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Pontianak: Asia’s Favorite and Famous Ghost

by Bithika Mohanty
Pontianak: Asia's Favorite and Famous Ghost

Pontianak (the Malay name) or Kuntilanak (the Indonesian name) refers to a female ghost that avenges a woman who died during childbirth. The name comes from Puntianak which is an abbreviation of “Perempuan (woman) Mati (Death) Beranek (childbirth)”.

In Singapore and Malaysia, the supernatural creature is known as ‘Pontianak’; In Thailand, it is known as ‘Phi Thai Hong’ and In India, it is called the ‘Yakshi’.

The Kuntilanak usually takes the form of a pregnant woman who is unable to give birth to a child. Alternatively, it is often described as a vampiric, vengeful female spirit. Another form of the Pontianak refers to the ghost or white lady of Southeast Asian folklore. This figure was also named after the province of the Western Kalimantan region (Borneo).

The city in Western Kalimantan was first founded in 1771, established by the Sultanate Syarif Abdurrahman Al-Qadrie during his voyage.

The Pontianak is often depicted as a long-haired woman dressed in white, and it represents local variations of a vampire. The white lady lures in unsuspecting men to incite fear and enact revenge. Signs that a Pontianak nearby includes the sound of an infant crying and the smell of a decaying corpse or the plumeria flower.

Image result for Plumeria Flower. Size: 137 x 103. Source: bestflowerscare.blogspot.com

Pontianak only appears on the full moon and typically announces her presence with the cries of infants or feminine laughter. It is said that ‘the louder the sound, the farther she is’.

It is also said, that when a dog is howling at night, it indicates that a Pontianak is present, but it is not yet too close; but if the dog whines, then a Pontianak is near. Its presence is also said to be presaged by a floral fragrance, identifiable as that of the Plumeria flower, followed by a stench similar to that of a decaying corpse.

The Pontianak kills her victims by using her long fingernails to physically remove their internal organs to be eaten later.

In cases where the Pontianak desires revenge and retribution against a man, it is said that she disembowels the victim with her own hands. If a victim has their eyes open when a Pontianak is near, she will suck them out of their head.

The Pontianak is said to locate her prey by the scent of their clean laundry; because of this, some Malaysians refuse to leave any piece of clothing outside their house overnight.

The Pontianak is often associated with banana trees, and her spirit is said to reside in them during the day. According to folklore, a Pontianak can be fought off by driving a nail into the hole on the nape of her neck, which causes her to turn into a beautiful woman and a good wife until the nail is removed.

The Indonesian Kuntilanak is similar to the Pontianak in Malaysia, but commonly takes the form of a bird and sucks the blood of virgins and young women. The bird, which makes a “Ke-ke-ke” sound as it flies, it might be sent through black magic to make a woman fall ill; the characteristic symptom of the same being vaginal bleeding. When a man approaches her in her female form, the Kuntilanak suddenly turns and reveals that her back is hollow.

Being one of the most famous pieces of Indonesian folklore, it inspired the name of a capital city in the Western Kalimantan region, called Pontianak. The city of Pontianak had a long history, it was founded and infested by ghosts until Syarif Abdurrahman Alkadrie fended off the ghosts. After the two shots were fired at the exact same spot, then the sultanate had planned to construct the foundation of a mosque and a palace there in the forest. The first sultan of the Pontianak Sultanate, whose reign lasted from 1771-1808, was haunted by these wicked creatures. Today, the place is covered in trees and locals still believe it is haunted by the Pontianak. It is tradition to shoot carbide cannons made from logs to pay tribute to the Sultan.

Pontianak female ghost



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