books By David P. Makhanlall.

[edit] Comic books

* Stories about Anansi have been mentioned in Spider-Man story arcs by J. Michael Straczynski. Anansi seems to have had a hand in Spider-Man's rebirth and the creation of The Other.
* Anansi appears in the Hellblazer comic book spin-off Papa Midnite as a trickster god instigating a revolt by black slaves during the Civil War.
* Anansi is a superhero mentioned (but not yet seen) in the Astro City comic series by Kurt Busiek.
* A blending of the stories of Anansi and Spider-man is used to create Spider-Man Fairy Tales.

[edit] Film and television

* The Magic of Anansi, an animated short for children from the National Film Board of Canada. [1]
* Anansi appears in two episodes of Disney animated series, Gargoyles.
* Anansi the Spider is a superhero in the Static Shock animated series.
* Anansi is the hero of Gerald McDermott's animated film and Caldecott honor book, Anansi the Spider.

[edit] Music

* The children's singer, Raffi, sings a song called "Anansi" which is found on The Singable Songs Collection.
* The British band Skunk Anansie took their name from Anansi, with "Skunk" added to give it edge.

[edit] Visual art

* Anansi appears in a painting by Myrea Pettit, Anansi and Sweep.

[edit] Games

* A race of were-spiders known as the Ananasi inhabit the world of Werewolf: The Apocalypse; they worship Queen Ananasa as an ancestor-deity. One of the earliest heroes of their lore is a werespider named Anansi, whom they believe to be the inspiration for the African folk character.
* Anansi also appears as a spider like monster called Anansi's Adherent in the MMORPG Anarchy Online. There are also a set of boss monsters in the Inferno Zone named after various limbs of the body such as Anansi's Left Hand.

[edit] External links

* How Anansi Became A Spider
* Jamaica Anansi Stories
* Aunt Nancy
* Anansi and Sweep
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