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Sunday, August 13, 2006


The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Duppies’ are restless spirits of the dead that are believed to haunt the living. Though there are good and bad spirits, the ‘duppy’ is seen as malevolent because the good spirits cannot be seen. The good spirit is sometimes referred to as ancestral spirits, who are believed to be dead family members who still take an interest in the life of family members. Contrary to the good spirit, the ‘duppy’ is seen as the unnamed, unhappy, and restless dead human who is capable of doing harm. The ‘duppy’ can linger around or be summoned by an obeah-man or woman from the graveyard to do harm in exchange for payment of food or drink, especially rum. ‘Duppies’ are said to live at the roots of cotton trees and bamboo thickets, from where they emerge in the nights or at midday.

According to legend, one can tell if a ‘duppy’ is around if certain signs are observed, such as:

  • If a dog whines or howls at night.
  • A spider web across the face, especially at night.
  • If a stick break at night (you must say good family it is me-that will ward the duppy off and it will not harm you)
  • smell food at night and there is no food in that vicinity(you must say Jack mon ginger mi nuh choosy-this will also ward off the duppy and it will not harm you)

It is also supposed that certain precautions must be taken to ward off or to avoid trouble with a ‘duppy’. When throwing out water at night care must be taken to warn the ‘duppies’ before throwing the water. Stones must not be thrown at noon or nights and one should never sit at the threshold of a door as a ‘duppy’ will walk over and injure you. Methods of getting rid of ‘duppies’ range from cursing or calling “Jesus Christ” to nailing a horseshoe to the house.

Jamaican folklore contains a significant amount of ‘duppy’ stories in various forms. Jamaican sayings and proverbs also contain references to ‘duppies’; “Bull buck and duppy conqueror” and “Duppy know who fi frighten an who fi tell good night” are two such examples.

Below is an example of a Duppy Story from Jamaican folklore:

Once a man was walking in the street on a night. He met a duppy. His teet' was like fire; so de man went to ask for a light, did not know it was duppy. So de duppy gash his teet' at him an' he run. So de duppy went on met him again. De man did not know it was him, went up wid a complain':--"See, sir, I meet a man jus' now, ask 'im for a light an' he gash his teet' at me!" De duppy grin his teet' again an' ask, "Teet' like dese?" an' de man run again.

Rolling Calf
Rolling Calf is a duppy with fiery eyes and flames coming out of its nostrils. It drags a chain coming out of its neck.

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