TheKuntilanak(Indonesian name), also calledPontianak(Malay name), is a mythological creature inIndonesia,MalaysiaandSingapore. It is similar toLangsuirin otherSoutheast Asiaregions. The Pontianak usually takes the form of a pregnant woman who is unable to give birth to a child. Alternatively, it is often described as avampiric, vengeful femalespirit. Another form of the Pontianak refers to the ghost orwhite ladyof Southeast Asian folklore.
The Pontianak is often depicted as a long-haired woman dressed in white, and it represents local variations of a vampire. She lures in unsuspecting men to incite fear and enact revenge. Signs that a Pontianak is nearby include the sound of an infant crying and the smell of a decaying corpse or theplumeriaflower.
Kuntilanak or Pontianak is often described as an astral female spirit; another version of this figure is a woman spirit with long sharp fingernails. It is similar to the spirit of a woman unable to give birth while her stillborn child was inside her womb. This figure is mainly known to reside in the Kalimantan region containing the city of Pontianak.
The Pontianak can disguise herself using the appearance of a beautiful woman to lure her prey. In Malaysia, lore depicts them as "vampiric" blood-suckers that rip through the internal organs of men.
The Pontianak is derived from myths and folktales, some of which are particularly popular inKalimantan(Borneo). Being one of the most famous pieces ofIndonesian folklore, it inspired the name of a capital city in the Western Kalimantan region, calledPontianak. The city of Pontianak had a long history, it was founded and infested by ghosts, untilSyarif Abdurrahman Alkadriefended 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 at the forest. The first sultan of thePontianak 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.
The Kuntilanak (Pontianak) is often depicted as a beautiful woman with pale skin, red eyes, and long black hair. She is often dressed in a blood-smeared white dress. The Pontianak is also described as changing into a more monstrous form when she captures her prey which is typically men or helpless people. Because she is bloodthirsty and has a carnivorous nature, a Pontianak can also appear as a beast or a ghost, resembling theDraculavampire.
Pontianak only appears under thefull moonand typically announces her presence with the cries of infants or feminine laughter. It is said that if the sounds are quiet, she is nearby, but if they are loud, she is far away. Some sources also state that a dog howling at night indicates that a Pontianak is present, but not too close; if the dog whines, then a Pontianak is near. Its presence is also said to be heralded by a floral fragrance, identifiable as that of thePlumeriaflower, 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. In cases where the Pontianak desires revenge and retribution against a man, it is said to eviscerate the victim with its 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 associated withbananatrees, 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.
TheIndonesianKuntilanak is similar to the Pontianak inMalaysia, but commonly takes the form of a bird and sucks the blood ofvirginsand young women. The bird, which makes a "Ke-ke-ke" sound as it flies, may be sent throughblack magicto make a woman fall ill; the characteristic symptom beingvaginal bleeding. When a man approaches her in her female form, the Kuntilanak suddenly turns and reveals that her back is hollow, much like theSundel bolongthe prostitute ghost with her large gaping hole on her back. A Kuntilanak can be subdued by plunging a sharp nail into the top of her head.