The West African character, Anansi, and the Native American creature Iktomi are two famous tricksters in the world of literature. Iktomi is the charlatan figure of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Sioux tribes whose name plainly signifies spider (Zitkala-Sa). He is, therefore, sometimes christened spider or Spider-man in the English language albeit he is customarily portrayed as a man in Sioux legends. Iktomi is considered a spider-trickster spirit and a cultural hero for the Lakota people. According to Native American culture, Iktomi is both a spider and a spider-like man because he was born fully grown from an egg, the size of an ordinary human being. He has a big round body like a spider, with slender arms and legs and powerful hands and feet. According to the cultural background of the Iktomi, he is a trickster who does things backward. He has various characteristics, such as wisdom and cunningness, which culminate in him coming out on top. According to the Lakota culture, Iktomi has two meanings; one is spider, and the other one is a spider-like man. As a spider-like man and a trickster, he possesses mysterious supernatural powers that are both good and bad. For example, he can predict something, and anytime he realizes that people have doubts about his prediction, he makes it come true. Anansi and Iktomi are cultural, mythological characters in Iktomi and Nakota Sioux tribes whose traits mainly emanate from the spider-like body; he is cunning and wise, qualities that he uses for both good and bad.
Anansi, the spider, is a trickster in the folk tales of the Ashanti people of Ghana and is mainly considered a hero in cartoon series (Dwyer-Shick et al.). Anansi, therefore, is an Akan folktale character that often takes the shape of a spider and is considered to be the spirit of all knowledge of stories. He is also one of the most important characters of West African and Caribbean folklore. Ghana is the central origin of the Akan people and the word Anansi means spider. He is depicted in many different ways. For example, he sometimes looks like an ordinary spider and at other times a spider wearing clothes, or with a human face. He also sometimes looks like a human with spider elements such as having eight legs. Anansi tales are the most famous known among the Asante people of Ghana. Initially, it is believed that Anansi originated in the accounts of the Ashanti people and then the Akan people in Ghana and afterward the narratives dispersed through West Africa. Being considered as the West African god and taking the form of a spider, he grasps the comprehension of all the folklore and narratives. He is sly and tricky and employs his cunning treachery to labor to achieve what he desires. Anansi and his stories are considered trickster folktales because as a small spider, he exploits his intellect and trickiness to overcome more massive beings.
Numerous societies pass down myths orally as a function of their ethnic traditions. Iktomi is undoubtedly a Native American fiction, and Anansi a similarly told West African account are some of the well-recounted mythological stories. Iktomi and Anansi are spider tales from diverse regions that are substantially similar in both content and characters. They are the same because they center around a charlatan who is shrewd, greedy, and mystically powerful. Both of them display some ingenious characteristics. For example, Iktomi shows some attributes of being astute in how he ensnares ducks for his nourishment. He tricks them by telling them that they should know to dance and he would volunteer to teach them but the first thing they should shut their eyes for them not to be cursed. At this particular moment when the ducks have their eyes closed, he catches and kills some of them without the others even realizing what is happening (Globe). These same characteristics are shown by Anansi when he decides to capture an entire hornet's nest a technic that he uses to learn all the stories of the world. To achieve this, he convinces the Hornets of the approaching storm, and therefore they need to hide in a hole dug in the ground for them to survive. The Hornets being as naive as the ducks in the Iktomi, decide to do as Anansi tells them making it easy for Anansi to trap and catch them. It shows how Clever Iktomi and Anansi and this become one of the characteristics that they both share.
Besides them sharing a characteristic of being smart, they also show a less desirable character trait of being greedy. For example, Anansi shows his greediness when there is a famine, and his family suffers a significant shortage of food with fewer crops to survive the drought. So Anansi decides to fake his death so that he can be buried in the farm where he stays in the coffin during the day but sneaks out during the night to feed on the crops leaving his family to starve so that he can live off the land. For Iktomi, he is accused of having some dreadful character traits but he decides to prove himself guilty, and when he is hungry he goes out into the cold weather to find food. During the time of finding food, he only has his blanket as the only warmth and decides to ask help from a rock. The rock was supposed to help him find food after sacrificing his coverage. The stones help him to find a freshly killed dear, but after that, Iktomi thinks that it's not the rock that helped him and when he got slightly too cold, he decided to go back and take his over-blanket. Going back to claim his blanket he returns to where the deer was and found that it had disappeared. It shows how greedy he was as he required both food and heat.
Another shared characteristic by Iktomi and Anansi was of obtaining some supernatural powers. The main aim of Anansi was to study all the narratives of the world, and for him to achieve this, he had to accomplish various tasks that were somehow difficult to him. He tried all the three missions, and without power or money he became successful and was given all the global narrations. For Iktomi, he had warned the ducks not to open the eyes to avoid being cursed. Some of the ducks opened their eyes, and Iktomi cursed them. He used his powers to change their looks too ugly mud ducks that were shunned away by rest similarly to what Iktomi desired (Globe).
Basing on the shared characteristics of tricksters, Iktomi and Anansi are both alike enough to be considered mainly of the same character. They are tales of the tricksters and have been used to pass the cultural traditions of various customs and civilizations meaning they are acutely comparative to one other albeit they are from different regions.
Dwyer-Shick, Susan, et al. "Anansi the Spider; A Tale from the Ashanti." Ethnomusicology, vol. 18, no. 3, 1974, p. 488., doi:10.2307/850549.
Goble, Paul. Iktomi and the ducks: A Plains Indian story. Orchard Books, 1994.
Zitkala-Sa. Iktomi and the ducks and other Sioux stories. University of Nebraska Press, 2004.
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