Friday, 18 September 2009

Magic of the Malays

Extracted from 'The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India and its Dependecies (Volume XI)' January-June 1821 (Kingsbury, Parbury & Allen, Booksellers to the Honourable East India Company)

Principle is the spring of action. If a man's principle be wrong, his conduct will, in general, be so too. One of the great principles that forms the character of the Malays is the belief of magic. The word magic I conceive best adapted here, as it embraces all the various modifications of those strange things that are said to take place. The Malays have regular systems of magic, which differ in every country, and are as numerous and various as the magic itself, whose inventive genius produces them; but those of one place cannot make use of that of another, except they be regularly initiated into it. They believe in a great number of evil spirits whose influence their magic counteracts. These are all known by distinct names, and have all one common head or prince, i.e. Iblis, or the devil. They are as follows : Iblis, Sheatan, Jin, Fari, Dewa, Mambang, Rak-asa, Gar-gazi, Polang, Hantu, Penang-Galan, and Pontianak.

The magic of the Malays may be divided into two kinds, viz. profane and religious. The latter they pretend to be certain prayers, taught by the Deity, the recital of which never fails to procure particular favours. I will first give a few examples of their profane magic : —

I. Tuju, to point — When a man has ill-will against any one, he makes a certain kind of dagger on the principles of the mystery, and recites his prayer over it. If the man whom he wishes to injure lives at a distance, he takes hold of the handle of the dagger and strikes towards that place, as if to stab his antagonist. The man's enemy immediately becomes sick; blood adheres to the point of the dagger, which he sucks, saying, "Now I am satisfied." His enemy then becomes speechless and dies.

II. Tuju Jantong — (Jantong is the top of a newly opened bunch of plantains (bananas), in shape like a heart). A man wishing to revenge himself on another, seeks a newly opened plantain top, and performs the mystery under it ; then ties the plantain, and having recited a prayer, be burns the point, which communicates to the heart of his adversary, till his sufferings are intolerable. When he has tormented him long enough, he cuts the plantain, and the man's heart falls down into the body, and he dies; the blood coming out of his mouth.

III. Tuju Jindang.— This is a sort of evil spirit, in appearance like the silkworm, which people rear in a new vessel, and feed on roasted paddy. When a man wants to hurt another, he performs the mystery and sends the insect away, saying, "Go and eat the heart and entrails of such and such a one." The insect then flies away. When it falls on the body, it is like the touch of a bird flying against a person, but nothing is seen, only the place where it enters, which is generally the back of the hand or between the shoulders, turns blue. The torments which the creature inflicts are excruciating and it eats out all the internal parts of the man, and the body turns all over blue. As soon as the man is dead, the insect returns to its keeper.

IV. Pontianak.—These are the children born of people after death. They appear generally in the shape of birds, sometimes white, sometimes speckled like a magpie, but not so large ; in Java they are quite black. But they can transform themselves, and assume the shape of other animals, and even that of man. This bird is dreaded more than a tiger; in moonlight nights it chases men walking alone, but never women. It kills young children and sucks their blood. One appeared sometime ago in human shape, to a man coming from the market with some fish. The Pontianak formed friendship with the man, and went with him to his house, assisted in cutting up the fish with its long nails or claws, and after the man went to sleep, the Pontianak killed its kind host and went away. They have two servants, an owl, and a species of caterpillar, which they employ as messengers to bring information of what they see and hear. It is almost impossible to hurt or catch one of them. They are covered with hair, instead of feathers. A man was once fortunate enough to get a hair of one (how I know not), and the Pontianak brought him as much gold as he wished, but to his great mortification, this cunning Pontianak got its hair back, and in an instant all his gold disappeared.

I could add a great number of such bugbears, a belief in which keeps the minds of the people in bondage and terror; but I suppose the reader finds as little entertainment in reading of those as I find in writing of them. I shall now mention a few of the prodigies which are effected by their religious magic (I call it religious magic on their own principles, but it is in reality blasphemy.) If the reader has faith enough to believe them, he will no more doubt of Mahommed's night journey.

I. The devil, when tempting Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit, pretended that, by reciting a certain prayer which God had taught him, he obtained immortality.

II. Enoch prayed one day that he might see heaven. The angel Gabriel was immediately sent to show him all the celestial glories. When his wish was gratified, he departed, but presently returned; Gabriel asking who it was that knocked, Enoch replied, "that he came back for his slippers which he had forgotten." When he got in, he would not be put out again, and the Lord reproved Gabriel for attempting it.

III. Solomon one day prayed to the Lord that he would bestow upon him tokens of favour, and badges of honour and glory, such as no man ever possessed before him, nor would attain to after him. The Lord granted him his request, and gave him a signet, upon the keeping of which this glory depended. When he washed, bathed himself, or attended to any necessary business, he committed this ring* to a concubine of his, named Amina. One day, while the ring was in her custody, the devil, in the shape of Solomon, imposed upon her, and obtained the ring, by virtue of which he got to the throne, and made many alterations in the laws. Solomon all this while wandered about forsaken and unknown, till at the end of forty days the devil flew away and threw the signet in the sea. The ring was swallowed by a fish which was caught and brought to Solomon, who found the ring in its belly. Having thus obtained the signet, he recovered the kingdom; took the devil, and tying a stone to his neck, threw him into the sea of Tiberius.

Sianu ((From the Madras Government Gazette)

* Solomon is represented, or said to lie on a golden sofa in heaven, richly decorated with all manner of precious stones, and two angels in the shape of serpents, one white and the other black. Many attempts have been made to steal the ring, but they have all been defeated.


belajarsejarah said...

i think that there is not much studi in indonesia regarding miscellanious historical facts such as malay magic. we need to open discussion and publication on this field. cheers.

azmin osman said...

salam bang, my last blogspot selftechgroup was hacked so I had change n move it to
Thank You. may Allah blessed you.

lol said...

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intanbiru said...

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