Caribbean Folklore Part 3:

In this our third and final section on Folklore we will continue look at some of the more popular characters. 


Although called The Snake Woman, a Saapin can be either a man or a woman. Originating from India, the Saapin is a snake whose host would bear the markings of a cobra on either her back or thigh. It is said that the cobra comes alive at midnight during the full moon and if the woman is married, it bites the husband and then returns to being a mark on the woman’s body. The bite is fatal, but neither husband nor wife are aware of the snake or what has happened. The “fatality” of the bite is manifested in the form of an accident or sudden illness resulting in death. 


Jinn / Buck / Bacoo

These are supernatural spirits with Middle Eastern origins. They can take many forms either  human or animal, male or female, be either good or evil, and do the bidding of their master. They can reside and gain access to anywhere, but can only be captured in their spirit form.. Bucks are similar to Jinns but originate from Guyana and Suriname. These tend to be rather grotesque in appearance, and must be fed and treated properly or will turn against their master. 


La Diablesse

Most accounts depict the La Diablesse as a very beautiful woman wearing a floor length dress which covers her one normal foot and the other: a cloven hoof. She usually appears to her intended victim at night, and men, captivated by her beauty are willing to follow her. She  usually takes them to very lonely places or in deep in the forest where the beguiled male finds himself caught in a thorn bush and left to die. Suggested actions to escape range from either wearing one’s clothing on the reverse sides, or lighting a flame.


Mama Dlo / Mama Dglo / Maman de l’eau

Her description varies as some renditions have her as exceedingly beautiful and others, hideous to behold, but usually described as having the upper half of a woman, and lower half of a snake (some versions specify and say which type e.g. anaconda). She protects rivers, lagoons, and streams, from anyone who pollutes these watercourses. If one is in the forest and hears the sound similar to that of a whip cracking, it might be her, as she does that with her lower half. The punishment for despoiling the watercourses or killing of animals varies as the guilty parties can be either whipped or married to her in this and in the afterlife.


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



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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