GARDENING IN THE TROPICS by Olive Senior Annotations to the poems by the author Main sources: Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage. Olive Senior. Jamaica: Twin Guinep Publishers, 2003 (illustrated). ISBN 976-8007-14-1. Dictionary of Jamaican English. F.G. Cassidy and R.B. LePage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press  2nd ed.1980. ISBN 0 521 22165. Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. Richard Allsopp. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-866152-5.
THE ENTRIES IN THE GLOSSARY ARE LISTED IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THE POEMS APPEAR IN THE BOOK
GOURD The gourd here represents the ritual instrument that calls people together, hence, an invitation to the book of poems. The poem lists many of the myths and legends associated with the gourd throughout the world. The gourd is the fruit of either the Calabash tree (Crescentia cujete), common in the Caribbean; or of a vine (Lagenaria siceraria) more common in Africa and elsewhere. The fruits of both the tree and of the vine vary in size and shape, but may be used in similar ways as vessels. All gourds are prepared by hollowing out the inner flesh and seeds, leaving the skin. Once dried, the thick skin hardens, producing a sturdy vessel or container. A hollow gourd filled with seeds or small stones, fitted with a handle and sometimes with other decoration, becomes a percussive musical instrument used for both secular and sacred Page 1 Gardening in the Tropics – A Glossary copyright © Olive Senior 2011
purposes. Higüera or Jigüera, the name of the calabash gourd in the Spanish Antilles reflects the original and Carib name of güira. took-took: A medium sized calabash gourd used to carry water. The gurgling chuckle of the water pouring out from the small opening gave rise to the name. packy: Jamaican name for the calabash gourd; from the African (Twi) word: apakyi. Orehu the spirit of water: Female water spirit in Amerindian mythology. houngan’s asson: In Haitian Criol, the asson is the sacred gourd rattle of the Haitian Voudon priest – the houngan. shaman’s maraka: The sacred calabash rattle of the medicine-man (shaman) of the Amerindians. shak-shak: Musical instrument: small calabash rattle, filled with seeds or stones. Also chac-chac. maracca: Musical instrument, as above. Associated with Latin American music and dance; used in Trinidadian carnival music.
TRAVELLERS‟ TALES MEDITATION ON YELLOW El Dorado: Spanish for „the golden man‟; the name given to a mythical city of gold linked to the early history of Guyana. The term is used figuratively to signify the futile search for quick riches. fever-grass: Andropogon citratus; oil grass also known as Tea Grass, or Lemon Grass from its scent; used in cooking and medicine. One of the forty species of the genus Cymbopogon (of the Poaceae family). Yucahuna: The supreme spirit (zemi) of the Taíno, the aboriginal people of the Caribbean who were the first native Americans encountered by Columbus. Attabeira: Taíno chief female deity; spirit of fertility. Page 2 Gardening in the Tropics – A Glossary copyright © Olive Senior 2011
guanín: Taíno metal; a breastplate of guanín was the symbol of the cacique or chief. ‘not the Indies/nor Cathay’: Refers to the fact that Columbus on his first voyage mistook the West Indies for the Orient. Yellow Peril: A derogatory term used by Europeans from the late 19th century in reference to a perceived threat posed by Chinese and Japanese people flooding into the West. macca: Jamaican word for prickle or thorn, possibly of Arawak origin. cane rows: Sugar cane that is planted in rows; also, a hair style modelled after sugar cane rows. sensimilla: A high grade of ganja (marijuana). golden crystals: A grade of refined sugar. streggeh: Jamaican word for a vulgar woman or street-walker. The trees listed below are often used in street plantings. Allamanda (Allamanda cathartica), Cassia (Cassia fistula), Poui (Tabebuia spp.), Golden Shower (species of Cassia). All are tropical plants with...
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