Jamaican Stories

Week 8: African Traditions - Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

Houses in the Air

Reading time: 5 minutes. Word Count: 500 words

Here is a pair of similar stories - in one version, Anansi's rival is the devil, called "Duppy". In the other version, his rival is the crow - and it turns into an etymology for why the crow is bald (although we are more used to talking about bald eagles than about bald crows!).

Duppy's House [Devil's House] (Harold Tulloch, Queen Anne's Bay)

Once Brer Duppy make his house in de air. So he have a sling to sling down himself every morning, an' as soon as he' come down he say to de sling, "Go up, me chin-chin, go up!" So Bredder Nansi come to find out Duppy house, an' he was wondering how to get up in dis house, so he dodge one side in de evening. An' when Bredder Duppy come he said, "Come down, me chin-chin, come down!" an' it came right down. He get in an' said, "Go up, me chin-chin, go up!" an' it go right up. By dis time Anansi was listening. Nex' morning, as soon as Bredder Duppy move off about a mile, Bredder Nansi went right up an' said, "Come down, me chin-chin, come down!" an' it came down. Den Bredder Nansi get in it and said, "Go up, me chin-chin, go up!"

After he went up, he search de house an' eat off all what he found in de house. He want to come down now, but he couldn't remember de name. So he lay off dere until de duppy come catch him in de house. Brer Duppy said to him, "Lawd! Brer Anansi, what you doin' up heah?" He said, "Brer Duppy, was jus' goin' up a-top heah to look fe me family, win' ketch me on de way an I' stop heah." An' Bredder Duppy tak some boiling water an' t'row on him an' he was dead.

Carencro's House with a Key (Richard Morgan, Santa Cruz Mountains)

Kyan-crow got a house. De libber de key to de house. When him gwine out den ca' out, "Libber me yum yum!" Ev'ry door shut up. Hanansi stan' aside saw; when him gone, him go up said, "Libber me yum yum!" de door open. An' get inside. As him go in he say, "Libber me yum yum!" de door shet. De fust t'ing him do, him eat de libber so den when Brar Kyan-crow come an' ca' out, "Libber me yum yum!" do' kyan't open. An' say, "Somet'ing de matter a me house t'-day!", When den get little crebbice a de windah gwine in at de house, den didn't see de key at all. Well, Hanansi run out, an' him ketch Hanansi.

Hanansi say, "Brar Kyan-crow, you know you do? You no lob dance? I wi' play fe you!" Kyan-crow say all right. Hanansi say, "But me banjo kyan' play widout hot water." When dey goin' along hall, when de banjo playin' "Ba cimba cimba," Hanansi say, "All right, Brar Kyan-crow, turn back-way come." He tak de packey, he dippy up full of de hot water an' say, "All right, Brar Kyan-crow, dance come now!" As Kyan-crow come, he meet him wid de packey hot water. Kyan-crow tumble down. So from dat day every Kyan-crow got peel-head.

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • how did Anansi get up into the Devil's House? what happened to him there?
  • how did Anansi get into Crow's house? why couldn't Crow get in?
  • how did Anansi trick the Crow and hurt him?

Source: Jamaica Anansi Stories by Martha Warren Beckwith (1924). Weblink.

Modern Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:52 PM