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BAHAMAS FOLK TALES
Book of Bahamas Folk Tales
"Ole Story Time" was once a treasured cultural tradition in Bahamian communities. The Ole' stories, which were told orally, strengthened community bonds, promoted community values, and affirmed and validated Baharnian cultural and national identity.
Today, however, many deveiopmental changes have led to the disappearance of the oral Ole' story and old' story time, As a result, many from the younger generation of Bahamians have never heard a Bahamian Ole' story and some do not even know that Bahamian Ole story time ex?ted. At present, it seems that all hope is lost for the recovery of oral Ole' stories as they were traditionaliy told during ole' story time.
However, creative transcription offers novel and innovative opportunities for Bahamians to preserve the Ole' story, Mizpah Tertullien, Telcine Turner-Rolle, Patricia Glinton-Meicholas and James Catalyn's transcriptions demonstrate that though transcriptions cannot retain all of the elements of Ole' story time, they can preserve many elements wh?h gave Ole' stories such an important place in the lives of Bahamians. Through an analysis of their transcriptions, this thesis suggests that transcription can play an important role in preserving and rejuvenating the Bahamian Ole' story and in allowing the Ole' story to affirm Bahamian national and cultural identity of Bahamians today, as its oral versions did in the pst. It argues that because Bahamian Ole' stones are no longer being told orally, and because these stories and the value of them is disappearing from Bahamian society, transcription is a necessary measure through which Bahamians can again experience the joys, learn the national and cultural lessons, and know the communal value of Ole' story time.
Andros: The Chickcharney
The Chickcharnee, the most famous of the mythological creatures of Andros, is said to live in the tops of the tallest pine trees on Andros. If you cross the Chickcharnee, he will turn your head on backwards. Other lesser known mythological creatures include the Lusca of the blue holes, the Bosee Anansee, and the Yahoo.
Folk wisdom on the largest island in The Bahamas, Andros, requires that visitors carry flowers or pieces of brightly colored cloth. Such items charm the resident creatures called chickcharnies. If you see a chickcharnie, the people say, show it respect. The benefit is good luck for the rest of your life. The consequence of disrespect is that your head will be turned around forcibly and completely.
Chickcharnies are supposed to be forest-dwelling elfin creatures resembling birds. Their nesting sites are constructed by joining the tops of two pine trees. Their piercing eyes are red. They have three fingers, three toes and a tail, which they use to suspend themselves from the trees.
It is believed that the origin of the chickcharnie idea was the large, three-toed, burrowing owl which once lived in these forests, but became extinct in the 16th century.
On Andros Island, Bahamas, is a legend of mischievous, small entities called Chickcharnies. The stories tell of little people that once inhabited the remote forests of the island, that were highly aggressive, and that could turn their heads all the way around. Chickcharnies are reported only from Andros Island and are said to have three fingers, three toes, and red eyes.
Now, there truly once existed on Andros Island -- the largest (104 x 40 miles) and least inhabited of the Bahamas islands -- a Chickcharnie of sorts. It was a 2-foot-tall owl called Tyto pollens, a remote cousin of the smaller Common Barn-owl (Tyto alba). Tyto pollens was a large, flightless owl known there from subfossils. It may be that it was territorially aggressive and coexisted with humans. The ability of owls to swivel their heads, and a territorial aggression, may have been the basis for this particular legend, but this is speculation.
It is said that to see a Chickcharnie brings lifelong good luck to the observer. I once spent 10 days on Andros Island and explored its seldom-visited old Caribbean pine forests in search of rare birds. But ... no Chickcharnies.
(Andros Island is a wonderful place that time and Club Med forgot ... and may they never find it. The few small hamlets are infused with much local color. Andros even has a "Loch Ness Monster" according to one travel brochure, that described it as a dragon-like sea monster called the Lusca. The Spaniards called the island "La Isla del Espiritu Santo," or the island of the Holy Spirit.)
(see THIS LINK for more folk tales of Andros from Google Books)
Lusca is half-shark, half-octopus or half-dragon, half-octopus, depending on who you talk to. She lurks deep among the waters of the blue holes and inland caverns that are found throughout Andros.
Along with mermaids and other legendary creatures, she feeds on marine debris containing plankton and other small creatures that are brought in with the tidal currents. Local legend holds that the tidal currents of the inland blue holes are none other than the breath of Lusca. As she breathes in, water pours in strongly enough in some caverns to form a whirlpool, and when she exhales, cold, clear water boils to the surface.
Legend has it that any encounter with this extraordinary beast almost always results in the death of whoever was unfortunate enough to wander too close to its watery lair. This extends not only to intrepid divers who have dared to brave the labyrinthine depths of the blue holes, but also to those unwary souls who stand too close to the shoreline, as the Lusca has been known to use its tentacles to drag even earthbound victims to their watery graves.Onlookers have even described seeing fishermens? boats suddenly being yanked below the surface of the blue holes, only to watch in horror as the indigestible flotsam of these broken vessels slowly raises to the surface, their captains no where to be seen.
The unique, underground waterworlds of Bahamian blue holes I. Introduction Imagine a beautiful moonlit night. You?re standing on a Bahamian beach watching the ocean waves. A mermaid appears on the beach and asks you a fateful question. You know that if you answer the question correctly, you?ll win a visit to her underwater crystal palace in a blue hole cave, a lock of her hair, and good fortune throughout your life. But, if you answer incorrectly, your trip will be one way, pulled down into the gaping mouth of a blue hole, perhaps to feed ?Lusca?
This is a Bahamian folk tale created from the mysteriousness of the Bahamas? blue holes, the underwater caverns that weave through the limestone banks of the Bahamas. In this presentation, I will discuss: ? the folk tale of ?Lusca,? ? when and how the blue holes formed, ? the exploration of blue holes, and finally ? the flora and fauna that make their homes in Bahamian blue holes.
More Bahamas Folk Tales will be added, once we read Patricia Glinton-Meicholas' book.
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