Photo Story: Legend of the Silk Cotton Tree

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Silk Cotton Tree      vagrant

PHOTOS BY : Nadine Eversley (NativeFoto Contributor)

Above are the first two Photos uploaded to the NativeFoto Website by Amateur Photographer Nadine Eversley. The picture of a Silk Cotton Tree was taken in the sister island of Tobago, these trees are associated with a rich and foreboding folklore history in T&T. The second photo is that of a resting street dweller within Adam Smith Square, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Unfortunately, this is still not an uncommon site throughout much of our capital city of Port of Spain. Congrats to Nadine, we look forward following  the journey of your camera as you continue to add to our Local Stock Image database at NativeFoto.com .For those of us that love a good story behind a picture then the article below should make for interesting reading 🙂  The full original article is available here at: Newsday Feature

Devil in the silk cotton tree
Our Heritage with Al Ramsawack Monday, November 24 2014

There are herbs, shrubs and trees of medicinal value; some are revered in the belief that they are sacred and yet others are considered to bring on bad luck, or emit evil vibrations. But the most feared of all is the silk cotton tree

In many villages, towns and even cities, the silk cotton tree flourishes, because of fear. No ordinary woodsman or hunter will as much as venture close to cutting a branch of that tree, for it is said that the devil resides in that feared tree, and it is the central seat of evil, and the Parliament of all the demonic acolytes of the devil, who is also referred to as Papa Diable (Papa Jab), or Bazil; the visitor of death.

The events leading up to the belief of the devil in the silk cotton tree state, that way back in our folk history, there lived an old carpenter in the forested little village of Coal Mine in the outskirts of Sangre Grande.

He was fondly called Papa Le Bois. At that time, many of the old villagers were dying, as Bazil roamed about calling death upon them according to his choice. However, the cunning Papa Le Bois decided to get rid of Bazil the Devil; and so live for hundreds of years.

He struck upon a plan and set about to work. Very early that morning, he took up his tool box and walked through a forest track to a huge silk cotton tree. On the bark of the tree trunk, he etched out an area to look like a door. In that area he chiselled into the huge trunk, hollowing it into a big room. When the forest grew dark into night, Le Bois returned home; a very tired man.

The next day he returned to the silk cotton tree. He entered the tree house with his tools. In the ceiling of that room, he carved out a hole, from where he continued to carve up into the trunk.

He hollowed out another room above the first. And so, each following day he hollowed out a new room, one above the other, so that on the seventh day, he had completed seven rooms.

On the final day, he added doors complete with locks.

He started from the top floor, locking the doors, down to the ground floor, after which, he returned home to await the right moment to execute his final plan.

Several months later, Bazil the feared visitor of death, knocked on Le Bois’ door, demanding to take his soul and end his days.

The old carpenter agreed but asked to be granted one last wish. He explained,

“Boss, during all mih years as ah carpentah ah build ah house out orf ah forest tree. Dat is muh masterpiece. Now before yuh tek mih soul, Ah want yuh to see dat castle an’ admire mih wok.”

The devil agreed and soon, they appeared at the door of the silk cotton tree castle. Pointing to the door, Papa Le Bois said,

“Boss Devil, yuh see dat door. Well, dat door lead to seven floors and de seventh floor is de secret chamber, which hold de mystery orf dis silk cotton castle. No one must visit dat room; only me de builder of dis silk cotton castle.”

The devil was impressed and anxious to visit the inside. One by one Le Bois unlocked and opened the doors as they ascended the stairs right up to the sixth floor when Le Bois pretended not to allow the devil to visit the seventh and final floor. The devil demanded:

“Man open up dat old door before Ah get vex and tek yuh soul! Ah is Bazil de visitor orf deat’! Come right now an’ open up dat door!” The old carpenter opened the door.

The anxious, curious devil rushed into the secret, dark chamber. Quickly Papa Le Bois slammed the door shut and locked in the devil. He hurried down through the lower floors, locking the doors behind him. Finally, he fastened the last door and hurried home.

For seven years, Coal Mine was without a death in the village, as the Devil, Bazil, the visitor of death remained locked in the silk cotton tree. One day, Papa God sent down a Messenger to Coal Mine, to trick Papa Le Bois into releasing the Devil from the silk cotton tree, and so, to avoid the over population of Coal Mine and all of Trinidad and Tobago. The Good Messenger set up a rum shop on the Coal Mine Junction.

One day when Le Bois and many of his old friends were drinking rum at the shop, he became jolly and boastful of his act of imprisoning Bazil in the Silk Cotton Tree.

The Messenger, shopkeeper urged the old carpenter to lead them to the Tree to prove the truth.

The proud Le Bois led the staggering group of intoxicated men to the tree in the forest. Floor by floor they ascended through the dark chambers until he opened the seventh and final door.

The angry Devil menacingly, grabbed his long, knobby fingers at the shivering Le Bois in a final take.

The mysterious Messenger disappeared, while the others scampered away and into hiding in their homes.

…And to this day, the mystery and fear of the silk cotton tree, as being the home of the devil and the central government of evil vibrations has become an institution, as eerie stories continue to be told by hunters and forest dwellers, of the many weird encounters at the feared silk cotton tree.

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5 Comments

  1. August 8, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    Always fascinated by these stories – my nature hikes will now take on a different perspective

  2. P.Sawh-Reply
    August 10, 2015 at 11:43 pm

    Always love a good folklore!

  3. August 12, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of local folklore but this is the first time I’ve heard the story of the silk cotton tree. Very interesting. Love how a random rum shop ends up in the story as well. True Trini culture!!

  4. Zhuan-Reply
    March 22, 2017 at 11:06 am

    The image of the tree captures the foreboding atmosphere it creates; great picture. And so reading the folk story, what I did I learn? Rum leads to the demise of men and good in the world. Stay away!! :p

  5. March 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm

    Hi Zhuan … Glad that you liked the image. A member of our small NativeFoto Team, whom shall remain anonymous, wants to know if rum also leads to the demise of good women. Apparently, there is a bottle of Angostura Rum waiting for carnival in Trinidad with your name on it 🙂

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