Seven lesser known demons and ghost in Malay folklore

19 Nov 2023 06:33pm
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TALES of malevolent spirits and demonic entities are no stranger in the macabre facade of Malay folklore.

Ask any Malay and you’ll be briefed with a bevy of eerie entities and their spine chilling origin and the nightmares they brought forth upon their victims.

Hantu Raya, Langsuir, Jenglot, Toyol, Pocong – these are the notorious specters that have etched their way into the collective consciousness of Malaysians.

Their stories are already known, their malevolence acknowledged.

Yet, lurking beneath the surface of these well-known entities, there exist lesser-known demons and ghosts, elusive and sinister, concealed within the quiet nooks of Malay mysticism.

Hantu Hutan

Also whispered as Hantu Rimba, reign as spectral guardians. They are not your typical phantoms; they are revered as the ancient and formidable overseers of the wilderness.

Considered the oldest and most potent of all ghosts, the Hantu Hutan commands respect from those who dare to tread into its sacred realm.

The jungle, their dominion, demands a cautious approach, where all who enter must seek permission and offer appeasements before felling trees, hunting creatures, plucking fruits, or traversing its enigmatic paths.

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Hantu Hutan. - Illustration by Sinar Daily
Hantu Hutan. - Illustration by Sinar Daily

But the terror does not end with mere decorum. The Hantu Hutan possesses an uncanny ability to transcend the boundaries of the living world. It is a shape-shifter, morphing seamlessly into the forms of animals, plants, trees, insects, and even the guise of a human.

These spectral entities predate the very existence of mankind, their ethereal presence haunting the earth since time immemorial. As you wander into the shadowy heart of the jungle, know that the Hantu Hutan watches, unseen and ancient, a guardian of the natural order, ready to unleash the primordial echoes of fear upon those who dare disturb its sanctity.

Hantu Balung Bidai

Though labeled a water spirit, it manifests a malevolence that transcends the serene image of its aquatic kin. Picture, if you will, a mat with ominous mouths adorning each corner, for this is the unsettling form this spectral entity takes.

Feared by fishermen who navigate the unpredictable seas, the Hantu Balung Bidai is no mere apparition – it is the harbinger of doom, believed to capsize small boats and sampans with a sinister intent to ensnare and drown those unfortunate enough to cross its path.

Hantu Balung Bidai. - Illustration by Sinar Daily
Hantu Balung Bidai. - Illustration by Sinar Daily

The maritime folk, wise to the treachery that lurks beneath the waves, embark on a ritualistic dance of protection before setting sail. Chants reverberate through the salty air, and offerings are cast into the sea as desperate pleas for safeguarding against the nefarious intentions of these spirits.

Children, with wide-eyed innocence, are sternly cautioned against the temptation of nocturnal swims in rivers and lakes. The Hantu Balung Bidai, it is warned, lies in wait beneath the rippling waters, ready to snatch unsuspecting souls into its watery grasp.

As night descends, the whispers of caution echo, a haunting reminder that even the seemingly innocent waters hold secrets of malevolence, and the Hantu Balung Bidai waits patiently to claim its prey.

Hantu Bajang

Beneath the veneer of darkness that cloaks the night, mischievous spirits known as Hantu Bajang, or Civet Cat Ghosts, emerge as the whimsical tormentors of unsuspecting souls.

Their spectral presence is not to be taken lightly, especially by children who, against the prudent advice of elders, dare to frolic in the twilight hours. To these playful apparitions, the laughter of children is an irresistible lure, and their favorite pastime is to taunt those who dare linger in the realm of shadows after the sun has set.

Hantu Bajang. - Illustration by Sinar Daily
Hantu Bajang. - Illustration by Sinar Daily

When darkness descends, and the air is pregnant with the potential for spectral mischief, beware the Hantu Bajang. For in their playful jests lies a malevolence known to leave a lingering mark on those unfortunate enough to cross its nocturnal path.

A chance meeting with this spectral trickster may not only curtail the mirth of the moment but plunge the unsuspecting victim into weeks of unexplained illness. In the silent hours of rainfall, be wary, for the spectral echoes of this enigmatic ghost may be closer than you dare to believe.

Hantu Anak Gua Batu

These ethereal beings, conjured by the mystical incantations of female shamans, find solace in the cavernous recesses, their supernatural essence entwined with the very bedrock of these subterranean realms.

For those who dare to tread the dimly lit paths of these caves, eyewitness accounts paint a chilling picture of the Hantu Anak Gua Batu. Imagine, if you will, floating entities with eyes aglow in an ominous shade of red, a spectral manifestation that defies the laws of the natural world.

Hantu Anak Gua Batu. - Illustration by Sinar Daily
Hantu Anak Gua Batu. - Illustration by Sinar Daily

In the hushed whispers of cave winds and the echoing silence, be mindful – for the Stone Cave Ghosts may be watching with their crimson gaze, a reminder that the ancient and the spectral coalesce in the heart of these subterranean sanctuaries.

It is said that these cave ghosts possess a shape-shifting prowess that mirrors the intricate features of stalactites and stalagmites, at times resembling innocuous objects such as cotton balls, only to reveal sharp, otherworldly features upon closer inspection.

Hantu Air

Beware the twilight hours by the riverside, where the Hantu Air roams, and the rippling waters conceal more than meets the eye.

In the dance between light and shadow, tread cautiously, for the spectral branches that drift along the river may be more than mere debris – they may be the guardians of a realm where the supernatural and the mundane converge in haunting harmony.

As the nocturnal hours settle in, caution reigns supreme, for those who linger too close may find themselves ensnared by the ghostly apparitions that haunt the river's edge.

Hantu Air. - Illustration by Sinar Daily
Hantu Air. - Illustration by Sinar Daily

Whispers of the Hantu Air trace their origins to a dark ritual known as acak, a practice undertaken by powerful shamans to capture spirits and cast them into the flowing waters.

The Hantu Air, it is warned, emerges from the depths during sunset and nightfall, drifting along the currents in search of unwitting victims. The water spirits are not mere observers; they are shape-shifters of the night, capable of assuming various forms, including that of a human.

Hantu Beruk

An elusive demon monkey that transcends the boundaries between the mundane and the supernatural. The Hantu Beruk is not merely a creature of the wild; it is a spirit that, when invoked, transforms the stage into a realm of acrobatic marvels and bewitching feats.

In the heartlands of Kelantan and Terengganu, the invocation of the Hantu Beruk was a commonplace ritual, in traditional performances such as dikir barat, wayang kulit, and makyong.

Hantu Beruk. - Illustration by Sinar Daily
Hantu Beruk. - Illustration by Sinar Daily

It is within these performances that the Hantu Beruk found its moment to shine. As the rhythmic beats of the dikir barat echoed and the shadows danced in the glow of wayang kulit, the Hantu Beruk would momentarily possess the body of a performer.

In this ephemeral possession, the spirit would seize control, orchestrating a ballet of acrobatic prowess and captivating movements until the final curtain fell.

Hantu Denai

An elusive demon of hunting, whose existence is woven into the very fabric of the wilderness. This ancient ghost, shrouded in the verdant embrace of the jungle, is a phantom that preys upon hunters, lurking with an uncanny patience in the imprints left by wild animals.

When the opportune moment arrives, the Hantu Denai unleashes its assault, transforming into a grotesque creature. Its assault however, is not limited to the visual; there is an auditory onslaught as well, as it mimics the shrieking of wild animals, that reverberates through the dense foliage.

Hantu Denai. - Illustration by Sinar Daily
Hantu Denai. - Illustration by Sinar Daily

The Hantu Denai, with its hideous visage and disconcerting mimicry, aims not only to thwart the hunter's pursuit but to instill a primal fear that resonates with the very essence of the forest.

As the unsuspecting prey becomes entangled in the supernatural dance, the Hantu Denai's malevolence manifests, a reminder that in the depths of the jungle, the line between predator and prey blurs into an otherworldly tapestry of fear and the unknown.

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