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Please be sure that students only use their initials to sign their individual or small group work, for Internet safety! Experiencing Trickster Tales Trickster Tales are folktales with a specific story arc and set of characters - a cunning Trickster, someone who is easily fooled, something the Trickster wants to possess, the Trickster being ultimately tricked, and so on.
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Instructions for Students - Experiencing Trickster Tales Story traditions in many lands include Trickster Tales, where a sneaky trickster tries to outwit someone who is easily fooled - but usually the trickster gets caught! Akwasi, however, refused to call the Spider by the name he'd been given, so Anansi remained silent; the medicine Anansi'd poisoned Akwasi-the-jealous-one with had worked.
Akwasi tried another time, but refused to call Anansi by the name he'd given him again, so Anansi did not answer him. Eventually, Akwasi succumbed and finally pleaded "Rise-up-and-make-love-to-Aso," falling for Anansi's scheme. Anansi responded to Akwasi-the-jealous-one and opened his door, asking Akwasi what troubled him.
Akwasi said that he needed to leave for a moment, and then left. Once Akwasi-the-jealous-one was gone, the Spider went into the man's room and saw Aso was awake. Anansi asked her if she'd heard what Akwasi had said, and she instead asked him to tell her. Thus Anansi repeated the name he'd given to them, implying that he was to make love to her.
Aso accepted Anansi's answer and the two made love, going back to sleep once they finished. Akwasi-the-jealous-one returned, completely unaware of what had happened, and soon went to sleep as well. However, his stomach would trouble him again and he'd call Anansi out for help using the same name Anansi had given him.
Akwasi-the-jealous-one would leave while Anansi snuck into their bedroom to make love with Aso, for a total of nine times before morning came. Anansi left Akwasi's village when the next day arrived and did not return. Two moons eventually passed and Aso's pregnancy became visible. Akwasi-the-jealous-one asked his wife how she'd gotten pregnant, because he was sterile and could not sire children with her.
Aso told Akwasi that he in fact had told her to make love to Anansi, explaining that the child she'd conceived was his. Akwasi thus decided to take her to Nyame's village and the two left. However, Aso gave birth on the way, so she rested a moment. The two took the child to the village of Nyame afterward and told him what had taken place. Nyame did not believe the two's story and said that no one had left his village, urging them to point out the culprit among the villagers.source
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Aso agreed to do so and soon saw Anansi sitting on a ridgepole in the distance. She pointed to Anansi and told Nyame that he was the one who'd impregnated her. He moved further down on the ridgepole in an attempt to hide again, but Aso found him there. However, this caused Anansi to fall over, dirtying himself, and in return Anansi complained that their actions had defiled him, for he was Nyame's Soul-washer and Nyame's wishes had been ignored.
As a result, Akwasi-the-jealous-one was seized by Nyame's subjects for disobeying the god's command and ordered to sacrifice a sheep as penance. Utterly embarrassed, Akwasi finished his sacrifice and then told the Sky-Father that Anansi could have Aso, giving her to the Spider to become his wife. Yet there was another cost for what had transpired: the child Anansi had sired through Aso was taken and killed; what remained of its body was scattered throughout Nyame's village as a reminder.
So it is that Aso became Anansi's wife, and jealousy came into the tribe. Sometime after they were married, it is said Kwaku Anansi the Spider and his wife Aso were living together. Anansi approached the messenger and asked him why he'd come, and the man responded that Anansi's mother-in-law had died the previous day.
In response Anansi told his wife Aso what had taken place, and told Aso that they would go to the village to mourn her mother, as the funeral would take place within a few days. Soon the messenger left, and the next morning came. Anansi told them of his mother-in-law's passing and asked if they could accompany him to her funeral, and they agreed.
Anansi thanked them, and then returned to his home to prepare. Anansi made clothes to wear to the funeral, sewing a hat from leopard's skin; he dyed his cloth russet, and had the attire he wished to wear prepared. Thursday eventually came and it was time to head out toward the village where the funeral of Aso's mother would take place. He called those who'd agreed to accompany him, and they left the village, but not without supplies - guns, drums, palm-wine , and other things first so they would have things to share with the rest of those who attended as they celebrated his mother-in-law's memory.
Soon, Anansi reached his mother-in-law's village and fired their guns in the air to signal they had arrived, and went to the home where her wake was taking place. Anansi shared all that he'd brought, giving palm-wine to those mourning. He then presented an offering to help pay for the funeral: six peredwan packets of gold dust, a velvet pillow, two cloths, a wool blanket, shell money to barter with ghosts , a sheep, and more palm-wine.
They accepted his offer, and the others matched it. The next morning, everyone ate and invited Anansi to eat as well. However, Anansi said that he was not allowed to, as it was his mother-in-law's funeral and he would not eat until the eighth day. Instead, Anansi said he'd gather some for his neighbors who'd accompanied him and remain while they left.
True to his word, Anansi asked Aso to find them food and she brought it to them. Anansi bade them farewell, and he remained at the home. Days passed and he resisted eating, but when the fourth day came, he was too hungry to resist eating, and went to search for food inside the home where he was staying. He went into the kitchen and saw that there was a fire going, and at that fire there were beans boiling in a pot.
Anansi decided he would eat those, so he took his leopard hat and scooped some of the beans inside once he was sure no one was watching him. However, just as soon as he placed on his hat to hide the beans, he saw Aso enter the room. Startled, Anansi hatched up another plan and told Aso that a hat-shaking festival was taking place in his father's village; he intended to go there himself.
Aso became suspicious and asked Anansi why he had not told her of the festival before; she reminded him that he had not eaten anything and advised the Spider to wait until the next day. However, Anansi refused to listen to his wife's advice and she stormed off. Aso gathered the people in the village and told them what Anansi was planning so they could hopefully keep him from leaving, and then headed back to her husband. Anansi saw Aso returning with the crowd and grabbed his hat, singing: "Just now at my father's village they are shaking hats!
Saworowa, they are shaking hats! E, they are shaking hats, o, they are shaking hats! Anansi left, but the villagers followed him, even when he told them to leave. In panic he sang again, "Turn back, because: Just now at my father's village they are shaking hats! Now, the beans were unbearably hot upon his head, so Anansi threw his hat with its beans away. When Aso realized what Anansi had done, she and the villagers booed him and he ran away down the road. He promised the road that he would thank it if it helped him escape, and it agreed to, leading him away from the villagers and to medicine he could use.
So it is that Anansi has a bald head, from the airs he gave himself during his mother-in-law's funeral. One day, Kwaku Anansi went to Okraman the Dog and told him he wished to build a new village to live in. Anansi would do the same, and the two would then meet together. Anansi told Okraman that he would gather a gourd and fill it with water and wished the Dog to do so also; the pair would have water in case their destination lacked it.
Okraman agreed again and the two both prepared once the Sunday Adae began; Anansi even put honey into his gourd for extra measure. Then, the two traveled the next Monday. Okraman and Anansi had reached the half-way point on their journey when the two became exhausted, and the Dog recommended they both rest for a moment and drink some of the water they'd prepared. Then, Anansi suggested that they play a game to pass the time while they rested.
Okraman asked the Spider which type of game he wished to play, and Anansi replied that he wished to play a binding game. Anansi then explained the rules of the game: Okraman would tie Anansi, and then Anansi would tie Okraman. Anansi would give Okraman a signal, and the Dog would try to escape his bindings. Okraman however wanted Anansi to tie him first. Anansi disagreed, scolding the Dog, and reminded Okraman that he was his elder, causing Okraman to accept Anansi's terms in their game.
Thus, the two began and Okraman tied Anansi first. However, Anansi did not know that Okraman was also hungry and had no true desire to play Anansi's game. Instead, the Dog bound Anansi and carried him away, hoping to sell the Spider for food. Once Anansi realized Okraman's plan, he began mourning, but the Dog paid him no mind, continuing to carry Anansi away until they both reached a stream. Soon, someone else noticed Anansi's cries and came to investigate them: Odenkyem the Crocodile.
He asked Okraman about the matter but the Dog was too frightened to respond. Instead, Okraman dropped Anansi and fled, while Odenkyem freed Anansi from his bindings. Anansi thanked the Crocodile and asked if there was a means he could repay him for his kindness, but Odenkyem said that he didn't want anything in return. Yet, Anansi was insistent and told Odenkyem that if he had children he would come and style them, dressing their hair so that they could be very beautiful.
Odenkyem accepted this, and did not suspect Anansi's deception. Anansi returned home after speaking to the Crocodile and told his wife Aso that he needed palm-nuts and onions for a stew he planned to make; he'd bring a crocodile back to supply meat for it. Aso did so, while Anansi gathered a knife, sharpening it. He mashed some eto, and carried it with him to the stream where Odenkyem lived. Next, Anansi called out to Odenkyem and told the Crocodile that he'd prepared a reward for him, sitting the eto in the water.
Odenkyem heard Anansi and soon came, ready to accept Anansi's gift. However, the Spider had tricked him; Anansi withdrew his knife and cut the Crocodile with it, but the blow he dealt to Odenkyem was not fatal; Anansi didn't realize this however, and left for home without a second thought. Aso noticed Anansi didn't have the crocodile he'd promised to bring home to prepare stew and asked him where it was, but Anansi became defensive, scolding his wife for bothering him when he'd just returned home. Aso however, saw through Anansi's attitude, and told her husband that she could tell he had not gotten Odenkyem like he'd planned.
Anansi could only remain silent, and said nothing else about the matter for the remainder of the evening. Morning began and Aso told Anansi she was going to the river. The Crocodile was still laying there when she arrived, and flies now surrounded him; Aso took note of this, and told Anansi what she'd observed when she returned to their home. Anansi explained to Aso that he'd used a special medicine to kill Odenkyem and thus had to wait until the next day before he collected his kill; he then thanked her for confirming the crocodile had died and set about for the stream on his own, with a stick he'd prepared for defense.
Anansi soon arrived and noticed Odenkyem was still laying in the riverbank. He carefully strode over to the Crocodile's body, poking him with his stick. Then, Anansi prodded Odenkyem's body and asked the Crocodile if he was dead, shifting his body over as he examined him, but Odenkyem did not respond. Little did Anansi know that the Crocodile may have been motionless, but he was far from deceased. Anansi eventually stopped prodding the Crocodile with his stick, convinced he was dead, and edged closer to Odenkyem's body, stretching his hand out to check the Crocodile a final time.
Yet, Anansi's action would prove to be a mistake, for he immediately found himself trapped between the Crocodile's jaws when he clasped the Spider unexpectedly. After a great contest between the two, Anansi wiggled himself free from Odenkyem and fled the river, rushing back home. So it is that Anansi always runs while crossing the water, careful to never give Odenkyem another chance to capture him again. It came about that Anansi became friends with Dew, and that they both helped each other develop their own crops. Anansi became very jealous of Dew and craved the corn that Dew had grown more than his own, so he decided he would trick Dew.
Anansi approached Dew and bragged, saying that his corn was better than Dew's, and suggested that Dew cut his corn so it would be as fine as his. Anansi promised Dew that if he cut his own crop, his corn would grow back and be the same quality as Anansi's corn was. Anansi however, was lying. Nonetheless, Dew fell for the Spider's schemes and agreed to cut his corn crop in the mistaken belief that his corn would grow again.
Later that evening, neighbors in their village saw Dew's corn had been cut down and wondered why he did so, noting that the corn he had was very fine once. They asked Dew who'd convinced him to cut down his corn crop, and he replied that Anansi had convinced him to do so, in the hopes that his corn crop would be better than it was before. The neighbors sighed and told Dew that he'd been tricked, for his corn would not grow again. This upset Dew, but he promised them that he would trick Anansi just as he had tricked him. Dew, however, would trick Anansi with his mother instead of with corn like Anansi had him.
As time passed, Dew worked especially hard and tirelessly to build up a large amount of wealth. He bought a scythe, hoe, axe, new clothes, and other equipment. Dew then told his mother his plan: he would tell Anansi that she had died and would then make a mock coffin in which to bury her. In the meanwhile, Dew wished for his mother to hide in their home upstairs while he prepared, so she did.
Dew then made a coffin and announced her death to the village, inviting them to come see her burial. Once they had arrived, he snuck his mother from upstairs and had her hide underneath the floor where the mock coffin lay, as well as the many things he'd purchased, as he knew Anansi's greed would spurn him to steal from Dew if he saw them laying around.
Now that the plan was in order, it was time for the mock burial to begin. Dew began to cry and lament that his mother had died so suddenly and left him nothing to remember her by, not even a single tool. On-cue, Dew's mother extended the scythe and other tools he'd purchased through the plank in the floor.
Anansi saw what was happening and grew jealous of Dew, wishing his very own mother was dead so he could get what Dew was getting from his own mother as well. Dew continued to mourn, and lamented that he longed for a blessing from her in the form of money, so Dew's mother took the money he had also given her alongside the equipment and threw it through the floor at him also.
Thus his display was successful, the burial they'd staged went well, and those who had come to mourn his mother's passing went back to their homes. Anansi's jealousy of Dew caused him to bicker with his own mother for days, on all matter of issues. Then, one day, they were arguing and the Spider asked his mother why she herself couldn't have died just like Dew's mother did. Soon, the arguments reached a climactic point and Anansi smote his own mother with a stick in a fit of rage.
Anansi's mother then died and he soon set about preparing for her burial just as Dew had before him. Then came time for the funeral, and Anansi cried just as Dew had, and told her all the things Dew had told his mother while grieving. Yet, nothing that he told his mother, no matter how much he cried, caused her to do the things that Dew's mother had done for her son. The funeral was a failure, so Anansi went ahead with his mother's burial.
About a week passed, and Dew had his mother come visit him while he worked outside in the fields. Anansi noticed Dew's mother had come and asked if the woman he saw was in fact her. Dew replied that it was his own mother, and that it was payback for Anansi deceiving Dew about his corn crops. Dew then bragged that he instead had tricked Anansi about his mother, rather than his corn, and such was true: Dew's mother was still alive, but Anansi's mother was now dead because of his own jealousy.
One morning, Anansi was very hungry and needed food for his children. Hunter did so and gave the Spider his gun, then Anansi set about to concoct a scheme to obtain food. He told the animals in the village that it was time for them to bury Gun, their arch-enemy, for Gun had died.
The animals knew Gun was very evil, for he had been killing many of them whenever he went through the bush. Thus when word of Gun's passing reached them, the animals all rejoiced, and agreed that they would come to celebrate Gun's death when Anansi buried him. While the animals gathered to meet at Gun's funeral, Anansi set a trap for them. Anansi made each of the animals pass in front of Gun's coffin during the funeral while he and his children claimed that they would carry Gun to be buried.
He pointed Gun at them all while they remained oblivious to his true plan. Soon, all those Anansi had called to the funeral were lined up in front of Gun's coffin, and Anansi then struck. Anansi began using Gun to kill each of the animals that had arrived, until none else were alive or able to escape.
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Anansi then took their meat when the deed was done, and was able to feed his family with it. Anansi went to the King one evening and asked him if he could become a preacher. The King entertained Anansi's offer and said that if he wished, he could preach the following Sunday. However, the King was busy that morning, and could not come to hear Anansi's sermon. The King thus told Anansi that he wished him to preach again the following Sunday, and he gave him a black suit that he wished for the Spider to wear when he did. It is said that Anansi lived beside Cockroach, and that between their homes was a fence that divided them.
In addition to this, was a coconut tree that grew in Cockroach's yard. However, it was a tree with branches covered in coconuts, some of which hung over the fence above Anansi's yard. Anansi saw them hanging on his side of the yard one day, and took a machete. He then cut the bunch of coconuts directly in half, and took the ones that hung on his side of the fence for himself.
Cockroach noticed this and took great offense at Anansi, asking him why he'd taken the fruit from his tree, as it clearly belonged to him. Anansi agreed that the tree belonged to Cockroach, but replied that the coconuts he'd cut down were hanging extremely low. The Spider explained that he only took the half that hung on his side, but Cockroach did not accept Anansi's excuse. He vowed to get even with Anansi for what he'd done. Soon, it was Saturday and Anansi would then have to preach before the King the next morning. Anansi asked his wife if she could clean his black suit so that it would be ready in time for the sermon, and she agreed.
His wife took the black suit the King had given him and then hung it outside to dry. Cockroach however, noticed this taking place, and saw that half of Anansi's suit hung above the fence separating his yard from Anansi's. Cockroach then took his own machete and, eager to enact vengeance Anansi for cutting his coconut fruit, cut the half of Anansi's suit that hung over his yard off. The next morning, it was time to preach but Anansi saw what had happened to his suit and was unable to meet the King and deliver his sermon.
The King thus did not get to hear Anansi preach at all and became very angry. In a fit, he had Anansi arrested and saw to it that the Spider was thrown into jail for offending him. Soon Anansi's time was served, and the next time he saw Cockroach again, the Spider told him that he would never forgive Cockroach for his treachery. He would never forget it for as long as he lived, for Cockroach's actions has cost him the job he wanted.
So it is that Anansi tried and failed to become a preacher, and Cockroach became Anansi's enemy. A long time ago, Death had no presence for he had not come to the cities yet. But a famine came one day and made Anansi very hungry, so he took Gun along with his hunting bag and decided to hunt for food.
Anansi searched throughout the bush, but soon found that there were no animals he could find in the bush to eat. Anansi however, did not give up. Instead, Anansi continued to venture deep within the bush, searching for animals to hunt, and stumbled upon the village that Death lived in, and Death was seated in front of its entrance.
Anansi did not want to offend Death, so he approached him and greeted him first. Anansi then told Death his plight, and noted that he had searched throughout the bush for an animal to kill for food, but had found none. Death told Anansi he could come into his village, and he would cook food for him.
Inside the village, Death brought Anansi to the house where meat was cooked, and Anansi saw that Death had a great amount. Anansi became enticed by all of the meat that Death was cooking, and saw that an enormous amount remained even after Death let the Spider have his fill of it to eat. Anansi thanked Death for his hospitality, but was still curious how Death had acquired such an impressive amount of meat, and asked him afterward.
Death asked Anansi if he didn't recognize who he was, and the Spider responded that he did, realizing why he had not been able to find meat in the bush; Death owned it all. Anansi thus asked Death for a favor, explaining that he had come to the bush so that he could find food for his family during the famine. Anansi wished to bring some meat back to them and asked for Death's permission to do so.
Death agreed, and gave Anansi meat that he could provide to his family. Anansi took the meat that Death gave him and returned from the bush to his village in the city, where he met his family again and told them of his discovery. He told his wife that he could go to visit Death and take meat when necessary.
However, Anansi's greed overcame him and he told her that he could even steal meat from Death. Thus, instead of asking like he had before, Anansi returned to Death's village while he was away and stole meat from him. Anansi's scheme would not last, for Death noticed that meat was missing from his village, although he did not know who'd stolen it. Death decided to wait in secret to see if he could discover who the thief was. Anansi came to Death's village one day, completely unaware that he was still present, and then gathered a large basket of meat from his stores as he normally did.
Death immediately surprised Anansi and asked him why he had chosen to steal from him, but Anansi was too afraid to answer his question. Instead, Anansi fled Death's village and Death soon chased after him. Try as he might, Anansi could not lose Death, no matter how fast he ran through the bush, and by the time Anansi had reached the city the Spider looked behind him and saw that Death was still close to reaching him.
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Anansi then cried out to the people that Death was coming, and that they should shut their doors if they wished to live. Yet, many people could not shut their doors in time, and Death took them. So it is that Death now lives in the city; had Anansi not stolen from him, Death would still remain quietly in the bush where no one could find it. Anansi shares similarities with the trickster figure of Br'er Rabbit , who originated from the folklore of the Bantu-speaking peoples of south and central Africa.
Enslaved Africans brought the Br'er Rabbit tales to the New World, which, like the Anansi stories, depict a physically small and vulnerable creature using his cunning intelligence to prevail over larger animals. The rabbit as a trickster is also in Akan versions as well and a Bantu origin doesn't have to be the main source, at least for the Caribbean where the Akan people are more dominant than in the U.
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. 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. The Native American trickster rabbit appears to have resonated with African-American story-tellers and was adopted as a cognate of the Anansi character with which they were familiar. Most of the other Br'er Rabbit stories originated with Cherokee or Algonquian myths.
Anansi is often depicted in popular tales interacting with the Supreme Being and other deities who frequently bestow him with temporary supernatural powers, such as the ability to bring rain or to have other duties performed for him. As Kwaku Anansi, he is sometimes also considered an Abosom lesser deity in Akan spirituality, despite being commonly recognized as a trickster. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page.
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May This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. January Learn how and when to remove this template message. Traditional African religion portal. Greenwood Publishing Group. A Treasury of African Folklore. Yen Ghana. Longman Publishing. Tales of an Ashanti Father.
Beacon Press. Trinidad University of the West Indes. Archived from the original Word Document on 5 January Retrieved 16 December JSTOR, www. Van Duin, Lieke. StudyGhana Foundation. Trinidad: University of the West Indies.
Archived PDF from the original on 10 December Retrieved 17 March Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti. Turtleback Books. Ladybird Books. Millbrook Press. A Story a Story. Topeka Bindery. Ananse Does the Impossible. Aladdin Paperbacks.
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