A nasnas (Arabic: نسناس nasnās) is a monstrous creature in Arab folklore. According to Edward Lane, the 19th century translator of The Thousand and One Nights, a nasnas is "half a human being; having half a head, half a body, one arm, one leg, with which it hops with much agility". In the Hadramaut they were eaten. A species having wings like bats lived on an island in the Sea of China.
It was believed to be the offspring of a demon called a Shiqq and a human being. A character in "The Story of the Sage and the Scholar", a tale from the collection, is turned into a nasnas after a magician applies kohl to one of his eyes. The nasnas is mentioned in Gustave Flaubert's The Temptation of Saint Anthony.
In the Siratu-n-Nabi and the Qisasu-l-Anbiya it is said that there is a kind of animal with the form of a man; they call them Maluf. They have a beautiful face, but cannot speak and have no power of understanding; and men seize them and go in unto them, and beget sons of them; but they (the sons) are dumb.
The Nasnās is built like half a man; it has one hand and one foot; he walks by jumps and he runs with great speed. Once it was found in Yemen and sometimes in non-Arab countries. The Arabs hunted and ate it. An Arab legend says that one day some travelers arrived in a country where there were many Nasnās. They cornered one, and it killed, and roasted it, yet it was very fat. When they had sat down to eat, one traveler said, “How did the Nasnās grow fat?” Another Nasnās who was hiding near there in a tree began to respond: "He ate mastic (Pistacia lentiscus), which is what made him fat.” The hunters, tipped off by this explanation, seized that nasnās and killed him. Another then said, in a tree where he was hiding, “If he had presence of mind, he would have been talking to himself instead of you.” The hunters took him in turn and killed him. At that moment, a fourth Nasnās, hidden in a hole in the ground, shouted: “I am cleverer, so I will say nothing!” He was immediately seized and put to death like the first. Travelers were thus provided with food. They say the Nasnās feed on fruits and plants and they are able to withstand thirst.
And in the country of Misr there is a kind of ape much resembling a man; these they call Nasnas. In body it is like a large ape, but the whole of their body is hairy, and they have tails. And the species Maluf, described above, contrary to this species of ape, lives in Eastern countries and has no tail, and the hair on their bodies is as it is on a man; and they have beautiful countenances; and in Farsi this is known as the Nasnas.
In a hadith it says that a tribe of ʿĀd rebelled against their prophet, so Allah turned them into Nasnas, each one of whom had a hand and a foot on one side of the body and who hopped like birds and grazed like beasts; it is also said that those have become extinct and that what currently exists of that form are a separate species, or that they are of three kinds—nas, nasnas, and nasanis; or that the nasanis are the females, or that they are a higher form than the nasnas, or that they are Yajuj and Majuj, or that they are a group of humans, or creatures that are in the shape of people but differ from them in certain things and are not them.
The Nesnás is described as resembling half a human being; having half a head, half a body, one arm, and one leg, with which it hops with much agility; as being found in the woods of al-Yemen; and that one was brought alive to al-Mutawekkil: it resembled a man in form, excepting that it had but half a face, which was in its breast, and a tail like that of a sheep. The people of Hadramót, it is added, eat it; and its flesh is sweet. It is only generated in their country. A man who went there asserted that he saw a captured Nesnás, which cried out for mercy, conjuring him by God and by himself. A race of people whose head is in the breast is described as inhabiting an island called Jábeh (supposed to be Java), in the Sea of al-Hind, or India. A kind of Nesnás is also described as inhabiting the Island of Ráïj, in the Sea of as-Seen, or China, and having wings like those of the bat.