|This article is about the voodoo priestess. You may be looking for the soundtrack theme, "Tia Dalma".|
5' 7" (1.7 m)
|Also known as|
|Ship(s) captained or crewed|
|Behind the scenes|
- "A touch... of destiny."
- ―Tia Dalma
Tia Dalma was a mysterious Caribbean soothsayer. A mystic who wields the power of voodoo-like magic, there was more to her than met the eye. Before she was known as Tia Dalma, she was the sea goddess Calypso, until the First Brethren Court tricked the goddess and imprisoned her into the body of a mortal woman, with the help of her former lover Davy Jones.
A woman of power, Tia Dalma resided deep within the bayou swamps of Cuba, in a sprawling wooden shack perched in a treetop by the mouth of the Pantano River. Some believed that judging Tia Dalma by her humble home was a mistake, as she had uncanny powers to foretell the future, to summon up demons, and to look deep into men's souls. She had devoted her powers to help anyone who needed it. So it was to this mysterious and beautiful mystic that Jack Sparrow occasionally turned to for help, who once provided him with his unique compass. Tia Dalma also had dealings with Angelica, who traded a ring in order to learn the Profane Ritual.
Over the years, the imprisoned Calypso assumed the alias of Tia Dalma. It wasn't until around the War Against Piracy that she gained an opportunity for freedom from her human bonds. Tia Dalma/Calypso needed all the Pirate Lords in order to assemble the Brethren, so they could release her from her human bonds. She resurrected Hector Barbossa and tricked him to retrieve Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones' Locker and summon a fourth meeting of the Brethren. Despite the Pirate Lords not having an agreement, Barbossa took all the Pieces of Eight, the powerful items that had imprisoned Calypso, and then undid the spell that bound her to mortal flesh. Now free, Calypso's wrath became horrible to behold, having discovered Davy Jones' betrayal. The enraged goddess created a massive maelstrom, where a battle raged at the center of it. And it was in that very battle that Davy Jones' heart was pierced and he died.
- "No worries, mates! Tia Dalma and I go way back. Thick as thieves. Nigh inseparable we are. Were. Have been. Before."
- ―Jack Sparrow
According to one particular legend, Tia Dalma was originally the sea goddess Calypso. Because she too had mortal blood, Calypso fell in love with a sailor named Davy Jones. She gave him the Flying Dutchman and the sacred task of collecting all the poor souls who died at sea, and ferrying them to the worlds beyond. Because of that love, Davy Jones agreed to set foot on land once every ten years, where Jones would be free to come ashore to be with Calypso. But when Davy Jones came ashore after his ten year duty, Calypso was nowhere to be found, for the seas are fickle and unpredictable, as was the powerful goddess who ruled that domain. And so, unbeknownst to Calypso, Davy Jones plotted with the First Brethren Court where they would tear the rule of the seas away from the sea goddess. Jones showed them how to bind her to human form using Pieces of Eight; and thus the Brethren "captured the Sea Goddess, and bound her in her bones," imprisoning her into the body of a mortal woman.
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. Unaware of the crucial role that her former inamorato, Jones, had played in her imprisonment, Calypso would be under the guise of Tia Dalma during her human sojourn.
A Voodoo priestess
- "I will show you the way of the dark arts. We begin with a trifle. Look upon it. The learnin' of the doll bein' the learnin' of its construction. Each must make their own."
- ―Tia Dalma
It was said that Tia Dalma had been practicing her ways since the waters were tamed. Let it just be stated that several generations fell under her spell and there are many who could tell interesting tales of their relationships with this enchantress. She appeared to be an eccentric, but her skills in the realm of magic were exceptional. By the 1710s, Tia Dalma was already established on the Pantano River in Cuba, and was renowned to be a great voodoo mystic in the Caribbean.
Little of Tia Dalma's past is known from this point on, save for an association with many pirates and adventurers 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 Jack with catnip; the means to return Constance Magliore to her human form, after Dalma herself transformed the girl into a cat. During Jack's quest for the Sun-and-stars amulet, Tia Dalma appeared in the swamps of Louisiana, not far from New Orleans, and spoke with Jack and his crewmember Fitzwilliam P. Dalton III. She advised them to find the golden gem and demanded something that Fitzwilliam lost to be handed over to her as a payment after the adventure.
One day the Pharaoh Taharka from the mystical 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. Around the same time, Tia Dalma met the notorious pirate James Sterling.
It was thought that Tia and Jack 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".
- "A shadow has been laid upon you, Jack."
"That part I know. What I want to know is how to lay it off."
- ―Tia Dalma and Jack Sparrow
When the mysterious Shadow Lord threatened to destroy the Brethren Court with his Shadow Army, Tia Dalma sent her zombie, Alex, to steal the Shadow Gold, a mystical elixir of great power in Shadow Lord's possession. The zombie successfully stole the elixir, but instead of giving all the vials to the greatest Pirate Lord as ordered, he gave almost all of them to almost all of the nine Pirate Lords. Tia Dalma summoned Jack to New Orleans, where she gave him one of the vials and instructed him how to find others. She also ordered Alex to join Jack's crew, so he could deliver Jack Tia's telepathic messages.  At the end of Jack's quest, Tia teleported onboard the Black Pearl, which was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. She wasn't pleased when she saw that Jack wasted the last vial, and she furiously disappeared, returning to her shack.
Around the late 1720s, the infamous pirate Jolly Roger formed an army of the undead to exact revenge on Jack Sparrow and make himself ruler of the Caribbean. During that conflict, many pirates came to Tia Dalma, seeking help and advice. She provided them with voodoo dolls and other magical talismans, but for a fair payment, though a bit unusual in the eyes of ordinary men.
Shortly before the War against piracy, Tia Dalma was visited by Angelica, the daughter of the infamous pirate Blackbeard. Tia Dalma gave her informations about the Profane Ritual, something which Angelica and Blackbeard needed for their search for the legendary Fountain of Youth. In exchange, Angelica gave her a ring which she received some years earlier from Jack Sparrow.
- "There'll be no knowing, here. We've come for help and we're not leaving without it. I thought I knew you."
"Not so well as I hoped."
- ―Jack Sparrow and Tia Dalma
Many years after she and Jack last parted ways, Sparrow returned to Tia Dalma in need of her assistance. Pursued across the Caribbean by the dreaded Kraken, Jack 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, William Turner, whose boyish good looks instantly charmed Tia. Jack was shocked when his old sweetheart ignored him and beamed an inviting smile at Will. Tia touched Will's face with her hand. "You have a touch of destiny about you, William Turner..." she told him; to Will's amazement, that she knew his name, though they had never met before. Jack, with more than a touch of jealousy wanted to get straight to business.
- "You have a touch of destiny about you, William Turner."
"You know me?"
"You want to know me."
- ―Tia Dalma and William Turner
A series of trades took place. Knowing Tia Dalma demanded payment, Jack Sparrow gave a cage with Jack the "undead monkey" trapped inside. Tia opened the cage to release the monkey, who ran toward a pair of boots of his old master, Captain Hector Barbossa. She then told Jack and his crew about Davy Jones, in part, while answering Will's question about Jones' Chest and its key. Having told Jack what he wanted to know, and discovering that Jack was marked with the Black Spot, Tia Dalma gave Jack a jar of dirt, so that he would always carry land, where he'd be safe from Jones. At Will Turner's request, Tia Dalma helped them to know where to find Davy Jones' ship, the Flying Dutchman, divined through "reading" crab claws. Jack's crew left the shack to continue their search for the Dead Man's Chest, 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.
Tia Dalma sailed with the rest of the crew to Singapore and took part in the fight against Lord Cutler Beckett's men. She went with the group as they sailed to Davy Jones' Locker. Her power let her command the crabs there to drag the Black Pearl back to the sea.
Release of Calypso
At Shipwreck Island, the Brethren Court decided not to release Calypso from her human form. However, having been able to steal all nine Pieces of Eight, Barbossa decided to do so anyway. As part of an incantation, he burned the Pieces of Eight and, with the assistance of Ragetti, spoke the words, "Calypso, I release you from your human bonds" as a lover would. Before Calypso could change into another shape, Will Turner revealed the name of the one who truly betrayed her by telling the First Brethren Court how to bind her: Davy Jones.
Enraged by this knowledge, Calypso began to change; she grew and became several stories tall in a matter of moments. Once she stopped growing, she looked down at the pirates. Barbossa approached and knelt before her. She listened to Barbossa's supplication, then cried out incomprehensibly in a deep voice, "Malfaiteur en tombeau, crochir l'esplanade, dans l'fond d'l'eau!", French for "Across all the seas, find the path to he who wrongfully entombed me!". Then Calypso appeared to crumble. She dissolved into the form of thousands of small crabs which fell to the deck of the ship, overflowed into the sea, and were gone.
Calypso showed her wrath by summoning a maelstrom and striking the sea with lightning and rain. She also gave "favorable winds" to both the pirates and the EITC Armada, thus enticing both sides to do battle. After Davy Jones was defeated, the maelstrom vanished and the weather was calm again.
- "And what fate have you planned for your captors?"
"The Brethren Court? All of them, the last thing they will learn in this life...is how cruel I can be. And what of your fate, Davy Jones?"
"My heart will always belong to you."
- ―Davy Jones and Tia Dalma
Personality and traits
- "Tia Dalma, out and about, eh? You add an agreeable sense of the macabre to any delirium."
- ―Jack Sparrow to Tia Dalma
A mystic with an eye keener than any pirate's, Tia Dalma was a practitioner of voodoo, a hoodoo priestess with fathomless powers. She resided in a tumbledown shack perched in a treetop above the swamps of the Cypress Forest at the mouth of the Pantano River. Some believed that judging Tia Dalma by her humble home was a mistake, as she had uncanny powers to foretell the future, to summon up demons, and to look deep into men's souls. So it was to this mysterious and beautiful mystic that Jack Sparrow occasionally turned to for help. Among her other traits, Tia Dalma was known to barter. She helped Jack Sparrow in his search for the Dead Man's Chest, using her crab claws to scry the location of the Flying Dutchman, and then joined on the journey to the Land of the Dead. Hector Barbossa was one of the few who knew that none other than Tia Dalma was the human incarnation of the goddess, Calypso. Barbossa persuaded Tia Dalma to join on the voyage to World's End, although it was so he could enact his scheme and release Calypso—fulfilling the deal that he made with her after she brought him back from the dead.
On her face, Tia Dalma had delicate patterns accentuating her hypnotic eyes. She also had a penchant for going barefoot. Tia Dalma's shack teemed with jars of weird objects, many of which used for her powerful incantations, including an iron-bound jar hanging from a rafter, filled with dozens of staring eyeballs. From a silver chain, usually worn around Tia Dalma's neck, hung a curious pendant, a magic necklace. Though the crab-shaped pendant was tarnished and has dulled with age, a mysterious face was still visible.
Tia Dalma was an extremely seductive creature who cast an enticing but tangled net. She had a natural talent for being playful and flirty. As soon as Will Turner entered her shack, his boyish good looks charmed Tia Dalma as she beamed an inviting smile at him. Jack Sparrow flattered himself that the grin was for him, but was shocked when his old sweetheart ignored him, and later touched Will's face with her hand. As a mysterious Caribbean soothsayer, Tia Dalma also liked talking in riddles, perhaps so others could solve them. Tia spoke with a thick West Indian accent, and all her "th"'s come out as "d"'s. Her language is Jamaican Patois, so she often uses grammatically West African syntactical phrases, such as, "him carve out him heart."
Equipment and skills
- "She has power. Real power. She's no one I'd want to cross."
- ―Jack Sparrow on Tia Dalma
Tia Dalma appeared to be an eccentric, but her skills in the realm of magic were exceptional. She could scry (although it was thought inexplicable that she used crab claws for this purpose) and could see through the cloud in a man's mind to his past and his future. She also possessed the ability to return the dead to life, as evidenced by having brought back Captain Barbossa to help navigate the weird and haunted shores at World's End to rescue Captain Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones's Locker. She was also fluent in making zombies, the undead beings who served their master without question. Her charms did not always effect good fortune, although her abilities were unquestionable.
Behind the scenes
- Tia Dalma was portrayed by Naomie Harris in Dead Man's Chest and At World's End. She was voiced by Julienne Buescher in the At World's End video game.
- Tia Dalma's habit of going barefoot is also mentioned in the non-canon novel series Kingdom Keepers, and is a plot point in one of the novels, The Insider.
- The makeup process which Naomie Harris needed to perform in order to create the costume of Tia Dalma deserved just twenty minutes. The makeup, according to Harris herself, was really light as it was sort of black and smudged lips and black tribal markings, in addition to other elements were like red eyes, a gold wig and false teeth, with the latter making her teeth to look busted.
- While not appearing in the fourth film On Stranger Tides, Naomie Harris stated that she was asked to do some Tia Dalma lines that would be said in the film by Penélope Cruz's character, Angelica. This was likely to reference the backstory between Tia Dalma and Angelica in the film's storyline. Writer Terry Rossio, however, was possibly unaware of this, as he said in retrospective that he doesn't see how Harris could have been given lines for a character she didn't play.
- 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 Pirates of the Caribbean Online Tia Dalma can be found on Cuba.
- "Malfaiteur en Tombeau, Crochir l'Esplanade, Dans l'Fond d'l'eau!", the phrase Calypso yells out when she is freed from her bonds, roughly translates to "Across all the seas, find the path to he who wrongfully entombed me!"
- Tia Dalma appears in the video game Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned. But, since that game was cancelled, it is unknown if Dalma's appearance in the game is canon or not.
- Pirates of the Caribbean (film series)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Visual Guide
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide
Notes and references
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (junior novelization), p. 65
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (video game)
- Bring Me That Horizon: The Making of Pirates of the Caribbean, p.86
- The Pirates' Guidelines, p.98
- Tia Dalma | Pirates of the Caribbean
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
- Jack Sparrow: The Sword of Cortés
- Jack Sparrow: City of Gold
- The Price of Freedom, Chapter 1: "Fair Winds and Black Shipss"
- The Price of Freedom, Chapter 11: "Pirates and Rogues"
- June 2006 - Pirates of the Caribbean: Interview with Noamie Harris at blackfilm.com
- Legends of the Brethren Court: The Caribbean
- Legends of the Brethren Court: Day of the Shadow
- Pirates of the Caribbean Online
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, p58-59: "Tia Dalma's Shack"
- Pirati dei Caraibi Magazine
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (comic)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (comic)
- Naomie Harris on the Incredible True Story Behind Her New Film (and Her Possible Pirates Return)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: The Visual Guide, p51.
- 2020 Interview with Terry Rossio