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Anansi Illustration 1

Anansi as illustrated by Gerald McDermott

Anansi is one of the famous important figures in West African mythology. He is depicted with the elements of a spider and likes to bring stories to children. "Anansi" means "spider" in African language. Anansi is also the father of spiders. His full name is "Kwaku Anansi".

Note: Anansi from "Gargoyles" does not count as a protagonist. Instead, he is an antagonist who turns people into panthers.

Anansi can be considered one of the central trickster-heroes of mythology, who in turn helped fashion folkloric tricksters such as Br'er Rabbit - like Anansi these trickster-heroes are clever, sometimes mischievious but ready to avenge misdeeds or punish evil-doers.

Myth

Anansi Brings Stories to the World

Anansi sat on his webbing at night and watched the children restless around the campfire. Anansi had an idea; he decided to bring stories to them. However, all the stories are locked up in a wooden box by the sky-god Nyame. Anansi spun one of his silken thread and ascended to heaven and met Nyame. He asked him, "I wish to have your box of stories and take it back to the people; what is your price?" Nyame said that no one is able to buy his box.

Anansi makes a request to pay, and Nyame gave him a request. The four important individuals to give are Onini, the python who could swallow a goat, Osebo, the leopard with the teeth as sharp as spears, Mmboro, the hornet whose stingers are painful as red hot needles, and Mmoatia, the bad-tempered fairy that no one can see. If Anansi brought all four what Nyame said, the god will open his box to bring all the stories.

After a talk with Nyame, Anansi came down from heaven and knew many creatures that are dangerous to his life. He shared the problem with his wife Aso and made a plan to capture Onini the python. The next morning, he came up with a big palm stick and approached the water hole. Thereupon, he sees Onini on the branch he is holding.

Onini gave Anansi to request to put his stick down to see who is right. The python was having a hard time keeping his coils stretched out straight and did not seem to measure the full length. Anansi tied up the malicious python with his silk on the stick, delivering him to Nyame.

Anansi came down again to think of a plan with his wife very hard to capture Osebo, the leopard with teeth as sharp as spears. He searched the forest again and found a route where the leopards took every night to the water hole. Anansi dug a big deep hole in order to find a suitable place to prevent leopards from escaping. Anansi covered the hole with dirt, leaves, and earth when satisfied.

The next day, Osebo came to the big hole and fell in it. Osebo was worried and Anansi wouldn't let him out at first. Osebo promised that he wouldn't eat him and his wife if Anansi tried to help. Anansi took the willow tree in which he spotted yesterday, pulled its top to reach the big hole, spun some very sticky silk, and Osebo tied it on his tail. Osebo is completely tangled up in spider web after spinning into the air and landing on the ground. Anansi took the tied up leopard to Nyame.

Anansi came down again to meet his wife. The spiders made a plan to trap Mmoboro, the hornet whose stinger is painful as red hot needles. They emptied a calabash and then filling it with water. Anansi cut off a large plantain leaf and took it to the full gourd behind a hornet nest. Anansi poured water on his head. Then, he poured water into the nest. Anansi grabbed the plantain leaf as Mmboro and his hornets are very angry. The hornets enter the calabash, as Anansi put the leaf on the top of the gourd, and sealed it with his sticky silk. Anansi brought the calabash up to heaven in which the hornets are nesting. The calabash was delivered to Nyame.

Anansi came down from heaven once again and had a brief discussion with his wife. They made a plan to capture Mmoatia, the bad-tempered fairy that no one can see. Anansi made a doll by carving wood of gum tree, then putting sticky gum on the tree. Aso pounded yams into a paste with eggs and oil to make "ano", a food which is loved by fairies. Anansi went to the fairies' territory; then he put the doll and the dish of yams beside it. He spun a thread from the doll's head to his hiding place at the tree. Anansi started to use the doll.

That evening, an invisible fairy requested the doll to give her some of its yam. Anansi imitated the child who is nodding her head and Mmoatia started eating the yam. Mmoatia was pleased for all the yam the doll gave. Mmoatia was very angry after eating all of the yams. She attacked the doll's head after Anansi was deaf. When she attacks the doll's head, Mmoatia is stuck on the doll. The doll rolled as Mmoatia was attempting to get out. Anansi came out of his hiding place and tied up the doll in which Mmoatia is stuck. Anansi delivered the gum doll to Nyame.

Nyame was pleased for capturing all the four individuals. He opened up his box and gave Anansi all of the stories.

Anansi the Spider

Anansi is the main protagonist of the book by Gerald McDermott and the film adaptation of the same name. This depiction has six spiders. Anansi had traveled far from his home, but was into trouble. He was first eaten by a fish. One son started drinking the river and the other shed the fish's skin. Anansi was rescued by the son who shed the skin.

More trouble came once Anansi was captured by a falcon. One of his sons threw a stone at the falcon, which freed him from danger.

That night, a great globe of light is seen in the forest. Anansi would claim it as a prize to one of his rescuers, but is not sure who would have it. Soon, he asks Nyame (the God of All Things) to give it to which son who saved him.

None of the sons could decide to have the prize. The God of All Things put it up in the sky for Anansi and his sons to see. Anansi and his sons saw the globe of light in the sky.

Adoptions

Anansi is shown in at least one Disney book, published by Little Golden Book. He appears in the book, "The Lion King: The Cave Monster". Simba and Nala thought there was a hostile monster, but it is actually Anansi.

External Links

  • Anansi on Villains Wiki (from Gargoyles, where he is a malicious trickster rather than his usual role as a trickster-hero)
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