We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Peri.
A peri is a usually winged, fairy-like creature in Turkish folklore borrowed from the Persians. Peris fulfill a similar role to fairies in European folklore in that they are often depicted as spirits that can be either good or evil, helpful or harmful to humans.
In some stories, they are fallen angels who must do penance before they are allowed to reenter Paradise. In other stories, they are more akin to the djinn, and sometimes the term peri is used to distinguish good djinn from evil djinn. In these stories, the are depicted as being in constant battle with the evil djinn, who try to lock them in iron cages.
Because the term peri is feminine, when they take human form it is usually that of a beautiful maiden. There are also many folktales in which they disguise themselves as animals, such as fish or ravens. In these stories, they generally help people who show them kindness and punish those who are unkind.