Anansi is one of the most important and famous gods of west African lore. He is a trickster and a culture hero, who acts on behalf of Nyame (his father, the sky god) and brings rain to stop fires and performing other duties for him. His mother is Asase Ya . There are several mentions of Anansi's children. According to some myths his wife is known as Miss Anansi or Mistress Anansi. Eventually, Anansi was replaced by a chameleon.
He is depicted in numerous forms: a spider, a human or combinations thereof.
The Anansi legends are believed to have originated in the Ashanti tribe. They later spread to other Akan groups and then to Jamaica and Suriname.
In some beliefs, Anansi created the sun, stars and the moon. He created the first man, but Nyame actually made him come to life. He taught mankind agriculture.
Another story tells of how Anansi tried to hoard all of the world's wisdom in a calabash. In the end he realizes the futility of trying to keep all the wisdom to himself.
The only time Anansi himself was tricked when he tried to fight a tar baby/wax girl after trying to steal food, but became stuck to it instead.
Anansi stories are known as Anansasem to the Ashanti and Anansi-Tori in Suriname.
- Anancy (Jamaica)
- Aunt Nancy
- Kwaku Anansi (Akan)
In modern fiction
Anansi appears in two Neil Gaiman novels, American Gods and Anansi Boys.
Anansi the Spider is a superhero in the Static Shock animated series.
The "tar-baby" tale was adapted and used in the 1946 animated Walt Disney movie Song of the South. In this Disney version, the trickster god Anansi is replaced by the animated character Brer Rabbit.