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Saturday April 22, 2006

Glossary of Malaysian ghosts

Pontianak or kuntilanak – A type of vampire in Malay folklore. 

Langsuir – A version of pontianak but said to be the deadliest banshee in Malay folklore. 

Manananggal – The spirit of an older, beautiful woman capable of severing its upper torso to fly into the night with huge bat wings to prey on unsuspecting pregnant women in their homes. 

Toyol – A mythical spirit in Malay mythology. It is a small creature created from a dead human foetus using black magic. 

Orang bunian – Said to inhabit jungles and are similar to elves except they are invisible to most people.  

Orang minyak (oily man) – According to history, Satan offered to grant worldly desires if the orang minyak raped 21 virgin girls within seven days and worship Satan as a God. These orang minyak usually douse themselves with oil and run around naked. Although the orang minyak is believed to be human, there are countless stories of them being related to the supernatural world. 

Orang halus (invisible people) – These dwarfs usually cannot be encountered unless one is purified by cleansing the body and wearing clean clothes. They live in the jungles and are conversant in Malay! 

Hantu galah – A male ghost, believed to be gigantic, with extremely long and thin limbs. 

Hantu pisang (a Mah Meri belief) – A beautiful ghost that is supposedly formed when the heart of the banana bud is pierced with a nail attached to a thread. 

Mumiai (pronounced moo-mee-eye) – A poltergeist who throws things around and attacks people who are especially lazy or criminal. – Compiled by Revathi Murugappan 

Mail bag

I’M glad someone finally decided to write something about one of Malaysia’s best kept secrets — hantu (ghosts). 

Let’s face it, the only ghosts our kids know these days are the Western variety (vampires, werewolves etc). 

I believe ghosts exist and they call the forest their home. I love the Supernatural Survival Tips that you had. It’s better to be safe than sorry. 

I just want to add another tip: if you see anything weird in the forest or on a lonely stretch of road at night, don’t acknowledge it or point it out. It might end up following you home. 

A Malay custom is to take a bath (wudu) when you return home at night before playing with your children. 

I would also like to further clarify on the term “buang hantu”(discarding ghosts). Some modern readers may have no clue as to what this means. 

Some people believe in acquiring ghosts for witchcraft, to improve business or for whatever greedy/selfish/evil intentions they may have. 

After a while, these beings may turn on them or be passed on to their children when they die, so the act of “buang hantu” means literally getting rid of the ghost/s. 

However, Islam forbids us to have anything to do with these beings. - Aswad 

Related Stories:
The healthy sceptics
The staunch disbelievers
Why ghosts are ghosts


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