So I was looking at a cartoon that featured a little drawing of a ghost this weekend. It was just a typical bedsheet ghost, but seeing it got me thinking. Why on earth do we draw ghosts like that? Where did it get started? I’ve spent a lot of time studying ghosts, but I’ve never given much thought to the iconic image we use to portray them. I had to do some googling.
What I found was pretty interesting. While some cultures portray ghosts as mists, or psychic energies, many think of them as physical beings. American culture (and some other cultures as well) tends to show them wearing clothing they wore while they were alive or what they were buried in.
The bedsheet ghost is believed to come from a time when people were sent to the grave in a burial shroud. The ‘sheet’ is what they would have risen from the grave with. Somehow that image has been carried over into our lives and culture. Just about every drawing or comic featuring ghosts has one of these little guys. A lot of ghost hunting groups use them as logos for their groups.
If you want to know a little more about it, here’s a site I found that talks more in depth about it.