Ghoul

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For other uses, see Ghoul (disambiguation).
"Amine Discovered with the Goule", from the story of Sidi Nouman, of the One Thousand and One Nights

A ghoul is a monster or evil spirit in Arabic mythology, associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh.[1] The term was first used in English literature in 1786, in William Beckford's Orientalist novel Vathek,[2] which describes the ghūl of Arabic folklore. In modern fiction, the term has often been used for a certain kind of undead monster. By extension, the word ghoul is also used in a derogatory sense to refer to a person who delights in the macabre, or whose profession is linked directly to death, such as a gravedigger or graverobber.

Early etymology[edit]

Ghoul is from the Arabic and Persian غول ghūl, from غال ghala, "to seize".[3] The term is etymologically related to Gallu, a Mesopotamian demon.[4][5]

Middle Eastern folklore[edit]

Ghouls gathering for combat in a Persian poetry

In ancient Arabian folklore, the ghūl (Arabic) dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. The ghul is a fiendish type of jinni believed to be sired by Iblis.[6]

A ghoul is also a desert-dwelling, shapeshifting, demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena. It lures unwary people into the desert wastes or abandoned places to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, drinks blood, steals coins, and eats the dead,[7] then taking the form of the person most recently eaten.

In the Arabic language, the female form is given as ghoulah[8] and the plural is ghilan.[citation needed] In colloquial Arabic, the term is sometimes used to describe a greedy or gluttonous individual.

In popular culture[edit]

It was not until Antoine Galland translated Arabian Nights into French that the western idea of Ghoul was introduced. Galland depicted the Ghoul as a monstrous creature that dwelled in cemeteries, feasting upon corpses. This definition of the Ghoul has persisted until modern times, with Ghouls appearing in literature, television and film, as well as video games.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Story of Sidi-Nouman". Retrieved 2012-07-05. 
  2. ^ "Ghoul Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com articles about Ghoul". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  3. ^ Robert Lebling (30 July 2010). Legends of the Fire Spirits: Jinn and Genies from Arabia to Zanzibar. I.B.Tauris. pp. 96–. ISBN 978-0-85773-063-3. 
  4. ^ Cramer, Marc (1979). The Devil Within. W.H. Allen. ISBN 978-0-491-02366-5. 
  5. ^ "Cultural Analysis, Volume 8, 2009: The Mythical Ghoul in Arabic Culture / Ahmed Al-Rawi". Socrates.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  6. ^ "ghoul". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 22, 2006. 
  7. ^ "ghoul". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved January 22, 2006. 
  8. ^ *Muhawi, Ibrahim, and Sharif Kanaana (1988). Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales. Berkeley: University of California Press. 
  9. ^ Al-Rawi, Ahmed K. (11 November 2009). "The Arabic Ghoul and its Western Transformation". Folklore. 120 (3): 291–306. doi:10.1080/00155870903219730. Retrieved 14 August 2014.