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The word mogwai is the transliteration of the Cantonese word 魔鬼 (Jyutping: mo1 gwai2; Standard Chinese: 魔鬼; pinyin: móguǐ) meaning "monster", "evil spirit", "devil" or "demon".

In Chinese cultureEdit

According to Chinese tradition, mogwai are certain demons, which often inflict harm on humans. They are said to reproduce sexually during mating seasons triggered by the coming of rain. Supposedly, they take care to breed at these times because rain signifies rich and full times ahead.[1]

The term "mo" derives from the Sanskrit "Mara", meaning 'evil beings' (literally "death"). In Hinduism and Buddhism, Mara determines fates of death and desire that tether people to an unending cycle of reincarnation and suffering. He leads people to sin, misdeeds and self-destruction.[2] Meanwhile, "gui" does not necessarily mean 'evil' or demonic spirits. Classically, it simply means deceased spirits or souls of the dead. Nevertheless, in modern Chinese, it has evolved to refer usually to the dead spirits or ghosts of non-family members that may take vengeance on living humans who caused them pain when they were still living. It is common for the living to redress their sins by sacrificing money to gui by burning (usually fake) paper banknotes so that gui can have funds to use in their afterlife.

Notably, the modern popular use of mogui as 'demonic' and gui as 'devils' is somewhat a consequence of Western influences as Chinese-language biblical texts translate the Satan in the Book of Job and the Greek term 'diabolos' as mogui.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Qiguang Zhao, "Chinese Mythology in the Context of Hydraulic Society," Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 48, No. 2 (1989), pp. 231-246.
  2. ^ MARA on via Web Archive