NALIS BLOG


CARIBBEAN FOLKLORE (PART 2)

In this our second section on Folklore we will look at some of the more popular characters. 

Gang Gang Sarie / Sarah

The Gang Gang Sarie or Sarah has several versions. 

One version associates the character’s story is the background of two tombs in Golden Lane, Les Coteaux, Tobago. The tombs are simply named “Tom” and the other “Sarah”. Tom was taken to Tobago as a slave to work on Grandfather Peter’s estate. His wife, Sarah  flew from Africa to Les Coteaux during a stormy night to join him. She reunited with Tom and became part of the household. In her old age, she wished to return to her home in Africa, but having eaten salt she no longer had the power to fly. She fell from the tree which she had climbed to launch her flight, died from her injuries and was interred next to Tom.

In the second version Sarah an African witch was blown off course to Tobago on a strong wind, and landed in the village of Les Coteaux. She decided to search for her family but when but when she decided to return to Africa, found that she had lost the power of flight because she had eaten salt.  She became the wife of Tom, and was remembered for her kindness, upon her death.

 

Papa Bois

Papa Bois is the protector of all forest life, and while his description can vary, he is usually said to have the upper torso of a man, and cloven hooves of a deer for feet. He has very long hair – some accounts say dreadlocks – with two short horns on his head.  He is also described as having a very muscular in appearance, is a very fast runner and some accounts even has him depicted as having the ability of multilocation. He detracts hunters from their prey by setting false tracks which leads them and their dogs astray to the point of being lost. It is recommended that if one should encounter him, be mindful of your manners and use a patois greeting: “Bon jour, vieux Papa” or “Bon Matin Maitre.”

 

Churlie

The Churlie is a spirit well known in both Trinidad and Guyana.  The Guyanese version is said to be more of that of a vampire, while in Trinidad, this spirit is that of a woman who either died during childbirth or committed suicide whilst pregnant. This entity spends eternity grieving and is known for attacking pregnant women. It is said that she is dressed in white and carries her unborn child who cries for milk.

 

Come visit us at the Heritage Library Division, NALIS, or see our FB page: https://www.facebook.com/NALISHLDTT/  to learn more about other characters such as: 

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


Sources

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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