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1001 Stories Collection

Anansi and the Basket of Stories

1001 Anansi Story Collection
Added on 25th June 2020

Oral tradition West African folktale

Whispering Wood Africa Animals
1001 , Audio

An Anansi the spider story about challenges and tricks - and sharing stories.


Once there were no stories in the world. The sky god Nyame had them all up in the clouds. Anansi the spider wanted those stories so he went up to see the sky god and he asked for them. Nyame set Anansis three challenges. He must bring Mmboro the Hornets, Onini the Python and Osebo the Leopard. If he could capture all three, he could have the stories. What would Anansi do?

Why we chose it

A story about sharing stories. Anansi is an important character in West African and Caribbean folklore and popular with storytellers today. Poet and writer Benjamin Zephaniah chose to be photographed as Anansi the Spider for The Story Museum’s 26 Characters exhibition of favourite childhood story characters..

Where it came from

Anansi is a spider who sometimes acts and looks like a man and is loved for his trickery and skill with words. The Anansi folk tales are thought to have originated with the Ashanti people in Ghana, for whom the word anansi means ‘spider’ and all fables are known as anansesem or ‘spider tales’.

Where it went next

The stories, which are often about small but plucky Anansi outwitting more powerful creatures, spread with slavery to the Caribbean and southern United States, and are now loved across the world.

Still popular in oral storytelling traditions, Anansi increasingly appears in books, films, games and songs.

Associated stories

Anansi is a trickster character. Trickster stories can be found all over the world. Foxes and wolves are frequently tricksters in European stories – like Reynard the Fox. In North America coyote is often the trickster. Other well known tricksters include Brer Rabbit and Loki the Norse god.

In the museum

Find the story in a tree in the Whispering Wood.

Added on 25th June 2020

Oral tradition West African folktale

Whispering Wood Africa Animals
1001 , Audio