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Thursday October 31, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday October 31, 2013 MYT 8:59:21 AM
by chester 'bomoh negara' chin
Maya Karin played a pontianak in the film Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam 2.
Malaysian ghouls reflect the diversity of its living, breathing counterpart.
BEING a melting pot of various cultures and religions, it’s only natural that Malaysian ghosts and spirits should reflect the diversity of its living, breathing counterpart. Star2 lists down some of the ghouls and beings that haunt local folklore.
Arguably the most popular female ghostly entity on the list, the pontianak is said to be the spirit of a woman who dies in childbirth. As a matter of fact, the word “pontianak” is a corruption of perempuan mati beranak (woman who died in childbirth). The creature’s influence also extends to Indonesia where it even inspired the name of the city of Pontianak. Legend has it that the first sultan who settled there was haunted by the pontianak.
A toyol (or tuyul) is actually an infant spirit that’s invoked by a bomoh from a dead human foetus. Kept in a jar, the mischievous being answers to its master’s whims. These include petty crimes such as theft to more serious offences such as murder. However, the person who owns the toyol would have to feed it with blood every morning. Due to the fact that it’s dead, the toyol is rumoured to have a big head, small hands, clouded eyes and a greyish body.
Invisible to most humans except those with a sixth sense, orang bunian is often depicted as an Asian elf. It’s said that their appearance is nearly identical to humans. The bunian are said to inhabit areas far from humans such as deep forests or high mountains. They are often blamed when wanderers get lost in the wilderness or children go missing.
Pocong (Hantu bungkus)
Pocong is said to be a dead person’s soul trapped in its kain kafan (the shroud used in Malay burials). The dead body is tied in three places – over the head, around the neck and under the feet. According to traditional beliefs, a person’s soul will remain for 40 days on earth after his death. However, if the ties aren’t released, the body is rumoured to jump out from the grave and become a pocong. Due to the fact that its feet are tied together, the pocong can’t walk and hops instead.
A supreme demonic being that acts as a double for a person who practises black magic, hantu raya (translated to mean great ghost) is supposed to imbue in its owner great powers. It is said that the hantu raya is the master of all ghosts and leads its own underworld legion. The demon is able to materialise into another human being or animal. It feasts on ancak, an offering for spirits that contain yellow glutinous rice, eggs, roasted chicken, rice flakes and a doll.
Translated as “oily man”, the legend of the orang minyak is one that strikes fear among parents with young daughters. Some believe it’s a supernatural creature while others say that the orang minyak is a human warlock that coats himself with grease and terrorises young women.
At the height of the orang minyak legend in the 1960s, the mass panic led to many women, especially students living in dormitories, to borrow sweaty clothes to give the impression that they were with a man.
Jiangshi (Kiong Xi)
Depicted as a corpse dressed in official garments from the Qing Dynasty, the jiangshi is regarded as the Chinese vampire. It moves around (quite comically) by hopping with its arms outstretched and kills living creatures to absorb their “qi” (life force). The Chinese character for “jiang” in “jiangshi” means stiff and it’s rumoured that the jiangshi is so stiff that it is unable to move its head and limbs. One method to counter a jiangshi’s attack that is popularised by Hong Kong movies is to stick a fu (yellow talisman) on the creature’s head.
Ba Jiao Gui
Literally translated as banana ghost, ba jiao gui is a female ghost that lives in a banana tree and appears by the plant wailing at night. It’s been known in folk tales that greedy people will ask for “lucky numbers” from the ghost in hopes of striking a lottery. This is done by tying a red string around the tree trunk and sticking needles in it while the other end of the string is tied to their beds. When the ghost appears at night, she will beg the person to release her. In return, she will bestow a set of winning numbers. A horrible fate awaits those who fail to release the ghost after winning.
Nü gui (literally “female ghost”) is a vengeful female spirit. The lore revolves around women who committed suicide while wearing a red dress. Usually, the woman is a victim of injustice while she was still alive. and she will return to haunt those who wronged her.
One of the more famous ghosts in the Indian community, the mohini is believed to be women who committed suicide due to failure in love. After returning as a vengeful spirit, they are said to entice males and lead them away to their world, never to be seen again. According to some myths, the mohini appears as a beautiful woman with bells worn around her ankles.
Djinns, demons and hantu
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Entertainment, Lifestyle, Malaysian ghosts, pontianak, toyol, orang minyak, kiong xi, Hantu Raya
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