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Shah Namah, the Persian Epic of the Kings Wellcome L0035191

The ghul or ghoul (plural: ghilan) are said to be offspring of Iblis who are shape-shifting cannibalistic and blood-drinking creatures that feed on the flesh of human beings, especially travelers, children or corpses stolen out of graves. There are several types of ghul. The most feared is a female type (ghula) which has the ability to appear as a normal, mortal woman. According to lore, such a creature marries an unsuspecting man, who becomes her prey.

The ghul are nocturnal creatures who inhabit graveyards, ruins and other lonely places. Sometimes they are described as dead humans who sleep for long periods in secret graves, then awake, rise and feast on both the living and the dead. Ghul also personify the unknown terrors held by the desert.

In Persian lore the ghul has the legs of a donkey and the horns of a goat. Some are small enough to ride on hares, others ride on ostriches. Another desert type is known as the udar. Female types, living in the forest, may carry men off to their caves and seduce them. Males do the same thing with women. The offspring of such matings are fierce savages. Ghuls that live in the Sahara are said to have the legs of an ostrich and only one eye. In some accounts, the ghul is the male, and the female version is the ghoula, ghulah or si'la. Some female types are said to play the flute so that men hearing their music will dance themselves to death.

The Siltim, Saydanah, Khay'al, Khayla', Khawla', Khaytur, Samarmarah, Summa', 'Awlaq, 'Aluq, Hayra'ah, Hay'arah, Mald, and the 'Afarnah are names of the ghuls.

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