A to Z Challenge Folklore

Two-Faced Kishi #folklore #AtoZChallenge

K is for Kishi

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.

I learned about this monster years ago while researching monsters from African folklore.


Bantu Beliefs and Magic by C. W. Hobley [1922]

…The whole phenomenon rather reminds one of the ancient accounts of demoniacal possession. According to Goodrich Freer a peculiar kind of possession, called bonda, is said to attack women in Abyssinia. Here again all their demands for dress, food, and trifles of any sort must be strictly attended to. They sometimes mimic a hyæna.

African Mythology A to Z by Patricia Ann Lynch

Makishi (singular: kishi) Many-headed monsters that killed the culture hero Kimanaueze, according
to the Ambundu of Angola.

*More can be read in the book.

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

Kishi, plural: makishi

A species of malevolent monster from Angolan folklore, the hill-dwelling kishi has two faces, one of a handsome man and the other of a ravenous hyena it hides by growing its hair long or by wearing a headdress. Alluring and charming, the kishi enters into a village, courts the most attractive woman it can and lures her off to a secluded location where it reveals its true face, that of the hyena. The kishi will terrorize its victim before killing and consuming her as it needs to feed off of the fear of the person as much as it needs to eat the flesh. Brave, crafty, cunning, and strong, the kishi has extremely powerful lockable jaws which guarantee its first bite is always fatal. Fortunately the kishi can be warded off with fire and magic need not be employed in its destruction, as ordinary weapons can kill it; however, it is very unlikely it could ever be killed in one-on-one combat. According to the Ambundu tribe of Angola, it was a kishi which killed the cultural hero Kimanaueze.

*More can be read in the book.

The Kishi. Image credit.

Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures by Theresa Bane


The Kimbundu people of Angola believe in a fast and agile vampiric AQUEOUS DEMON named kishi. In its true form it has two heads or appears as a hyena with large teeth and powerful jaws. It can shape-shift into a man or a skull. In its human guise it will take a wife and impregnate her as quickly as possible. After she gives birth to its child, the kishi will kill her. It will then raise the two-headed monstrosity (one head of a man and the other of a hyena) in its home under the sea, where the child will become a flesh eater like its father.

*More can be read in the book.

Further Reading:

Kishi. Image credit

Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

Like most African fae, there’s not a lot written about the kishi. This two-faced creature from Angola has a handsome human face and a hyena face as the back of his head that he hides with long hair. They dwell in the hills and go into villages to seduce young women who they then terrorise and feed on. Just like a hyena, it’s impossible to escape the jaws of a kishi. According to the Amundu tribe of Angola, a kishi killed the cultural hero Kimanaueze. In most lore, the kishi takes a human wife who he then impregnates and once she’s delivered the babe, she is killed – either by her husband or by her kishi baby.

The lesson here: stay away from charming, handsome strangers or they’ll rip your face off with their hyena jaws.

Kishi in Modern Culture

The only book I could find was this one:

The Kishi by Antoine Bandele (My Review)

“He’ll trick you.” Yejide tugged at Amana’s shoulder. “It’s the way of his kind. He’s a kishi, like from the songs.”

“What’s a kishi?” Nya asked.

“It is the demon that plagued our land many years ago,” Nanga said from behind the group, his spear in hand. He turned to Amana. “We all suspected it’s what you saw last night. But we wanted to believe it was just a shape-shifter.”

“What’s the difference?” Amana asked, keeping his eyes locked on Ikenna.

“The kishi are much, much worse.” Nanga bent his knees, readying himself to attack. “They hide in plain sight. They could be our neighbors, our family, our friends … or the sons of war heroes. They’re charming enough when you get to know them, but hidden behind their heads are those filthy hyena-heads.”

The Kishi by Antoine Bandele

Kishi in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Kishi

Singular: Kishi. Plural: Makishi.
Extremely handsome men, they look like airbrushed models.
They have long hair, like in centuries gone by. Their luscious locks hide their hyena faces at the back. 
They prefer to live in mountains and hills. Their caves smell awful and is filled with the skeletons of previous meals. 
They have a Stone of Power that gives them their magic and has the ability to block or absorb the powers of other magic users.
They enjoy the fear they provoke and feed off it as much as the flesh of their victims. Though there are only male kishi, they mate with humans to bring forth more offspring. The women are eaten by the pack after she’s given birth.

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 encounter the kishi for the first time? What do you think of this creature? Any folklore about the kishi you’d like to share? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

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image credit https://pixabay.com/illustrations/ai-generated-fairy-wings-magic-8121013/

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

9 thoughts on “Two-Faced Kishi #folklore #AtoZChallenge”

  1. I wonder if this legend is based on schizophrenia or a medical condition like urinary track infection which causes a person’s personality to change.

  2. Well at least one book on the subject. I can’t believe all the research you did. Just your research you shared would be to scary for me to get through and I don’t read anything or watching movies with demoniacal-possession themes. This just freaks me out. I guess everybody has their likes and dislikes, and different things make different people nervous. I don’t need happy ever after, but the demonic stuff sometimes these me helpless and without hope.
    Very informative post. I’ll pass it along to my one daughter who loves this stuff. She probably read the book.

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