Ghoul
Overview
 
A ghoul is a folkloric monster
Monster
A monster is any fictional creature, usually found in legends or horror fiction, that is somewhat hideous and may produce physical harm or mental fear by either its appearance or its actions...

 associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh, often classified as undead
Undead
Undead is a collective name for fictional, mythological, or legendary beings that are deceased and yet behave as if alive. Undead may be incorporeal, such as ghosts, or corporeal, such as vampires and zombies...

. The oldest surviving literature that mention ghouls is likely One Thousand and One Nights. The term is first attested in English in 1786, in William Beckford
William Beckford
William Beckford may refer to:* William Beckford , English businessman, often called "Alderman Beckford", father of William Thomas* William Beckford of Somerley , Jamaican slave-owner and writer...

's Orientalist
Orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

 novel Vathek
Vathek
Vathek is a Gothic novel written by William Beckford...

, which describes the ghūl of Arabian folklore.

By extension, the word ghoul is also used derogatorily to refer to a person who delights in the macabre
Macabre
In works of art, macabre is the quality of having a grim or ghastly atmosphere. Macabre works emphasize the details and symbols of death....

.
Ghoul is from the Arabic ghul, from ghala 'to seize'.
Encyclopedia
A ghoul is a folkloric monster
Monster
A monster is any fictional creature, usually found in legends or horror fiction, that is somewhat hideous and may produce physical harm or mental fear by either its appearance or its actions...

 associated with graveyards and consuming human flesh, often classified as undead
Undead
Undead is a collective name for fictional, mythological, or legendary beings that are deceased and yet behave as if alive. Undead may be incorporeal, such as ghosts, or corporeal, such as vampires and zombies...

. The oldest surviving literature that mention ghouls is likely One Thousand and One Nights. The term is first attested in English in 1786, in William Beckford
William Beckford
William Beckford may refer to:* William Beckford , English businessman, often called "Alderman Beckford", father of William Thomas* William Beckford of Somerley , Jamaican slave-owner and writer...

's Orientalist
Orientalism
Orientalism is a term used for the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, as well as having other meanings...

 novel Vathek
Vathek
Vathek is a Gothic novel written by William Beckford...

, which describes the ghūl of Arabian folklore.

By extension, the word ghoul is also used derogatorily to refer to a person who delights in the macabre
Macabre
In works of art, macabre is the quality of having a grim or ghastly atmosphere. Macabre works emphasize the details and symbols of death....

.

Early etymology

Ghoul is from the Arabic ghul, from ghala 'to seize'. Marc Cramer and others believe the term to be etymologically related to Gallu
Gallu
In Sumerian and Akkadian mythology, Gallu is a great underworld demon or devil.Gallu demons hauled unfortunate victims off to the underworld...

, a Mesopotamian demon.

In Arabian folklore

In ancient Arabian folklore
Arabian mythology
Arabian mythology comprises the ancient, pre-Islamic beliefs of the Arabs. Prior to Islam the Kaaba of Mecca was covered in symbols representing the myriad demons, djinn, demigods, or simply tribal gods and other assorted deities which represented the polytheistic culture of pre-Islamic Arabia...

, the ghūl (Arabic: غول , literally demon) dwells in burial grounds and other uninhabited places. The ghul is a devilish type of jinn
Genie
Jinn or genies are supernatural creatures in Arab folklore and Islamic teachings that occupy a parallel world to that of mankind. Together, jinn, humans and angels make up the three sentient creations of Allah. Religious sources say barely anything about them; however, the Qur'an mentions that...

 believed to be sired by Iblis.

The Arabian ghoul is a desert-dwelling, shape shifting
ShapeShifter
ShapeShifter is an Application Enhancer plugin for Mac OS X developed by Unsanity that allows the user to make system-wide modifications to the appearance of the operating system's graphical interface by applying GUI skins through “injection” into running code and without modifying system files,...

 demon that can assume the guise of an animal, especially a hyena
Hyena
Hyenas or Hyaenas are the animals of the family Hyaenidae of suborder feliforms of the Carnivora. It is the fourth smallest biological family in the Carnivora , and one of the smallest in the mammalia...

. It lures unwary travellers into the desert wastes to slay and devour them. The creature also preys on young children, robs graves, drinks blood, steals coins and eats the dead, taking on the form of the one they previously ate.

In the Arabic language, the female form is given as ghouleh and the plural is ghilan. In colloquial Arabic, the term is sometimes used to describe a greedy and/or gluttonous individual.

Other influences

The star Algol takes its name from the definite Arabic term الغول, "al-ghūl", "the demon".

Legends

According to legend, ghouls are perceived to be unintelligent and are primarily driven by their instinct to feed. They are nocturnal because they prefer the night to disguise their cannibal activities. Ghouls are known to be deterred by sun and artificial light, which is why it is thought that by burning a ghoul can kill them.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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