The Jamaican Anansi Spider

I found a spider today, and because of it’s large, “whitish”,  enlarged abdomen, they said it could be the Anansi spider; but it is not. Jamaican spiderI do not know what specie of Jamaican spider this is, but it is not the Anansi spider because Anansi is an African folktale character; he is not a real spider. A real spider can be seen in the two pictures below.Jamaican spider Jamaican spiderStories of the Jamaican Anansi spider are told to many children across our island; and in my childhood, we heard and made up many tales about the Anansi spider.

This spider – the hero in all the stories,  is called “brother Anansi” (i.e. br’er Anansi). In the stories, he outwitted everyone, tricked people, and overcame every form of obstacle set by brother rabbit, brother dog, sister cat, and other animal characters. Brother Anansi always used his cunning to get whatever he wanted – from his morning breakfast, money to spend, and even a place to rest his head at nights. I guess today, we in Jamaica would call him a “Scammer”.When I checked Wikipedia about the Anansi spider, I discovered that this character is actually a spirit taking on the form of a spider, or the form of a spider with human characteristics. What I found interesting however, was that further research stated that the spider symbol is actually feminine – associated with creativity and cunning . . . yet the Jamaican Anansi spider is depicted as male. Hmm?

My question now is this: Is the Jamaican Anansi spider spirit a demon?
I think it is.

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2 thoughts on “The Jamaican Anansi Spider

  1. I just came back from Jamaica yesterday and am fortunate to say I have seen this Anansi with my own two eyes! I went an agriculture high school and growing up as a child, bugs were basically family members. Times were rough and the screens in our windows were not always there.

    Anyways, while having a smoke in the BEAUTIFULLY arranged smoking area of the resort, familiarizing myself with the habitat was intriguing. Ya Mon! To my surprise, I noticed a weird habitat. So I called over Mouriece the ground keeper and asked him about it.

    There was a small black spider looking ball centered in the middle of a spider web. The “spider” was roughly 0.5 cm large and the web was only the size of a hand. Mouriece quickly and clearly assured my that what I was looking at was an Anansi. Without hesitation, he picked him up in his hand and squeezed him into a trapped position.

    The amazing thing about this creature was he actually seemed to have a shell on his back, and had either two or four “crab” type legs that he uses for all his adventure. He was jet black and extremely equipped with spider crab abilities.

    The best part of the story is, directly behind this Anansi and it’s web was a tiny little spider. It almost looked like the Anansi stole the tiny spiders web. Mouriece did not budge on his story that the whole resort had No spiders at all. He ensured me that they periodically spray to eliminate spiders. But I know what I saw, and the two were living very close together. It was almost like a team. I wish I took a picture, but I thought the information was readily available regarding this Anansi. I can’t forget to mention Mouriece indicated, “Thats what we callan Anansi”. After Google search results yielded no images, the experience really captured my interest and I began to ponder how this creature came about. In glad I noticed that tiny spider mirroring the Anansi, perhaps it shines some light on this bug. Mouriece said it acts like a spider.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Gary, and I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to our island.

      Well if I should tell you the amount of Anansi spiders I’ve heard about and seen, you would laugh. Over the years, I have come to realize that most Jamaicans call every unidentifiable and unknown spider “Anansi”. And if you should search the Internet for the image of the spider you saw (i.e. the image of the spider that is embedded in your memory); you will most definitely find that the actual spider you saw has already been named, identified, and belong to a specie that is most definitely not called Anansi.

      Anansi is just a misnomer for all strange, mysterious, scary-looking spider in Jamaica. In reality, the Anansi spider, like Santa Claus, is just a myth.

      One love!

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