|An Introduction to Malaysian Ghouls & Vampires
| In the terrifying netherworld of Malaysia, vampires do not talk with hungarian accents. They do not run
away from vegetables. They do not sweep ladies off their feet and bite them passionately on the neck. Born
from epidemic sickness and poverty, Malaysian vampire legends are bizarre, visceral nightmares where a
man can be throttled to death with entrails, eaten from the inside by ghoulish crickets, or drained of blood
before he's even born.
Predominantly female, the ghouls and ghosts of this region seem to orient eerily on a theme of childbirth,
display a common affinity with birds, and most importantly, could kick the ass of any Anne-rice goth-club
ghoul clear out of his Transylvanian castle with very little effort. Indeed, the very concept of vampirism has
suffered nothing but wussification over the past few centuries, and one can only hope that this write-up will
find its way into enough eager young minds that future generations may understand and appreciate vampires
in all their original, relentlessly disgusting glory...
|- All artwork by Adam Smith exclusively for use here or however he sees fit. Written by Jonathan Wojcik -
| To start off with a relatively "mainstream" freak of folklore, the Penanggalan is still quite famous in its
homeland and has found a sort of underground celebrity status in western role-playing games such as
"Dungeons and Dragons".
So what exactly is a Penanggalan? The name translates literally as "head with dancing entrails", and little
more physical description should be necessary. Sometimes shown trailing an entire set of viscera or even a
spinal cord, the traditional Penanggalan consists solely of woman's head and digestive tract, floating
through the air like some bloody, dripping jellyfish. Though capable of preying on any living being, the
Penanggalan is particularly attracted to the blood of infants...even those still nestled in their mother's womb.
In many stories, the Penanggalan appears as a normal, living woman during the day. Each night, she exits
her body and hides the headless shell in a trunk, closet or cave. Unfortunately, her intestines will not fit
back inside her torso until they have been soaked in a tub of vinegar; the smell of which can sometimes
betray her secret.
Curiously enough, there are several variations of this legend that seem to have arisen simultaneously
throughout the eastern world. The Burmese "Kephn" is the disembodied head and stomach of a wizard
who drinks the very souls of the living, and the "Phii Krasue" of Thailand is a crawling, long-tongued
Penanggalan lookalike who feeds on blood, intestines, and excrement straight from the rear end of her
victims. It is interesting to note that the Krasue is still well-known is Thailand but is now considered a
laughable, bottom-feeding (pun not intended) weakling of a monster. Its name can be thrown as an insult
akin to "vermin" or "parasite".
Despite the fact that they still possess heads, Penanggala are presumably boneless and can enter a home
through the tiniest crack in the woodwork. For obvious reasons, they fear only brambles and other prickly
|THE POLONG & PELESIT
| While many Malaysian vampires prey on unborn babies, the Toyol takes it to the next creepy level by
actually being an unborn baby. Created by a sorceror to carry out his or her whims, the Toyol is a stillborn
fetus brought to life by incantation and the blood of a pure white rooster. Ravenous, violent, and stronger
than a full-grown man, the Toyol must be contained in a jar during the day and will remain obedient only if
it receives a blood offering every midnight. Depending on the story, this offering must be more albino
rooster blood or the blood of its creator offered up in a teaspoon (can you picture that? Awww) and
burning incense must accompany each feeding. Failure to meet any of the Toyol's requirements even once
can cause its master to grow ill and die, or set the creature loose on the surrounding land. When Toyol
prey on humans, they are said to suck the toes of sleepers. It is also said that if a Toyol is ordered by its
master to steal, it will only take half of what a person owns. Like vampires in some other parts of the
world, Toyol cannot resist counting things - especially green beans.
| Another creature bottled up and controlled by a
witch or wizard, the Polong is traditionally
summoned by gradually filling a small bottle with the
blood of a murder victim over the course of a week
or more. When a birdlike chirping can be heard from
the bottle, a Polong has taken up residence inside.
Usually invisible, her true form is that of a nude
woman less than an inch high. If fed blood from her
summoner's fingertip each day, the Polong will
torment her master's enemies with madness, sickness
and eventually death.
Summoning a Polong is always risky business, as
the creature is not necessarily bound to service. If
mistreated in any way, she can easily turn the tables
on her master by calling forth a minion of her own:
the Pelesit. This tiny spirit exists almost exclusively in
symbiosis with the Polong, and resembles a
household cricket with a razor sharp tail. As the
Polong's master sleeps, her insect-like pet carves a
small hole in the flesh for both tiny demons to climb
inside. Invaded by these parasitic spirits, the
summoner is now doomed to waste away, succumb
to insanity and die...all while ranting and raving about
cats. No, really.
Though generally an inseperable duo, there are
some accounts of Pelesit operating without a Polong
mistress. Sometimes, a sorceror creates a Pelesit
from the tongue of a dead infant, and binds the
creature by attaching one of his own hairs to its
head. The enslaved spirit can then be ordered to
track down and attack a particular person, invading
their body in the usual manner.
Only decapitation can kill a Pelesit.