Jun 08, 2008 News
By Rustom Seegopaul
There are many different types of jumbies, in Guyanese folklore. A “jumbie” is a Guyanese Creolese name given to a host of spirits and demons. ‘Jumbie’ is actually the generic name given to all malevolent entities. The various kinds of jumbies reflect Guyana’s complex history and ethnic makeup, drawing on African, Amerindian, East Indian, Dutch, English, and even Chinese mythologies.
“Baccoo” may actually be derived from a Nigerian Yoruba entity called Abiku. The Abiku is the spirit of a baby that has died before being named. They are usually represented by small wooden statues in Yoruba homes as a form of appeasement to the spirit of the deceased.
The Guyanese baccoo may actually be derived from these statues. Guyanese baccoos are described as short men with large eyes, long arms and legs, and most conspicuously, an absence of kneecaps. A spirit of small stature that pelts stones at houses and moves objects within a house, the baccoo is supposed to live on bananas and milk.
Stories abound of the existence of baccoos in Georgetown and other areas in Guyana.
The legend could have come from Suriname. The spirit is said to be trapped in a corked bottle, unless released. Baccoos are active mainly at night. It is said that a satisfied baccoo will answer the wishes of its owner.
When a baccoo takes over, the person will act crazy and go insane, almost like obia or voodoo was performed.
Another legend says that the baccoo will do work for his master. In return, the master must feed the bacoo on bananas and milk. If the baccoo does not get his daily ration of bananas and milk, it is said that the baccoo will beat the master severely.
Old people from West Coast Demerara often speak of two famous baccoos, named ‘Boysie’ and ‘Boya.’ They lived in Stewartville, on the old road.
As the stories go, if anyone would say anything bad about them, or about baccoos in general, they would get angry and make bad things happen to whoever had said bad things. They had once covered a man in faeces for saying bad things about them, and another story is that they had caused objects in a man’s house to start flying around.
Bacoos can be trapped inside glass bottles, but this is a very difficult task. First something to attract them must be put into the bottle. Then, after they have gone into the bottle, a cork must be jammed into the bottle to act as a stopper. Once this has been done, the baccoo cannot escape.
People usually throw these bottles in the ocean.
Legend has it that if you find a corked bottle on the sea wall, you should never open it as it may contain a baccoo. If you open the bottle and there is a baccoo, then he will stay with you and you will be forced to feed him bananas and milk, or incur his wrath.
According to legend, a Choorile is the spirit of a woman who has died during childbirth, leaving her baby alive. The separation from her baby makes her restless, and so the choorile roams throughout the night, crying mournfully.
The choorile is one of the Guyanese Jumbies that are slowly being forgotten, and the older generation of Guyanese are the ones who still remember the choorile. Many of the younger generation have never heard of the choorile.
The massacooraman is a huge, hairy, man-like creature that lives in rivers in the interior of Guyana. The massacooramaan allegedly capsizes small boats and eats the occupants.
Amerindians and miners who work in the interior of Guyana often speak of the massacooramaan. It is much taller and bigger than a man, and has sharp teeth. It is unknown whether or not the massacooramaan lives in the river or dwells on land, but it is certain that it can swim very well and attacks boats in the river at whatever chance it gets.
THE MOON GAZER
The Moon Gazer only comes out at nights when there is a full moon. It appears to be a tall, muscular man. Other stories say that the moon-gazer is invisible and only his shadow can be seen, cast by the light of the full moon.
It stands with its legs on either side of the road, hands on hips, staring at the moon. If one alerts it to one’s presence, it will suck out one’s brain through its palm. Also if someone walks between its legs that are spread apart, the oon Gazer will crush that person.
The Canaima is supposed to be an Amerindian medicine man. It is said that the witch doctor has the ability to change himself into a Jaguar. Canaimas can be good or bad, depending on the person, and are both feared and respected by Amerindians.
THE BUSH DAI-DAI
The Bush Dai-Dai is a Guyanese spirit of Amerindian and Afro-Guyanese heritage. The Bush Dai Dai usually takes the form of a beautiful woman who comes to the remote camps of Guyanese miners deep in the hinterland regions of Guyana.
After entering the camp and having sexual intercourse with the miners, the young woman usually changes into a wild animal and eats her victims as they sleep. The Bush Dai-Dai is another jumbie that is slowly being forgotten.
THE OLE HIGUE
Ole Higues are also known as “Fire Rass” or Angeli. The ole higue is always a woman. It is said that she sucks the blood of unsuspecting victims as they sleep. Her favourite victims are young children and babies.
The ole higue’s distinguishing feature is the fact that, during the day, she lives among other Guyanese as a somewhat introverted and quiet old lady. At night, this seemingly harmless old woman removes her skin, places it gently in a calabash, and travels across the sky as a ball of fire heading to the home of her intended victim.
To enter the home she shrinks herself and enters through the keyhole.
There have been countless sightings of these balls of fire all over the country, and many people still have a staunch belief in the reality of the ole higue.
There are three ways to dispose of an ole higue. The first is to turn the key while she is trying to get through the keyhole. Even today many people still lock their doors and then turn their key to a horizontal position to allow an ole higue to make it partway into the hole.
The rustling of the key should wake the tenant, who can then turn the key fully and crush the ole higue. It is said that the next morning a pile of bones should be seen on the doorstep.
The second way is to find its skin in the calabash where it is stored and put hot peppers in the skin. An ole higue who tries to wear this skin will be burned by the pepper. The ole higue is very miserly, and the last way to catch the ole higue is to spill rice grains on the floor in front of the front door to the house. As the ole higue enters your house, she will be forced to count every rice grain before she can pass. It is better to make sure there is a large helping of rice on the floor and no bags in sight.
This is because the ole higue will have to pick up the grains with her right hand and place counted grains in her left hand. Her hands can only hold so many rice grains, and it is only a matter of time before the grains begin to fall back to the ground and the process begins again. When the homeowners awake the next morning, they should find a very tired and incredibly distressed ole higue counting rice. This is when the homeowners will beat the woman to death with a broom.
There are many more jumbies in Guyanese folklore and history.
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