Pontianak (folklore)

Pontianak (folklore)

The Pontianak, Kuntilanak, Matianak or "Boentianak" (as known in Indonesia, sometimes shortened to just kunti) is a type of vampire in Malay folklore, similar to the Langsuir. Pontianak are women who died during childbirth and became undead, seeking revenge and terrorizing villages.


In folklore, Pontianak often appears as a beautiful and seductive woman, usually accompanied by the strong scent of frangipani. According to myth, men who are not wary will be killed or castrated when she morphs into a hideous being; she will also eat babies and harm pregnant women and has been said to cause miscarriages.

People believe that having a sharp object like a nail helps them fend off potential attacks by Pontianak, the nail being used to plunge a hole at the back of the Pontianak's neck. It is believed that when a nail is plunged into the back of a Pontianak's neck, she will turn into a beautiful woman, until the nail is pulled off again. The Indonesian twist on this is plunging the nail into the apex of the head of the kuntilanak.

Pontianak is associated with banana trees, and its spirit is said to reside in them during the day.


Langsuir is a version of Pontianak, popular in Malaysia as one of the deadliest banshees in Malay folklore. Different from the Pontianak, which always appeared as a beautiful woman to devour the victim, Langsuir would possess the victim and suck blood from the inside, slowly causing a fatal end. It is believed that langsuir are from women who had laboring sickness (meroyan) as a result of suffering the death of their children and who themselves died afterwards. Portrayed as hideous, scary, vengeful and furious, the Langsuir is further characterized as having red eyes, sharp claws, long hair, a green or white robe (most of the time), a rotten face and long fangs. These are the common images described by people who claimed to have seen one. Pontianaks are sometimes claimed to be the still-born children of langsuir.

Movies about Pontianak

* "Anak Pontianak" (Malaysia, 1958)
* "Pontianak Kembali" (Malaysia, 1963)
* "Pontianak Gua Musang" (Malaysia, 1964)
* "Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam" (Malaysia, 2004)
* "Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam 2" (Malaysia, 2005)
* "Kuntilanak" (Indonesia, 2006)
* "Kuntilanak merah Terowongan Casablanca" (Indonesia, 2007)
* "Kuntilanak 2 Kuntilanak 2" (Indonesia, 2006)
* "Kuntilanak 3" (Indonesia, 2008)
* "" (Indonesia, 2007)

ee also


External links

* [http://www.spi.com.sg/spi/spi_files/pontianak/ Article by Singapore Paranormal Investigators about pontianaks]
* [http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/elltrw/History/Pontianaks%20&%20Verisimilitude.doc Pontianaks And The Issue Of Verisimilitude In Singaporean Cinema(requires a login and password)] -- an essay by Dr Timothy White of the National University of Singapore, about the important role played by 1950s and 1960s horror films in the evolution of pontianak mythology (Microsoft Word document).

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