Djinni

Little Peop ie of Southeast Asia.

Etymology: Arabic (Semitic), possibly a borrowing from the Latin genius ("guardian spirit of a man or place"). Plural, Djinn.

Variant names: Cin (Turkish), Djihin, Djin (Djinniyah for the female), Genie (English), Jann (in Iran), Jinni.

Physical description: Body is composed of vapor or smokeless flame. In Malay folklore, Djinni is used as a polite equivalent for an evil spirit (hantu).

Behavior: Nocturnal. Intelligent. Capable of appearing in different forms, including a black cat, goat, Black Dog, duck, hen, buffalo, fox, snake, or human.

Habitat: Ruined houses, cisterns, rivers, wells, crossroads, markets.

Distribution: Malaysia; Indonesia; Iran; elsewhere in the Islamic world. Possible explanations:

(1) In pre-Islamic Arabia, Djinn were elemental nymphs and spirits of the desert.

(2) In Islamic metaphysics, Djinn are supernatural beings.

(3) In popular culture, Djinni is a general folkloric name for many types of indigenous spirits.

Sources: B. Lewis, Ch. Pellat, and J. Schacht, eds., Encyclopedia oflslam: New Edition (Leiden, the Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1965), vol. 2, pp. 546-550; Jorge Luis Borges, The Book oflmaginary Beings (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1969), pp. 133-134.

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