Caribbean folklore Part 1:

Folklore are the traditional beliefs which explain the traditional customs, local beliefs and practices of a people.  They are handed down through generations usually via the oral tradition. Folklore normally comprises the presence of unique characters, and but can include music, stories, history, legends, and myths. The characters are sometimes unusual in appearance, with inexplicable abilities, but together with all the other components, that are specific to the history of that people, makes the rendering or the narrative “folklore”. All peoples throughout the world have folklore, and it serves as the basis for commonplace life lessons and explanations about why things are the way they are.

Because the Caribbean is multi-ethnic, we are fortunate to have a very diverse and rich backdrop to our folklore.  Our folklore has been handed down to us by our ancestors some of whom were indigenous people and those who came, bringing their folklore with them. Together, Caribbean peoples created their own folklore that became part of our collective cultural heritage. Folklore is timeless as no one can never grow too old for them.

Our folklore although based in the Caribbean, is part of our ancestral lands – Africa, India, Europe, wider Asia, Middle East, and the Americas. Here, we take a look at some of the folklore characters and encourage you to come to the NALIS’ Heritage Library Division or visit our Facebook page to learn about those with whom you may not be familiar.

Come visit us at the Heritage Library Division, NALIS, or see our FB page:  to learn more about other characters such as: 

  • Soucouyants
  • Anansi / Kwaku Anansi / Brer Anansi / Bo Nancy
  • Raakhas
  • Carriacou “Co co-mar”
  • Douens / Duennes
  • Lagahoo

Authored by: Michelle Garcia de Armesto, Librarian IV, Heritage Library Division


Chauharjasingh, Archibald S. A dictionary of Trinidad and Tobago folklore. A.S. Chauharjasingh, 2009.

Alladin, Mohammed Pharouk.  Folk stories and legends of Trinidad. M.P. Alladin, 1968. 

Besson, Gerard A. Folklore and legends of Trinidad & Tobago. Paria Publishing, 1989.

David, Christine. Folklore of Carriacou. Coles Printery Limited, 1985.

Elder, J.D. “Folk song and folk life in Charlotteville: aspects of village life as dynamics of acculturation in a Tobago Fold Song Tradition.” Paper prepared for Twenty-First Conference of the International Folk Music Council, Kingston, August 23 to September 3, 1971. 

Mahabir, Kumar. Indian Caribbean folklore spirits. Chakra Publishing House, 2010.

Makhanlall, David P. The best of Brer Anansi. Blackie, 1973.

Ottley, Carlton R. Tobago legends and West Indian lore. "Daily Chronicles", 1950?

Ottley, Carlton R. Legends: true stories and old sayings from Trinidad and Tobago. The College Press, 1962.

Rajpaulsingh, David. The chronicles of Kairi : Vol. 1: The gateway moon. 2022.

Seunarine, Lance. Stories meh Moddha told meh. Port Ewen, N.Y. [1998?]


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