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Vengeful ghost

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Vengeful ghost

Vengeful ghost
The spirit of the vengeful priest Raigo returns as a rat plague and destroys the Mii Temple. T. Yoshitoshi 1891
Grouping Legendary creature
Sub grouping Ghost, undead
Similar creatures Revenant
Other name(s) Vengeful spirit
Region The Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa
As a husband passes by the place where his pregnant wife was brutally murdered, her ghost appears and hands their child to him. She then tells him the story of her murder and assists him as he takes revenge for her death. Utagawa Kuniyoshi 1845

In mythology and folklore, a vengeful ghost or vengeful spirit is said to be the spirit of a deceased person who returns from the afterlife to seek revenge for a cruel, unnatural or unjust death. In certain cultures where funeral and burial or cremation ceremonies are important, such vengeful spirits may also be considered as unhappy ghosts of individuals who have not been given a proper funeral.[1]

Cultural background

The concept of a vengeful ghost seeking retribution as a spirit for harm that it endured as a living person goes back to ancient times and is part of many cultures. According to such legends and beliefs, these kind of ghosts are dangerous and feared for they often have the ability to kill and inflict pain, roaming the world of the living as restless spirits, seeking to have their grievances redressed. They may not be satisfied until they have succeeded in punishing either their tormentors who made their life bitter, or .their murderers. They usually return to the world of the dead after justice is done, but in some cases may remain unappeased.[2]

In certain cultures vengeful ghosts are mostly female, said to be women that were unjustly treated during their lifetime. Such women or girls may have died in despair or the suffering they endured may have ended up in early death caused by the ill-treatment or torture they were subject to.[3][4]

Exorcisms and appeasement are among the religious and social customs practiced by various cultures in relation to the vengeful ghost. The northern Aché people group in Paraguay cremated old people thought to harbor dangerous vengeful spirits instead of giving them a customary burial.[5] In cases where the person has been killed and the body disposed of unceremoniously, the cadaver may be exhumed and reburied according to the proper funerary rituals in order to appease the spirit. Others have been known to salt and burn their body, the place where they were killed or the instrument that they were killed with.


Vengeful ghosts have been featured in many contemporary movies of different countries such as Candyman, The Grudge, The Pit and the Pendulum, Mostly Ghostly: Who Let the Ghosts Out?, Poltergeist, Ghost, The Fog, High Plains Drifter, The Ward, Cassadaga, Kaal, Left for Dead, Bees Saal Baad, Darling, Ragini MMS, Dark Shadows and the Troublesome Night film series, as well as television series Spooky Valentine, Spooky Nights, Charmed, Ghost Whisperer, Supernatural and the popular Thai television soap opera Raeng Ngao. They are also part of the theme of novels such as Tamír Triad and Tamsin, comics such as Gentleman Ghost and Judge Death, animated television series like Danny Phantom and adventure games such as Chzo Mythos.

List of vengeful ghosts

Ancient Rome

  • Lemures in Roman mythology are the wandering and vengeful spirits of those not afforded proper burial, funeral rites or affectionate cult by the living.[6]

Ancient Greece

British Isles


India and Pakistan


  • Onryō. A generic name of the Japanese folklore for ghosts (yūrei) who come back from purgatory for a wrong done to them during their lifetime. Onryō are mostly women and often manifest themselves in physical rather than spectral form.
    • Funayūrei (船幽霊 or 舟幽霊, lit. "boat spirit") are ghosts that have become vengeful spirits at sea. They are mentioned in the folklore of various areas of Japan.
    • Kuchisake-onna, the vengeful ghost of a woman mutilated by her husband
    • Mu-onna (無女), the vengeful spirit of a mother who lost her child to famine or war
    • Goryō. A certain type of spirits, usually the ghosts of martyrs, from Japanese mythology[15]

Latin America

  • Dama Branca, also known as Mulher de Branco meaning 'Woman in White' in Portuguese, is the ghost of a young woman who died of childbirth or violent causes in Brazilian mythology.[16]
  • La Llorona. Also known as 'Woman in White'. Can be a female spirit from Mexico who drowned her own children because her husband left her.
  • La Sayona. A female spirit who believed her husband had an affair with her mother in Venezuela and Colombia.
  • Patasola. A female spirit from South America that appears as a beautiful woman. She attracts men and lures them to the depths of the rainforest where she turns into a beast and devours the man.
  • Sihuanaba. A female spirit who had an affair and attacks unfaithful men in El Salvador.

North America

Southeast Asia

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Kentucky's Most Haunted: The Vengeful Ghost of Carl Pruitt
  3. ^ Henry Whitehead, The Village Gods of South India, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi 1988 (First ed. 1921), ISBN 978-8120601376
  4. ^ Xavier Romero-Frias, The Maldive Islanders, A Study of the Popular Culture of an Ancient Ocean Kingdom, Barcelona 1999, ISBN 84-7254-801-5
  5. ^ Pierre Clastres, Chronique des indiens Guayaki. Ce que savent les Aché, chasseurs nomades du Paraguay. Plon. Paris, 1972
  6. ^ St. Augustine, The City of God, 11.
  7. ^ Hesiod, Theogony 211, translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White
  8. ^ Crathes Castle
  9. ^ Nu Gui (女鬼) at the anime festival in Shenzhen, China
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Iwasaka, Michiko and Toelken, Barre. Ghosts and the Japanese: Cultural Experiences in Japanese Death Legends, Utah State University Press, 1994. ISBN 0-87421-179-4
  16. ^ É de arrepiar: Mulheres de Branco - Supernatural Brasil
  17. ^ Thai bookPhi Tai Hong
  18. ^ Ghosts in Thai Culture
  19. ^
  20. ^ Indonesian Ghosts

External links

  • Media related to Vengeful ghosts at Wikimedia Commons
  • Thai bookViolent Death
  • Beware of the Chinese Ghosts
  • Thailand, Types of Thai Ghosts and Spirits
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