A to Z Challenge Folklore

Djinn #folklore #AtoZChallenge

D is for Djinn

Learn more about the challenge here.

I’m doing folklore and book review posts to reach and please a larger audience. Previous years have shown select interest in both and to minimise blogging throughout the year, I’m focusing my efforts on April.

If you’d rather check out my book review for today, go here.

Learn more about the A to Z Challenge here.

The first time I saw a djinn was the Genie in Aladdin, voiced by Robin Williams. But there’s so much more to this creature than granting three wishes.

Flame djinn in a bottle. Image credit.


Persian Folklore by Ella C. Sykes [1901]

It is but a step from these legends to the ghouls, divs, jinns, and afreets, in which all Persians, even those who are well educated, have a firm belief.

Divs or Demons are supposed to take the form of cat¬ headed men with horns and hoofs, and the hero Rustum’s most celebrated exploit was the slaying of the great White Demon which lived in a cave on Mount Demavend. No Persian will, if possible, sleep alone at night, rich men usually hiring a mollah ) or priest, to share their bedroom, because they fear the demons, which have added powers during the darkness. For the same reason Persians will not eat anything cooked on the previous day, giving as their reason that a demon may have looked at it during the night.

Jinns and Afreets appear to be spirits of lesser power. They can turn themselves into animals at will, and it is on account of this that no Persian likes to kill dogs or cats, lest, being forcibly ousted from their dwelling-places, the angry demons may haunt those who have evicted them. For example, our house in the south of Persia was infested with cats, many of which my brother shot. A black one, however, eluded all his efforts, and our servants implored him not to try and kill it, as they insisted that it was really a jinn, which would do us all much injury if we molested it. The cat, however, at last fell a victim to the gun, and, as no catastrophe occurred, our servants took heart again. If a Persian is seized with an epileptic fit, his illness is laid at the door of the jinns, who are supposed to be beating the sufferer. On some of the plains round Kerman, the wind blows the sand into high columns, which whirl round and round with great swiftness, and these the Persians call jinns. They say that if a mollah , or priest, writes his good deeds on a piece of paper, and throws it into one of these whirls, that it will be transmuted into gold.

Djinn and a lamp. Image credit.

The Arabian Nights Entertainments by Andrew Lang [1886]

For two days Aladdin remained in the dark, crying and lamenting. At last he clasped his hands in prayer, and in so doing rubbed the ring, which the magician had forgotten to take from him. Immediately an enormous and frightful genie rose out of the earth, saying:

“What wouldst thou with me? I am the Slave of the Ring, and will obey thee in all things.”

Aladdin fearlessly replied: “Deliver me from this place!” whereupon the earth opened, and he found himself outside. As soon as his eyes could bear the light he went home, but fainted on the threshold. When he came to himself he told his mother what had passed, and showed her the lamp and the fruits he had gathered in the garden, which were in reality precious stones. He then asked for some food.

“Alas! child,” she said, “I have nothing in the house, but I have spun a little cotton and will go and sell it.”

Aladdin bade her keep her cotton, for he would sell the lamp instead. As it was very dirty she began to rub it, that it might fetch a higher price. Instantly a hideous genie appeared, and asked what she would have. She fainted away, but Aladdin, snatching the lamp, said boldly:

“Fetch me something to eat!”

The genie returned with a silver bowl, twelve silver plates containing rich meats, two silver cups, and two bottles of wine. Aladdin’s mother, when she came to herself, said:

“Whence comes this splendid feast?”

“Ask not, but eat,” replied Aladdin.

So they sat at breakfast till it was dinner-time, and Aladdin told his mother about the lamp. She begged him to sell it, and have nothing to do with devils.

Scary Djinn in a bottle. Image credit.

The Brass Bottle by F. Anstey [1900]

“You don’t think it has a genie inside, like the sealed jar the fisherman found in the ‘Arabian Nights’?” cried Sylvia. “What fun if it had!”

“By genie, I presume you mean a Jinnee, which is the more correct and scholarly term,” said the Professor. “Female, Jinneeyeh, and plural Jinn. No, I do not contemplate that as a probable contingency.

Djinn in a lamp. Image credit

The Fairy Mythology by Thomas Keightley [1892]

The Peries and Deevs of the modern Persians answer to the good and evil Jinn of the Arabs, of whose origin and nature we shall presently give an account. The same Suleymans ruled over them as over the Jinn, and both alike were punished for disobedience.

According to Arabian writers, there is a species of beings named Jinn or Jân (Jinnee m., Jinniyeh f. sing.), which were created and occupied the earth several thousand years before Adam. …they were formed of “smokeless fire,” i.e. the fire of the wind Simoom.

The Jinn are not immortal; they are to survive mankind, but to die before the general resurrection. Even at present many of them are slain by other Jinn, or by men; but chiefly by shooting-stars hurled at them from Heaven. The fire of which they were created, circulates in their veins instead of blood, and when they receive a mortal wound, it bursts forth and consumes them to ashes. They eat and drink, and propagate their species. Sometimes they unite with human beings, and the offspring partakes of the nature of both parents.

They have the power to make themselves visible and invisible at pleasure. They can assume the form of various animals, especially those of serpents, cats, and dogs. When they appear in the human form, that of the good Jinnee is usually of great beauty; that of the evil one, of hideous deformity, and sometimes of gigantic size.

…those men who, by means of talismans or magic arts, have been able to reduce them to obedience.

Element Encyclopedia of Fairies by Lucy Cooper


Shapeshifting spirits of Arabian mythology. There are many regional variations on the spelling; here djinn is used to indicate both singular and plural.

Djinn are described in Thomas Keightley’s The Fairy Mythology (1828) as spirits formed from smokeless fire, or the hot, dusty Simoom wind that blows across the Sahara and the Arabian peninsula. This fire is their life force and will erupt from their veins if they are injured, reducing them to nothing but ashes.


The English popularised form of the Arabic djinn… this form was adopted into English and is now most often associated with tales such as “Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp”, in which a wish-granting spirit is released by rubbing a magical lamp or bottle, while djinn is more often used to refer to the Middle Eastern beings of myth, religion and folklore.


A Berber term meaning “lady” and used as a term of respect when referring to a female djinn.

*More can be read in the book.

Female Djinn. Image credit.

Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore by Theresa Bane


Variations: Devi, Divs (Div), Drauga, DRUJ, Durugh

In Persian mythology a dev is a demon (DJINN) of war. They were created by ANGRA MAINYU, are immoral and ruthless, and intended to be the counterparts to the Amesha Spentas.

In present day Armenia, a dev is described as a gigantic being with an oversized head and eyes as large as bowls; some of them have only one eye but traditionally they had up to seven heads.


In being heard but never seen from Arabic writings, the hatif (“invisible speaker” or “one who cries out harshly”) typically appears as the giver of some needed advice, direction, warning, or wisdom to a character in a story through poetic verse. This is also a method by which a djinn (a race of demons) may choose to manifest and let its presence be known.

*More can be read in the book.

The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John & Caitlín Matthews


These are the primary species of demons in Arabic tradition and are widely known throughout most of the Islamic world, especially in the Sahara and parts of the northern and eastern Mediterranean. There are many variations to their names including Dgen, Dschin, Genie, Ginn, Jann, Jinn and Junun. There are actually several classes of Djinn, including the powerful Marid, the Afreet, the Shaytans and the Jann. Not all are evil and some can be helpful – like the Genie of the Lamp in the story of Aladdin. However, the majority are very ugly and savage in nature. They can take numerous shapes and have been known to appear as human beings, monsters, cats, ostriches, dogs and snakes. When they do take human form, it is often that of a beautiful woman, who may only be detected by the fact that the pupils of her eyes have vertical slits. The evil Djinn cause sandstorms and water spouts, and for this reason when the Zoba’ah, a whirlwind that forms itself into a pillar of sand stretching to enormous heights, sweeps across the desert the Arabs believe it to be caused by the flight of one of these evil demons. Almost the only defence against the Djinn is iron, and as in the traditions of European fairies, any iron object can bind them.

Djinn mate and produce families like human beings, and when they are thus domesticated they live in a far-off country called Jennistan, the capital of which is the City of Jewels. But the Djinn seem to be seldom in this place, as they are found mostly in wells, rivers, ruined places and, sometimes, in market places.

Stories are told of humans and Djinn marrying but while a human man may marry a female Djinn, a human female may not marry a male Djinn. The offspring of such marriages will appear human but have the magical abilities of the Djinn, including the power of flight, the ability to walk through walls, and extreme longevity. In general, Djinn are very hard to kill and are extremely long-lived, but men have found ways to kill them, and in their own wars the Djinn can destroy each other. It is also said that comets flung from heaven will kill them.

*More can be read in the book.

Further Reading:

Female Djinn. Image credit.

Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

The djinn were formed from smokeless fire, meaning the fiery wind of the Simoom. Though they aren’t immortal, they far outlive humans. They have their wars, their own land, their feasts and their affairs with humans. A child born of such a union has attributes from both parents. The djinn can also shapeshift into any animal, so ancient Persians were loath to kill cats and dogs for fear of retribution from the djinn they evicted from their home. When a djinn receives a mortal wound, it bursts into ashes, consumed by the fire within its veins. Djinn are able to be visible and invisible at will. They come in different sizes and shapes. Some humans have been able, through magical means, to enslave a djinn. Some djinn are malevolent, being seen as the reason for sandstorms, while others are helpful like the genie in the lamp from Arabian Nights.

Female Djinn. Image credit.

Djinn in Modern Culture


Genie. Image credit

The Genie is the tritagonist of Disney‘s 1992 animated feature film Aladdin. He is a larger-than-life jinn residing in a magic oil lamp originating from the Cave of Wonders. For thousands of years, the Genie served as a slave to whomever held ownership of his lamp, to which he was eternally bound unless granted freedom by a master. The Genie possesses phenomenal cosmic power that allows him to grant wishes, shapeshift, and transcend space and time.

The Genie is loosely based on the Genie of the Lamp featured in the One Thousand and One Nights folk tale, Aladdin

Learn more here.

Djinn book series by Laura Catherine (My Review)

She’s a Djinn, a genie-like creature with super powers and a love of dogs.

From the blurb

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust (My Review)

What if this div knows how to break your curse?

She almost let out a sob—not of sadness, but of relief. Of hope. Soraya had never seen a div in the flesh before, but her own flesh was itself a constant reminder of their existence, their power, their menace. It was a div that had condemned her and determined the entire course of her life.

Wasn’t it possible, then, that a div might save her, as well?

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Djinn in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Djinn

With fire running through their veins, these shapeshifting creatures can survive almost anywhere – even inside bottles and lamps as folklore suggests. Though capturing a djinn and stuffing it into a bottle is a very bad idea as the magic needed to do so and the consequences of that far outweighs any benefit from having a djinn at your beck and call.
Djinn enjoy terrifying humans and fae alike, so they go for the scariest, most grotesque features they can think up when appearing before others. Though they don’t mind handing out magical gifts, they like handing out curses more. A gift to protect can turn out to be a poisonous touch.
They have the power to turn into any creature or into a puff of smoke. Their main mission in life is to cause mayhem. Helpful djinn are as rare as a four-leaf clover. They are charismatic, charming, and chaotic.

Djinn translated to Afrikaans: Jinn.

See this fae in action in my writing:

Dark Fae (Origin of the Fae #7)

Remember that you can request all of my books from your local library!

Where did you first encounter djinn? What do you think of this wish-granting faery? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

You can now support my time in producing folklore posts (researching, writing and everything else involved) by buying me a coffee. This can be a once-off thing, or you can buy me coffee again in the future at your discretion.

*If you have difficulty commenting, check that you’ve ticked the data use block beneath the comment before leaving your comment. (Protecting your privacy per regulations.) If you’re still unable to comment, try enabling all cookies in your browser. On a device, like a tablet, go to settings, find your browser (eg Chrome), and uncheck “prevent cross-site tracking” AND “block all cookies.”

Want a taste of my writing? Sign up to my newsletter and get your free copy of Unseen, Faery Tales #2.

Success! You're on the list.
image credit https://pixabay.com/illustrations/ai-generated-fairy-wings-magic-8121013/

No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.

7 thoughts on “Djinn #folklore #AtoZChallenge”

  1. Wow, what an interesting post! I had no idea that iron is considered a weapon against the djinn — it’s so interesting how the traditions and beliefs about one magical creature can translate so fluently to other cultures, no matter the setting.

  2. What is it about us humans that we need to ascribe luck, good and bad, to the fae…
    Great piece of research in which your passion for the subject shows through Ronel!

  3. SO detailed! Aladdin was my first experience with a Djinn as well, and it remains one of my favorites to this day!

    ~Jayden R. Vincente
    Stopping by from A to Z
    Erotic Fiction Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *