From various women who died during childbirth to spirits in bottles, we Malaysians sure have lots of scarier ghosts than the western ones.
Since it’s Halloween, there are lots of talks about ghosts, right? But the ones shown during Halloween are just Western ones. If you grew up in Malaysia, you must’ve heard about our ghosts and ghouls too.
Not to brag, but our ghosts are definitely more gory and terrifying compared to the Western ones. Ask any Malaysian.
So to fight their Bloody Mary or Dracula, we have our own Kak Langsuir and Karak Volkswagen to scare us senseless. The question is, how many of these Malaysian terrifying ghosts do you recognize?
P/S: This article doesn’t really have many real pictures because the writer is terribly scared looking at the pictures while researching this. She unconsciously imagines them at night. 🙁
Here are some of the Malaysian ghosts you may or may not know roaming around rent-free in our country:
Hantu Raya is considered the king of ghosts here in Malaysia because of their name “Raya” which means “great” in Malay. And no, they don’t roam actively during Hari Raya, if that’s what you think. According to Malay culture, “Raya” here means that they’re the biggest, fiercest and majestic ones. If only they had a ghost competition to officially determine who’s the best.
Although they can appear in many forms, including humans and animals, their true form is a black hairy figure with rough grey skin, long sharp teeth and classic red eyes. They can stand tall at 2 to 10 feet. Heck, they can even be as tall as the trees.
(Credit: Ake Jadian Nyeri, Auzaie Ishak)
Most Hantu Raya have owners (saka) and some don’t. Saka refers to a spirit that is tied to an owner and is inherited from generations. They’re popular in rural areas where their owners use them to guard farms, fields, and others. Besides tending to their owner’s properties, they are often used by shamans to bring havoc to their enemies. They could harm people, causing miscarriages and even death, in some cases.
Owners usually feed them with “acak” or ghost offerings, which may include eggs, roasted chicken, yellow glutinous rice, rice flakes and so on. Animal blood is also one of their favourite delicacies. If an owner dies without passing them down to another heir or setting them free, it is said that their body will be a living corpse, possessed by the Hantu Raya.
Hey at least you know your “pet” is definitely loyal, right?
Langsuir / Langsuyar
Langsuirs and Pontianaks are both vampiric female ghosts with similar looks: white clothes covered in blood, messy hair, long nails and a penchant for eerie laughter. They both attack men particularly and have an affinity for babies. They can transform into beautiful women to lure victims and change upon close proximity.
Some believe Langsuirs are mothers who died during childbirth, while Pontianaks are spirits of stillborn babies. Others say Pontianaks were pregnant women who died, and Langsuirs are women who died during childbirth. They share so many similar features, maybe they’re sisters!
Despite their similarities, Langsuirs are often linked to trees and flying, while Pontianaks stay on the ground. Langsuirs are known for their extremely long hair that reaches down to their ankles, and some even believe their hands extend all the way to their feet. Some believe Pontianaks seek vengeance, while Langsuirs attack for the thrill of blood. Langsuirs are known to sing melodiously when not laughing eerily.
To prevent a woman from becoming a Langsuirs, ancient practices involved placing glass beads in the mouth, a hen’s egg under the armpits, and needles in the palms of a female corpse. This would hinder her from shrieking or flying due to the egg and pins.
Well, whichever is it, if you ever encounter one, it’s safe to assume that we all wouldn’t stick around to find out the type, the best course of action is to RUN!
Ba Jiao Gui (Banana Tree Ghost)
Ba Jiao Gui is a Banana Tree Ghost according to Chinese folklore. Yes, due to the name, they are found near banana trees. It may sound funny but did you know that they’re considered the same as the Malay Pontianak? But this one favours banana trees the most.
Ba Jiao Gui is a female ghost who wails at night, sometimes carrying a baby. Opportunists love these ladies as they often ask them to win lottery numbers in exchange for Ba Jiao Gui’s freedom.
According to folklore, one can summon her by tying a red string around a banana tree and securing it with sharp nails. They have to tie the other end to their bed so that the ghost can follow them home.
When the ghost appears, she will ask them to let her free from the piercing nails, and the opportunist can use this to ask for what he wants (usually lottery numbers). If the person doesn’t fulfil the promise of setting Ba Jiao Gui free after they won the lottery, the consequences will be deadly!
Hantu Kamba (Kamba Ghost)
Although this may just be a myth to scare off the kids, the Kamba Ghost is very popular among Sarawakian kids.
Hantu Kamba is a spirit that hunts kids who play outside their homes from late afternoon until dusk. The Iban people believe that Hantu Kamba prefers to conceal itself behind trees or bushes. This is considered their version of Nenek Kebayan.
The Kamba Ghost will usually ask the kids to play a hide-and-seek game with her. Children hidden by her would vanish from plain sight even though they’re just a stone’s throw away from other people. It’s like they’re wearing the invisibility cloak!
Hantu Kamba likes to hide the victims in bushes, around large trees, at the base of hills, in abandoned huts and even within hours compounds. She can hide them for as quick as two hours to as long as a week! She will only end the hide-and-seek game after she feels satisfied after punishing the “stubborn child”.
This is an excellent story to tell your naughty kids!
Polong is a type of spirit kept in a glass bottle. Although it doesn’t have a specific shape, some people imagine it as a tiny, inch-sized female figure. Polong is used by the owner (a type of saka too) to inflict pain, chaos and death on his enemies.
According to Malay beliefs, the Polong is created by placing the blood of a murder victim in a long-necked glass bottle. After some black magic incantations and worshipping, the bottle will emit a shriek after seven days or two weeks. The owner has to cut his finger and feed his blood to the Polong. Only then will the Polong be bound to the owner and carry out his commands.
Polong are used to attack a person who has ill-willed intentions against the owner. Victims of polong will usually have unexplained bruises on their bodies. And if they die, they will have blood coming out of their mouth. Polong will work with Pelesit hand in hand. Pelesit will target the person by entering their bodies through the mouth, and the Polong will sense the pelesit in the targeted body and do its magic.
In other cases, Polong is also believed to be in the shape of a fireball when they travel outside of their bottles. If you see a fireball suddenly going towards someone’s house, just by pointing at it and saying “Allahu Akbar”, it’ll supposedly explode and disappear.
Well, glad there’s an easy way to destroy it, isn’t it?
The Japanese occupation of Malaya happened between 1941 and 1945 during World War II. According to urban legends, the Japanese army had a spiritual belief that they would be resurrected and be back to the place they were killed.
Hence, there were many stories of creepy places haunted by these Japanese ghosts. Some of them included boarding schools, government offices and important buildings that existed during WWII and were once used as their military base.
One of the popular stories about Japanese soldiers is that they often behead their prisoners. Some people claimed to have seen these ghosts of Japanese soldiers marching around the campus at night, completely headless. Some just heard marching boots and the rattling of chains. Some also heard the sounds of screaming or whispers of soldiers in Japanese.
But are those ghost stories even real? Nobody knows.
Antu Buyu (Buyu Ghost)
Another ghost in the Iban community is Antu Buyu. This ghost is considered one of the strongest and most terrifying for them.
Antu Buyu is a spirit that haunts women or children. They can take the form of various animals such as deer, crocodiles, monkeys, snakes or other animals. Like Hantu Raya, they can take the form of attractive men or women too. These spirits are found in various places such as the longhouses, gardens, or the roof of a house.
Apparently having one type of antu Buyu is not enough as they have 5 different variations. The first one is known as “buyu anak”, which kills infant girls before they grow up. Second, is “buyu asa”, which targets pregnant women before they give birth. The third is “buyu meruk”, also harming pregnant women and causing complications during childbirth. The fourth is “buyu nyangkai”, which affects people who are sick for a long time, making them weak. The last one is “buyu resa”, which harms women who are menstruating.
Antu Buyu may also act as a companion or fiance for unmarried men or women, causing confusion and madness. They can also cause some individuals to self-harm while in a trance, which can lead to death.
Well, seems like they covered everything.
Kum Kum Ghost
Hantu Kum-Kum is a popular story of an old ugly woman seeking young virgin girls for their blood to regain youth and beauty. Think of it as Rapunzel’s witch, but well, Islamic. She’s known to adorn a jilbab (long female garment like Jubah / robe), a headscarf and purdah (face-covering veil) to hide her appearance.
The story started when a woman went to a shaman to restore her beauty using black magic. The shaman helped her but had one weird condition, she couldn’t look herself in the mirror for 10 days (some say a month). Since the trip to the shaman, everyone praised her complexion and beauty which made her question with pride, how gorgeous was she?
Like any other impatient antagonist, she finally looked at her reflection on the final day. Guess what? The mirror cracked! At that moment, her face turned uglier than before. She begged the shaman for his help but he couldn’t help her with it anymore, except for giving one advice.
The only way she can get her beauty back is to drink the blood of virgin girls (some say she has to put a virgin’s menstrual blood over her face). Since then, she has been knocking on women’s doors, sinisterly hoping to drink their blood.
As she is in fact, a ghost or shaytan, if you have it, she can’t pronounce the Islamic greeting “Assalammualaikum”, so she resorts to just Kum Kum.
So when somebody knocks on your door and says Kum Kum, ignore it! Dont say Kumsalam Kumsalam back okay?
Yellow Volkswagen at Karak Highway
Karak Highway is considered a very famous haunted highway for Malaysians. The long, windy and dark highway stretches over 60 km and has had many accidents there. The largest crash that happened there took place in 1990 when a bus carrying passengers collided with a lorry, an FRU truck, two taxis, and six cars, claiming 17 lives. There are a lot of alleged ghost sightings there, such as the little boy in uniform, the human-eating ghost, the eerie radio call and more.
But by far the most popular story is the Yellow Volkswagen (VW) Beetle. It is said that on a silent and shadowy night, while cruising through the Karak Highway, you might see a Yellow VW in front of you. The VW Beetle will then steadily block your lane and drive slowly, making you overtake it.
As you continue journey, you’ll witness the yellow VW again miraculously in front of you. Every time you try to overtake it, it will just pop up in front later. By the time you inspect the car clearly, you’ll notice that there’s no one in the driver’s seat! Legend has it that the yellow VW is the cause of many road accidents there. It’s like a harbinger of doom.
The origin of this story is traced back to a grim chapter between a couple. It is said that the VW belonged to a man and his unfaithful wife killed him brutally. She took possession of the car and met a deadly end at the Karak highway. Ever since the accident, the man’s spiteful spirit was said to be longing for the car and fueling it.
So, these are a few of Malaysia’s ghosts that wander around lonely streets or empty homes at night. However, you have to remember, that these are just urban legends and myths.
If your faith is strong, then nothing’s gonna happen to you. Although, it also wouldn’t hurt for you to be respectful if you’re crossing an old route in the jungle or a dilapidated place, just so you won’t anger what’s supposedly there.
By the way, we also did a Part 1 in case you’re wondering where Kak Ponti is. She’s here guys. Go check her out.
Have you ever witnessed any of these spirits? Do you know some other ghosts that we need to talk about? Share them in the comments and maybe we’ll do a Part 3!