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An Indian demon. In one of the Indian folktales he appears black as soot, with hair yellow as the lightning, looking like a thunder-cloud. He made himself a wreath of entrails and wore a sacrificial cord of hair; he gnawed the flesh of a man's head and drank blood out of a skull, thus adding him to the list of the world's vampires. In other stories, these rakshasas have formidable tusks, flaming hair, and insatiable hunger. They wander about the forests catching animals and eating them.

Rakshasas feature in the Hindu religious epic of the Ramayana. When the monkey god Hanuman goes to the city of Lanka in search of Sita, he sees rakshasas of many varied kinds, some disgusting in appearance, others quite beautiful.

"Some had long arms and fearful shapes; some were fat, others very lean, some were dwarfs, others exceedingly tall. Some had only one eye and others one ear. Some had monstrous bellies, hanging breasts, projecting teeth and crooked thighs; others were exceedingly beautiful in appearance and clothed in splendor. Some had two legs, some three legs and some four legs. Some had the heads of donkeys, some the heads of horses and some the heads of elephants."


Sutherland, Gail Hinich. The Disguises of the Demon: The Development of the Yaksa in Hinduism and Buddhism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991.