Anansi : The Trickster God
At a glance
|Family Members||Aso (Wife)|
|Associated With||Trickery, Shapeshifting|
Anansi is a folktale character that has a spider-like shape. He is often considered to be a god of knowledge. He is also known to play trickster, which is a role originated from West Africa. The character is a trickster who is known for his ability to defeat powerful opponents through his creativity and smarts. Despite taking on the role of a trickster, he is often regarded as the protagonist due to his actions. Spider tales are commonly found in West Africa, but the Anansi tales originated from Ghana. They later spread to other countries, including the Netherlands Antilles and West Indies.
Anansi is often portrayed in various ways, with various names and iterations, such as “Anancy” or “Ananse”. While often portrayed as an animal, he has many representations, including being anthropomorphized as a spider with a human face, or conversely, a human with spider-like features, such as eight legs.
Anansi has a family in several folktales. His wife, Okonore Yaa, is known in other regions as Aso, Crooky or Shi Maria, while his other kids are Ntikuma, Tikelenkelen with the big head, Nankonhwea with the spindly legs, and Afudohwedohwe with the pot belly. He also has a daughter named Anansewa in some of his tales.
Bru Nansi (Virgin Islands), Annancy or Anancy (Jamaica, Grenada, Costa Rica, Colombia, Nicaragua), Anansi (Trinidad and Tobago), Anansi Drew (The Bahamas), Aunt Nancy (South Carolina), Kompa Nanzi (Aruba), Kompa Nanzi (Curaçao, Bonaire), Kwaku Anansi (Akanland), Ba Anansi (Suriname), Gede Zariyen, Zarenyen, or Ti Malice (Haiti), Bra Anansi, Nansi or bra spaida (Jamaica, Sierra Leone) and Ba Yentay (South Carolina).
Powers and Abilities
Anansi is often depicted in folklore as a participant in rituals performed by various deities, who often bestow him with supernatural powers. Some traditions even portray him as the son of the Earth’s Mother. In other cultures, he is sometimes referred to as a lesser deity.
Although he is often regarded as a prophet in Akan spirituality, his followers do not recognize him as such. Instead, they honor him as a healer, a symbol of wisdom and a creator of the first human body.
Instead of being a symbol of resistance, he was often regarded as a symbol of survival. This is because he used his cunning and trickery to turn the tables on his oppressors. Stories of Anansi helped enslaved Africans establish a sense of continuity within their lives, which allowed them to assert their identity within the confines of captivity.
Modern Day Influence
Stories of Anansi were exclusively part of an oral tradition, and he was regarded as having the most wisdom and skill in speech. This tradition eventually encompassed various kinds of fables, and tales were also introduced to the rest of the world through the slaves who were brought to the New World by the Atlantic slave trade.
As Jamaica had the largest concentration of enslaved Ashanti in the Americas, they tend to have much better documented stories and proverbs. He was referred to as “Kwaku Anansi” even during times of slavery. This is because the Akan word for Anansi is “Kwaku.” Anansi’s role in the lives of Africans go far beyond slavery. He has also evolved into a character who is regarded as a classical hero.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Anansi good or evil?
Anansi is often classified as an trickster with no outright bad intentions towards his victims. His activities are usually geared towards the betterment of many at the expense of a few.
What god is Anansi?
Anansi is a god from African mythology and the Akan people in particular. According to mythology, Anansi is a trickster god who uses his skills to trick other animals.
What is Anansi's weakness?
Anansi often gets himself into trouble for being too clever, lazy, or greedy and these are moral lessons to be learned from his story while other trickster tales are typically used to entertain.
Who is Anansi's wife?
Some myths tell us about Anansi’s wife who can also take the form of a spider and is named Aso.