In Persian, peris (in Persian پری Pari) are descended from fallen angels who have been denied paradise until they have done penance. In earlier sources they are described as agents of evil; later, they are benevolent. They are exquisite, winged, fairy-like creatures ranking between angels and evil spirits. They sometimes visit the realm of mortals.

Peris were the target of a lower level of evil beings called divs, who persecuted them by locking them in iron cages. This persecution was brought about by, as the divs perceived it, the peris' lack of sufficient self-esteem to join the rebellion against good.

Pari is a common Persian and Kurdish name for women. Also, a common Turkish name for women is Perihan, meaning queen of the fairies or Peri, meaning fairy.

In Thomas Moore's Paradise and the Peri in Lalla-Rookh, a Peri gains entrance to heaven after three attempts at giving an angel the gift most dear to God. The first attempt is "The last libation Liberty draws/From the heart that bleeds and breaks in her cause," to wit, a drop of blood from a young soldier killed for an attempt on the life of Mahmud of Ghazni. Next is a "Precious sigh/of pure, self-sacrificing love": a sigh stolen from the dying lips of a maiden who died with her lover of plague in the Ruwenzori rather than surviving in exile from the disease and the lover. The third gift, the one that gets the Peri into heaven, is a "Tear that, warm and meek/Dew'd that repentant sinner's cheek": the tear of an evil old man who repented upon seeing a child praying in the ruins of the Temple of the Sun at Balbec, Syria. Moore's tale was set to music, in an abridged German translation, by Robert Schumann and published as that composer's Op. 50. In Indian Mythology Pari (परी) is the equivalent of a fairy.

References in popular culture

In the BBC television series Doctor Who, a character by the name of Peri Brown appears alongside the lead character, the Doctor, played by Colin Baker. In the 1984 Doctor Who serial The Twin Dilemma, the Doctor, played by Colin Baker, upon suffering a mental breakdown after regenerating, turns on his friend and travelling companion, Peri. The Doctor states:

"You don't even know what a Peri is - do you, Peri? I'll tell you. A Peri is a good and beautiful fairy in Persian mythology. But before it became good - it was evil! And that's what you are - thoroughly EVIL!"

See also

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