Tia Dalma

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Pirates of the Caribbean character
Tia Dalma (Calypso)
Tia Dalma (Calypso)
Gender Female
Profession Obeah sorceress, Hoodoo practitioner, Voodoo Queen
Ship(s) served on Hai Peng
Black Pearl
Appearance(s) Dead Man's Chest
At World's End
Portrayed by Naomie Harris

Tia Dalma, played by Naomie Harris, is a fictional character from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and a primary character in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, in which a significant amount of the plot revolves around her and her powers. It is revealed in At World's End that she is actually the sea goddess Calypso.


The name implies several linguistic possibilities stemming from Portuguese to Spanish.

Tia is both Portuguese and Spanish for "aunt". Dalma could be a reference to the colloquial Caribbean Spanish del mar, "of the sea". It could also be a reference to Spanish de Alma, or Portuguese da alma, which means "of the soul". It could be derived from "Hypatia" meaning "highest, supreme"

Character history

Little is known about Tia Dalma's past before the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, except for an association with Jack Sparrow at some point prior to his recruitment of Hector Barbossa in Tortuga. It is also known that she was Davy Jones' lover, and made him the captain of The Flying Dutchman. Jack also claims that she has tried to kill him before, although she claimed "he enjoyed it at the time", which Jack concedes to, admitting to having enjoyed it.

Before the Brethren Court confined her to a human body, she was the goddess Calypso. Jack confessed to having "known" her at a time when they had been "nigh inseparable" — Tia had provided him with his strange compass: a mysterious device that pointed to what the user wants most. When Calypso was captured, the pirates had tamed the sea, but also became less hardy, as regretted by Barbossa. As she no longer had power over the sea, she turned to Obeah magic to predict what it would do on its own.

In the Jack Sparrow prequel books, Tia Dalma is said to have transformed a girl named Constance Magilore into a cat. It is also revealed that Jack has known her since he was a teenager.

Dead Man's Chest

Tia Dalma was originally the goddess Calypso. During this time, Davy Jones fell in love with her. Calypso gave him the task of guiding the spirits of the dead lost at sea and Jones accepted the task out of love for her. However, she failed to show up when he returned to see her ten years later.

Feeling betrayed, Davy Jones made a secret agreement with the Pirate Lords. He showed them how to bind her to human form using Pieces of Eight; and thus, at the first Brethren Court, the pirates captured Calypso, and bound her to a human body. Her binding tamed the seas and satisfied Jones's desire for vengeance. This entrapment could only be reversed if the Brethren Court reassembled, resubmitted the original nine Pieces of Eight they used to bind her, and burned them.

During her human sojourn she was commonly called Tia Dalma. She was unaware of the crucial role that her former inamorato, Jones, had played in her imprisonment.

Little of Tia Dalma's past is known from this point on, save for an association with pirates like James Sterling and Jack Sparrow. By the time Sparrow turned 16, Tia Dalma was already established on the Pantano River, and was considered to be the greatest mystic in the Caribbean. She returned to Jack the eye of Stone-Eyed Sam along with two beads that allowed him to summon the spirit of Montecuhzoma to defeat the phantom Hernán Cortés. Later, during a meeting with the crew of the Barnacle, Dalma professed to have divined something of Sparrow's future, and seemed to be aware that the Chest of Cortés would play a part in his later life. It was during this time that Dalma provided Sparrow with catnip; the means to return Constance Magliore to her human form, after Dalma herself transformed the girl into a cat.

In the late 1720s, the Pharaoh Taharka from the island of Kerma visited Tia Dalma in her shack, searching for a cure for his ill son, Prince Aniba. Tia Dalma had the cure, but she demanded a payment, and Taharka went to search for it. Taharka finally obtained the cure, but he was soon killed during the rogue pirate attack. The cure was destroyed, and Aniba died.

It was thought that Tia and Sparrow became lovers at some point during the latter's adult life—Jack confessed to having "known" her at a time when they had been "inseparable"—and Dalma provided him with his compass; a mysterious device that pointed to that which its user truly wanted.

Many years after she and Sparrow last parted ways, he returned to her in need of her assistance. Pursued across the Caribbean by the dreaded Kraken, he planned to find the Dead Man's Chest, and in doing so taking control of Davy Jones's heart, resting within, and ensuring his control over Jones and his Kraken. Although Tia seemed pleased to see Jack upon his arrival at her shack, she appeared more interested in his companion, Will Turner, to whose boyish good looks Tia was instantly attracted. She told Will that he had "a touch of destiny", confusing Will as to what she knows. Jack, with more than a touch of jealousy wanted to get straight to business.

A series of trades took place, leaving Jack with the location of the Flying Dutchman—divined by Tia through the "reading" of crab claws—and a jar of dirt to protect him from Jones, while Dalma now found herself in the possession of an undead monkey belonging to the late Captain Barbossa. Sparrow departed with his crew to track down Davy Jones, leaving Dalma alone in her shack—or so they believed.

Jack's crew would soon return to Tia Dalma's shack, but this time without their Captain. Jack had fallen to the Kraken, going down with his ship as the beast dragged the Black Pearl down to Davy Jones' Locker. Tia had apparently foreseen this eventuality, and informed the mourning crew that there was a chance to save Jack. Their journey would take them to World's End, but, though Tia would be joining them on their quest, they would need the leadership of a Captain who knew the waters of World's End. With that, she introduced the resurrected Barbossa to the stunned crew.

It appeared that Tia had been responsible, either partly or perhaps completely, for Barbossa's return to the world of the living after Jack shot him in the heart on Isla de Muerta a year earlier. Tia, seemingly more powerful than any of the crew could have guessed, seemed set to lend her mystical aid to the return of Captain Jack Sparrow at World's End.

At World's End

Tia Dalma joins Barbossa, Will, Elizabeth, and the rest of the Black Pearl's motley crew as they travel to Singapore. There, they infiltrate Sao Feng's headquarters to acquire the navigational chart needed to sail to World's End and Davy Jones' Locker, barely escaping the clutches of the East India Trading Company. On the journey, she explains to Pintel and Ragetti that Jack Sparrow cannot be resurrected the same way Barbossa was because Sparrow was "taken" by the Kraken while Barbossa died from normal, earthly causes, having been shot by Jack. When the crew finds Sparrow on the shores of the Locker and ask him to join them in their quest to defeat Jones he retorts that four of the crew (meaning Will, Barbossa, Tia, and Elizabeth) had tried to kill him, and one actually succeeded (Elizabeth). Tia flirtatiously responds that Jack enjoyed her fury at the time, which causes Jack to smile nostalgically, a hint that they might have had a romantic relationship.[1]

As the group searches for an escape route back to the mortal world, they encounter numerous souls adrift in the water. They see Elizabeth's father, who says 'he feels dead' and that he is also 'proud of her'. Tia Dalma says 'she mustn't leave the ship'. Will then restrains Elizabeth, and Tia Dalma explains that Davy Jones' duty as captain of the Flying Dutchman was to ferry the souls of those who died at sea into the next world, and every ten years for one day he could come ashore to be with the woman he loved. Believing that his true love, the sea goddess Calypso, had abandoned him when he did come ashore, he abandoned his duty and became the monster he is now as a result. While caressing her locket, she reminisces that he was once human.

It is revealed that Tia Dalma is actually Calypso, bound into human form, and that she is actually more powerful than she first appeared in Dead Man's Chest. Her true motives for resurrecting Barbossa and Jack are unveiled when it is learned that both are Pirate Lords of the Brethren Court. Each has their respective "Pieces of Eight", the talismans necessary to free Calypso. She resurrected Barbossa to obtain his piece (which is whatever object is there at the time and Barbossa uses Ragetti's wooden/false eye), and aided Jack's rescue because his Piece went with him to Davy Jones' Locker. Upon arrival at Shipwreck Cove, she reminds Barbossa of her power by gripping his hand and temporarily rendering it skeletal. She angrily warns him that it was only by her power that he is alive again and to fulfill their agreement or else Barbossa would be doomed with death if she did not become released from her human bonds. Undeterred, Barbossa locks her in the brig until she is to be released from her human shell. She and her estranged lover, Davy Jones, briefly reunite while she is imprisoned. Calypso says she still feels deeply for Jones, and meets his anger for her failure to meet him on the appointed day by saying that Jones never would have loved her if not for her uncontrollable and unpredictable nature. Calypso also chastises him for abandoning his duty to ferry souls to the other world. It was because he neglected his charges that Jones corrupted his mind and soul and became a monster. Calypso is also furious that the Pirate Lords trapped her in her human form. Thus, her true motives are revealed: she plans to use her powers against the current court in revenge for the original act of turning her into a human. She will also fully give her love to Jones, and it appears they reconcile. When she touches Jones, he momentarily transforms back into the man he once was. Jones' parting words betray that his heart will always belong to her.

As the battle between the East India Trading Co. armada and the pirates looms, Barbossa burns the nine Pieces of Eight in an unsuccessful attempt to free Calypso. It is Ragetti who releases her by properly whispering the incantation, as if speaking to a lover "Calypso, I release you from your human bonds". Before Calypso is fully freed, Will tells her that it was Davy Jones who betrayed her by revealing to the first Brethren Court how to bind her into her human form, devastating and enraging her. Bound by ropes, she grows to nearly sixty feet high, towering over the crew. Barbossa asks that she fulfill their agreement and use her powers to aid the pirates. Laughing, "Malfaiteur en Tombeau, Crochir l'Esplanade, Dans l'Fond d'l'eau!". Speaking in a form of French Creole roughly translated, Calypso is saying "To your graves wrongdoers, I bend your path, to the depths of the sea", cursing the brethren court for binding her into human form. Calypso breaks free, transforming herself into thousands of small crabs that engulf the ship and flee into the sea. Her fury then creates a violent hurricane and maelstrom that becomes the battlefield between the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman. Instead of aiding a particular side, her wrath is vented both at the pirate lords for imprisoning her and Davy Jones for his betrayal. The extreme conditions of the storm neutralize both the Pearl's speed and the Dutchman's firepower, permitting a fair fight. Later, Jones' last word would be the name of his lover before he tumbled into the abyss she created, becoming part of the sea at last.

Personality and appearance

In Dead Man's Chest, Tia appears to be quite mysterious and enigmatic. Her personality is flirty and playful (coinciding with the legend that the sea-goddess Calypso was something of a seductress), and she likes talking in riddles, perhaps taking joy in allowing people to figure things out by themselves. She speaks in Jamaican Patois ("Him carve out 'im heart", etc.) with a typical West Indian accent, pronouncing her "th"'s as "d"'s. The movie-based comic series of the same name depicted Tia Dalma barefoot, which was seen in At World's End. Tia Dalma's name is an anagram of Dalmatia, a region whose coast was a haven for pirates when it was known as the Roman province of Illyricum and prior to that, the pirate kingdom of Illyria, ruled at one time by the pirate Queen Teuta.

In At World's End, when she is finally revealed as Calypso, she appears to be a stern but benevolent goddess, but if roused to anger, her fury knows no bounds.

Other appearances

In Kingdom Keepers, Tia Dalma appears near the fifth book of the series, Shell Game, as a member of the Overtakers. Having set up residence in Castaway Cay, she meets with Jafar, who had been sent by the Overtakers to bring her aboard the Dream. Serving as the guardian of the Overtakers' DHI server, she fights with Finn and Willa, only to be given a death threat unless she released Finn's mother from Overtaker control. In the sixth book, Dark Passage, she works with the witches Maleficent and the Evil Queen to bring Chernabog out of his stupor and back to full power; she burns a key flower and tricks Finn into fatally stabbing his best friend, allowing Chernabog to lick the blood and fully awaken. She is knocked out, and taken hostage by the Keepers. In the final book The Insider, Tia Dalma escapes custody and searches through the maze, freeing Chernabog and the Evil Queen, while collecting some of Maleficent's bones; she was horrified that a powerful praticioner of the black arts had been killed. She manipulates a supply driver for Disneyland to get herself and her allies to their new hideouts. She originally leads the attack against the Keepers in Toontown, but forfeits leadership to the Queen. Tia Dalma instead focused on the spell needed to resurrect Maleficent.

Notes and references

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