In Malaysian folklore, a Penanggal may be either a beautiful old or young woman who obtained her beauty through the active use of black magic, supernatural, mystical, or paranormal means which are most commonly described in local folklores to be dark or demonic in nature. Another cause where one becomes a Penanggal in Malaysian folklore is due to the result of a powerful curse or the actions of a demonic force, although this method is less common than the active use of black magic abovementioned.
The Penanggalan is usually a female midwife who has made a pact with the devil to gain supernatural powers. It is said that the midwife has broken a stipulation in the pact not to eat meat for 40 days; having broken the pact she has been forever cursed to become a bloodsucking vampire/demon. The midwife keeps a vat of vinegar in her house. After detaching her head and flying around in the night looking for blood the Penanggalan will come home and immerse her entrails in the vat of vinegar in order to shrink them for easy entry back into her body.
One version of the tale states that the Penanggal was once a beautiful woman or priestess, who was taking a ritual bath in a tub that once held vinegar. While bathing herself and in a state of concentration or meditation, a man entered the room without warning and startled her. The woman was so shocked that she jerked her head up to look, moving so quickly as to sever her head from her body, her organs and entrails pulling out of the neck opening. Enraged by what the man had done, she flew after him, a vicious head trailing organs and dripping venom. Her empty body was left behind in the vat. The Penanggal, thus, is said to carry an odor of vinegar with her wherever she flies, and returns to her body during the daytime, often posing as an ordinary mortal woman. However, a Penanggal can always be told from an ordinary woman by that odor of vinegar.
A pocong is an Indonesian or Malaysian ghost that is said to be the soul of a dead person trapped in their suit. The pocong suit (shroud) is used by Muslims to cover the body of the dead person. They cover the dead body with white fabric and tie the clothing over the head, under the feet, and on the neck. According to the native beliefs, the soul of a dead person will stay on the earth for 40 days after the death. When the ties aren't released after 40 days, the body is said to jump out from the grave to warn people that the soul need the bonds to be released. After the ties are released, the soul will leave the earth and never show up anymore. Because of the tie under the feet, the ghost can't walk. This causes the pocong to hop.
A Toyol or Tuyul is a mythical spirit in the Malay mythology of South-East Asia (notably Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore). It is a small child spirit invoked by a dukun (Indonesian shaman) or bomoh (Malay witch doctor) from a dead human foetus using black magic. It is possible to buy a toyol from such a bomoh.
A person who owns a toyol uses it mainly to steal things from other people, or to do mischief. According to a well-known superstition, if money or jewellery keeps disappearing mysteriously from your house, a toyol might be responsible. One way to ward off a toyol is to place some needles under your money, for toyols are afraid of being hurt by needles.
The Pontianak, Kuntilanak, Matianak or "Boentianak" (as known in Indonesia, sometimes shortened to just kunti) is a type of vampire in Malay folklore and Indonesian mythology, similar to the Langsuir. Pontianak are women who died during childbirth and became undead, seeking revenge and terrorizing villages. The name “pontianak” is reportedly a corruption of the Bahasa Indonesia “perempuan mati beranak”, or “she who has died in childbirth”
In folklore, a Pontianak usually announces its presence through baby cries or assumes the form of a beautiful lady and frightens or kills those unlucky enough to come too close. It disguises itself as a beautiful young woman mainly to attract its victim (usually male). Its presence can sometimes be detected by a nice floral fragrance identifiable as that of the Tuberose, followed by an awful stench afterward. In his 1977 short story collection The Consul’s File Paul Theroux posits that the phantom is an invention of Malay wives who wanted to discourage their husbands from random sexual encounters with women that they met on the road at night.
Gauging how far away a pontianak is by its cries is very tricky. The Malays believe that if the cry is soft it means that the pontianak is near, and if it is loud then it must be far. Some believe that if you hear a dog howling, that means that the pontianak is far away. But if a dog is whining, that means the Pontianak is nearby.
A Pontianak kills its victims by digging into their stomachs with its sharp fingernails and devouring their organs. Pontianaks must feed in this manner in order to survive. In some cases where the Pontianak desires revenge against a male individual, it rips out the sex organs with its hands. It is believed that Pontianaks locate prey by sniffing out clothes left outside to dry. For this reason, some Malays refuse to leave any article of clothing outside of their residences overnight.
Some believe that having a sharp object like a nail helps them fend off potential attacks by Pontianaks, the nail being used to plunge a hole at the back of the Pontianak's neck. It is believed that this will turn the Pontianak into a beautiful woman, until the nail is pulled off again. The Indonesian twist on this is to plunge the nail into the apex of the head of the kuntilanak. The Pontianak is associated with banana trees, and its spirit is said to reside in them during the day.
Langsuir is a version of Pontianak, popular in Malaysia as one of the deadliest vampires in Malay folklore. Different from the pontianak, which always appears as a beautiful woman to devour the victim, langsuir possess the victim and suck their blood from the inside, slowly killing them. It is believed that langsuir are women who suffered from laboring sickness (meroyan) and which resulted in the death of both mother and child in childbirth. Such a woman would turn in to a langsuir 40 days after her death. Portrayed as hideous, scary, vengeful and furious, the langsuir is further characterized as having red eyes, sharp claws, long hair, a green or white robe (most of the time), a rotten face with long fangs and the ability to fly. It is also believed that the langsuir has a hole behind its neck which is used to suck blood. If one puts the Langsuir's hair in this hole or cuts their claws, Langsuir will become human again. To prevent women from turning into langsuir, glass beads are put in the corpses mouth.
Hantu Raya in early Malay animism, refers to a supreme ghost or demon that acts as a double for a black magic practitioner. Like the Toyol it has a master. In Malay folklore, it is a spirit which is supposed to confer the owner with great powers. Hantu means ghost and raya, great, in Malay.
Hantu Raya is capable of materializing itself into another human being or animals and sometimes makes itself a double for the owner. Among its other trick is to form its owner's shape and sleep with the owner's partners. It can be used to perform heavy duties as commanded by its master, even to harm his enemies. It can also possess or cause death to other people if so ordered. Normally Hantu Raya feasts on ancak – an offering made for the spirits, containing: yellow glutinous rice, eggs, roasted chicken, rice flakes and a doll. In some cases Hantu Raya is offered the blood of a slaughtered animal as a sacrifice. Food offerings must strictly be observed in a timely manner, to avoid any harm caused by the hantu.
The Pelesit is reared by a woman as a shield for protection, guidance, and most probably as a weapon to harm other people. In that way it is associated with a black magic practitioner. It is the female version of Hantu Raya which confers great power on the owner.
In old Malay culture some people chose to live alone thus isolating themselves from society. They practiced black magic in order to gain strength, power, protection, beauty, but not popularity. Some gained a certain level of popularity or renown but there were others who remained in secrecy and refused to mingle with people.
This practice is popular among Malays who are animists and involved in the so-called Saka (the inheritance of a spirit from one generation to another). Pelesit is commonly associated with the grasshopper since it has the ability to turn itself into one. Some say it is the green sharp pointed-head grasshopper. Pelesit is one of the ghost mentioned in "Hikayat Abdullah", written by Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, much to the amusement of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, his employer.
Polong is Malay for a spirit enslaved by a man (most of the time) for personal use. Like the Hantu Raya and Toyol, it has a master. It is an unseen ghost that can be used by a black magic practitioner to harm someone. It is particularly meant to harm other people, especially when the owner has wicked intentions towards these people.
Polong is said to have been created from the blood of a murdered person and this blood is put into a bottle for one to two weeks before the spirit is invoked with incantations and magic spells.
After two weeks, the owner will start to hear sounds coming out of the bottle. It is the sound of crying. By then he should cut his finger and drain the blood into the bottle to feed the demon. This is the sign of allegiance and of loyalty to serve the master. The blood which feeds the demon is said to have tied both parties together: one as Master and the other as the servant.
No one has ever illustrated the figure of the demon but all agree that it is evil and hideous.
In East Malaysian Malays (Malays of Sarawak, Borneo Island, Malaysia) belief, polong is described as an egg-shaped flying fiery ball when it is sent to victims or when it is left out of the bottle.
During possession, a Polong will not listen to anyone except its owner. The owner will come and pretentiously exorcise the demon in order to get money from people. But in some cases a polong which is "sent out" by its owner refuses to free the body that it has attacked. In fact it goes a step further by causing more suffering to the victim. At this stage a Bomoh (witch-doctor) or spiritual leader such as an Imam is called to cast out the polong.
Many of them know that the polong is easily weakened by black pepper seeds (mix with oil and few cloves of garlic). Normally, the shaman will place the seeds on certain parts of the body to cast off the polong. If he is a Muslim, this may be followed by Quranic recitations. The tormented polong will cry and plead, asking for the recitations to cease. It will then confess to the shaman the name of its master. However, it is not uncommon for the polong to name some other person to misguide the pawang (shaman). Hence, the admission must be taken cautiously.
The Orang Minyak is one of a number of Malay ghost myths. Orang Minyak literally means 'oily man' in Malay.
According to one legend, popularised in the 1956 film Sumpah Orang Minyak (The Curse of the Oily Man) directed by and starring P. Ramlee, the orang minyak was a man who was cursed in an attempt to win back his love with magic. In this version, the devil offered to help the creature and give him powers of the black arts, but only if the orang minyak worshipped him and raped 21 virgins within a week. In another version it is under control of an evil bomoh or witch doctor. Another movie based on Orang Minyak was produced in 2007.
According to legend, in the 1960s the orang minyak lived around several Malaysian towns, where he raped young women. The orang minyak of the 1960s was described as human, naked and covered with oil (supposedly to make it difficult to catch). However, there were also stories of the orang minyak where it was supposedly supernatural in origin, or invisible to non-virgins, or both. The mass panic has also led to unmarried women, typically in student dormitories, borrowing sweaty clothes to give the impression to the orang minyak that they are with a man. Other defences supposedly include biting its left thumb and covering it in batik. In short, the orang minyak is a supernatural serial rapist that is hard to see and hard to catch. Some have speculated that the orang minyak is a regular criminal who uses black grease as a night-time camouflage. Due to the use of black grease, it makes the orang minyak hard to catch, as pursuers would not be able to hold on to him. However, in some encounters with the orang minyak, the situation is not explainable from a non-supernatural angle. Reputed sightings of the orang minyak, or events later ascribed to it, have continued with reduced frequency into the 2000s
Orang Bunian are supernatural beings in Malay legends, similar to elves.
They are said to exist in large communities, mimicking human social structures, with families and clans. Orang Bunian are said to inhabit the deep forests, far from human contact, but they are also known to live near human communities, and are even said to share the same houses as human families. Some hauntings are attributed to orang bunian.
Orang bunian possess great supernatural powers, and have been known to befriend and assist humans, in particular pawangs or bomohs (malay shamans). Orang bunian are known to abduct human children, and are often blamed for leading people astray in the deep forest. As orang bunian are very similar to human beings (except for the fact that they are usually 'ghaib' or 'halimunan', i.e. invisible and have supernatural powers) it is not unknown for them to intermarry with humans. Orang bunian live far longer than human beings. Stories are recounted of men who married orang bunian, but pining for their families they left behind, decided to leave the orang bunian. Upon their return to human society, they found that everyone they once knew has died, and that many years have passed--similar to the tales of Rip Van Winkle and of the elves of Germanic folklore.