Lajabless

--Informant Info--
Nationality: United States
Age: 20
Occupation: Student/Digital Artist
Residence: Queens, NY
Date of Performance/Collection: 04/11/2021
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

BACKGROUND: My informant, OR, was born in the US. Her parents are both immigrants from Grenada. OR is always joking about Carribeans being a very superstitious people and this piece is just one story out of the many that OR told me about her family’s beliefs. OR had previously told me about soucouyants and this story is in a similar vein, depicting a seductive, villainous female/creature character.

CONTEXT: This piece is from a conversation with my friend to discuss the role of superstition in Caribbean culture. 

OR: There’s also, um, Lajabless, which, I don’t even know how this is f-cking spelled. I think it comes from the French, like La Diablesse, like a female devil. She’s got — usually in like depiction the of her she’s got like this wide flopping, brim hat. One of her feet is normal, but I think the other one is like a goat hoof or a horse hoof or like a… 

Me: She’s got a hoof.

OR: (laughs) Yeah she’s got a hoof. And the story is like, it’s mostly like an old wives’ text. The story is like some drunk asshole goes at night and sees this lady with her floppy brim hat and her skirt (which is covering her hoof) and flirts with her. Then Lajabless reveals her face under the hat and it’s like a skull face. (laughs) The — the guy’s like so freaked out. He like falls off of a cliff dies.

THOUGHTS: I think that a lot of cultures have a story of a female “seductress” leading to a man’s downfall. In biblical lore, Lilith is often portrayed as a sexual temptress. However, as the story goes, Lilith was only cast out of Eden because of her desire to be equal to Adam. I think a similar thread happens in this story. As OR tells it, Lajabless was minding her own business when a drunk and leery man makes an advance on her. It is interesting to me how women in legends are often painted as more villainous than they are when they are able to stand up to or retaliate against their male counterparts.