Myth-Folklore Unit: Jamaica Anansi Stories

Overview. The trickster Spider Anansi is a famous folklore figure in West Africa, and slaves abducted from West Africa brought the stories of Anansi with them to the Americas. This book of Jamaica Anansi Stories contains stories collected in Jamaica during the early years of the 20th century by Martha Warren Beckwith, a professor of folklore and well-known ethnographer. Beckwith records the stories in dialect as told to her by Jamaican storytellers. My advice: read the stories out loud so that you can get a sense of that oral storytelling experience! For example, here is the beginning of the story about Brother Anansi stealing mangos from Brother Tiger: "Brer Tiger got a mango-tree in his place. Brer Nansi go an' ask if he could sell him a ha' penny wort' of mango. Brer Tiger say no." As you can imagine, Anansi is not someone who takes no for an answer!

Language. These stories are told in a Jamaican dialect of English, which is a dialect you might not be familiar with. I have tried to gloss the difficult words, and you do not need to understand every word to enjoy these wonderful stories, but be sure to take a look at the stories first to see what you think of the dialect.

Story Length. These are all single-page stories; some of them are very short stories, so that you will find two separate stories on a single page.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Jamaican Anansi Stories. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

  1. Tying Tiger
  2. The Gub-Gub Peas
  3. Tiger as Riding-Horse
  4. Tiger Catching the Sheep-Thief
  5. Tiger's Breakfast / Tiger's Bone-Hole
  6. Eggs and Scorpions / The Christening
  7. Eating Tiger's Guts / Monkey and Anansi
  8. Sheep and Anansi / Rabbit and Anansi
  9. New Names
  10. Long-Shirt
  11. Shut Up in the Pot / House in the Air
  1. Goat on the Hill-Side / The Duckano Tree
  2. Anansi and the Tar-Baby / The Yam-Hills
  3. Guinea-Chick / Horse and Anansi
  4. Anansi in Monkey Country / The Fishes
  5. Anansi, White-Belly and Fish
  6. The Rain / Fire and Anansi
  7. Spider Marries Monkey's Daughter
  8. The Chain of Victims
  9. Tumble-Bug Rolls and John-Crow
  10. Anansi and the Pig Coming from Market

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