trickster, a mythic figure common among Native North Americans, South Americans, and Africans. Usually male but occasionally female or disguised in female form, he is notorious for exaggerated biological drives and well-endowed physique; partly divine, partly human, and partly animal, he is an often amoral and comic troublemaker. The Winnebago trickster Wakdjunkaga scattered all creation across the earth through his flatulence. Natives of the Pacific NW believe that the Raven, after miniaturizing himself and entering the daughter of a chief, was able to emerge disguised as an infant and steal the box in which the chief hid the sun, thus bringing light into the world. Peoples of the plateaus of the NW United States believe that good fishing is found near settlements that gained the favor of the coyote by allowing him to copulate with their women. Tales of tricksters are ironic arenas in which corporeality and transcendence, the individual and society, meaning and the absurd, are mediated and celebrated.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.