Adela,  Africa,  Asia

Anansi the spider god

Spider mask about 150 years old (Google images)
Spider mask about 150 years old (Google images)

The Ashanti people of Ghana began the Anansesem (spider tales) about the presence of a spider god and gradually those stories spread across Ghana and then all around West Africa.

Anansi is depicted in many different ways. Sometimes he looks like an ordinary spider, sometimes he is a spider wearing clothes or with a human face and sometimes he looks much more like a human with spider elements, such as eight legs.

West Africans originally considered Anansi to be the creator of the world. He often acted as a go-between for humans in their dealings with the sky god Nyame, and he supposedly persuaded Nyame to give both rain and the night to people.

Anansi is one of the most popular of the animal tricksters in the mythology of West Africa, and is often called Kwaku or Kweku Ananse. Kweku means Wednesday, the day the spider-god’s soul first appeared. In some stories Anansi is the son of Nyame, the sky god, who becomes so annoyed with his son’s mischief and trickery that he turns him into a spider.

As the stories spread across the sea to the West Indies, the tales became the Nancy stories and then became Aunt Nancy in the Southern United States, half spider, half woman who had power over the other creatures.