Life

Anansi folklore stories set to spin a tale at The Manchester Museum exhibition in June

 By Claire Holden 

A trickster spider is set to spin a tale at The Manchester Museum with a new exhibition on June 2.

‘We Face Forward: Anansi Stories’ explores the stories of a mythological spider from West African and Caribbean folklore.

The exhibition will include a collection of artwork, stories and performances to interpret the many stories told by Anansi the mischievous spider.

Anansi started life as a man but due to his naughty ways was turned into a spider by his father, the Great Sky God.

Because of his small size, Anansi had to use his intelligence to survive, he became known for his skill and wisdom in speech.

Stories of his adventures have been passed down through generations and across continents.

He is so well known that he lends his name to a rich tradition of tales that many children from Ghana were brought up on – known as Anansesem.

It is said that once there were no stories in the world.

The Sky God, Anansi’s father, had them all so he asked the Sky God how much they would cost to buy.

A high price was set, Anansi must complete several dangerous missions such as bringing back a leopard, a python, hornets and a dwarf.

Using his cunning, and not his strength, Anansi completed his mission and took the creatures back to the Sky God.

In reward, he was handed the stories.

In some beliefs, Anansi is responsible for creating the sun, the starts, and the moon as well as teaching mankind the techniques of agriculture.

In an issue of the Marvel Comics mini-series Spider-Man Fairy Tales, Spider-Man takes on the role of Anansi.

He is on a quest to gain more power after feeling unappreciated and eventually realises that the greatest power is friendship.

The set of fables, Anansesem, have now been re-interpreted through a collaboration of the Museum’s natural history and ethnographic collections, the African Caribbean Carers Group, and artist Alan Birch.

The Museum will display objects from the exhibition in the reception area, and there will be a programme of family and adult events that include storytelling, live music and other performances.

‘We Face Forward: Anansi Stories’ will run from June 2 to September 16, entrance is free.

For more information visit http://www.museum.manchester.ac.uk/whatson/exhibitions/wefaceforwardanansistories/

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