Jumbee

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A Jumbee is a type of spirit or demon in Guyanese folk tale.

Contents

Overview

The Jumbee is a Guyanese Creolese name given to a host of spirits and demons of Guyanese folklore. Jumbee is actually the generic name given to all malevolent entities; however, there are numerous kinds of Jumbees. The various kinds of Jumbees reflect Guyana’s complex history and ethnic makeup, drawing on African, Amerindian, East Indian, Dutch, English, and even Chinese mythology.

Types of Jumbees

Backoo

Backoo, 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 form of appeasement to the spirit of the deceased. The Guyanese Backoo may actually be derived from these statues. Guyanese Backoos are described as short men with large eyes, long arms and legs, and most conspicuously an absence of kneecaps. [1]

A spirit of small stature that pelts stones at houses and moves objects within a house. He is supposed to live on banana and milk. Stories abound of the existence of backoos 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. Backoos are active mainly at night; it is said that a satisfied backoo will answer the wishes of its owner.

When a backoo takes over, the person will act crazy and go insane, almost like obeah or voodoo was performed.

Choorile

Choorile, spirit of a woman who dies in childbirth, leaving her baby alive. Restless, owing to the separation from her baby, the choorile roams at night, crying mournfully. When people cry all the time, or run around crazy like something is lost, they are usually called "Choorile", although only most older generation Guyanese people do this.

Massacooramaan

The Massacooramaan is a huge, hairy, man-like creature that lives in rivers in the interior. The name is derived from the chapters of redemption. This beast is almost untamed looking, with the appearance of a wild Berhane, but don't be fool.It is a Fearful looking, the massacooramaan capsizes small boats and eats the occupants.

Moon-Gazer

The Moon-Gazer is a Jumbee that appears to be a tall muscular man. It stands with its legs on either side of the road, hands on hips, staring at the moon. If one alerts it to your presence it will suck out your brain through its palm. Also if someone walks between its legs that are spread apart, the Moon Gazer will crush that person by bringing its legs together.

Ole-Higue

Ole-Higue, also known as "Fire Rass" or Angeli, she is the Guyanese equivalent of a vampire. Ole-Higue is always female. She sucks the blood of unsuspecting victims as they sleep. Her favorite victims are young children. 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; maybe you know one… she possibly lives at the edge of your village. 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. Guyanese believe that there are 3 ways to catch an Ole-Higue:

  • to turn the key while she is trying to get through the keyhole. As a result even today many Guyanese 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. The next morning one should see a pile of bones on the doorstep.
  • to find the skin of the Ole-Higue in the Calabash and put hot peppers in the skin. An Ole-Higue who tries to wear this skin will be burned by the pepper and then sing a well known song…Lawd skin yuh ing kno me?… why yuh bite me?
  • since the Ole-Higue is of Dutch and Afro-Guyanese heritage the Dutch side makes her miserly. The easiest way to catch her is to spill rice grains on the floor in front of your front door. As the Ole-Higue enters your house she will be compelled to count every rice grain. A smart Guyanese will make sure there a large helping of rice on the floor and no bags in sight. As a result the Ole-Higue will have to pick up the grains with her right hand and place counted grains in her left hand. As is to be expected, 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 homeowner awakes the next morning he/she should find a very tired and incredibly distressed Ole-Higue counting rice. At this point in time a smart Guyanese will beat the woman to death with a special anti-Ole-Higue broom.

Canaima

Canaima, the Amerindian version of a werewolf. It is usually described as an Amerindian man with the ability to change himself into a Jaguar. Canaimas can be good or bad depending on the person and are to be feared and respected regardless.

Bush Dai Dai

Bush Dai-Dai is a Guyanese spirit of Amerindian and Afro-Guyanese heritage ( The Bush Dai Dai usually takes the form of a beautiful Buffiana woman who comes to the camps of Guyanese miners. 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.

For more info. [2]

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