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Malay Folklore: Pontianak

“Pontianak” is one of the most famous, scariest and violent ghost in the Malaysian culture. Primarily, the Malays believe that it originates from a still born child, women who dies while giving birth, women who were killed by the pontianak or their spirits captured by them. The phrase “Pontianak” was believed from the acronym of “Perempuan Mati Beranak” in the Malay language, meaning the woman death by childbirth.

From the movie 'Pusaka Pontianak', audio problem.

What Is “Pontianak”?
Posted in: Asian – Tony

In folklore, Pontianak usually announces its presence through baby cries or turn themselves into beautiful lady and frighten or kill the unlucky who enter or pass through their vicinity. It usually disguises itself as a beautiful young lady to attract its victim (usually male). Its presence sometimes can be detected by a nice floral fragrance of the ‘kemboja’ (frangipani) followed by an awful stench afterwords. The distance of a pontianaks cries are very tricky. The Malays believe that if the cry is soft means that the pontianak is near and if it is loud then it must be far.

More at Horror Stories

Another group with the same song 'Pontianak', identity problem.


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 death. 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 afterwords. 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. It is also believed Langsuir has a hole behind the neck(which is used to suck blood) and if people put Langsuir’s hair in this hole(or cut their claws), Langsuir will be a human again. 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.

Cited from Wikipedia

People discussing Pontianak

Ya, I think Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore only. The word “Pontianak” came from a Malay wording and only these 3 countries use this language. This type of ghost may exist in other countries but they use different term. ie. Dracula for Western.

The Philippines also have them… It’s called tianak (see similarity in names) here, but it preys on unborn children…


actually in indonesia,that ghost women is called kuntilanak, not pontianak. Pontianak is name of the city in indonesia.

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)
* Lawang Sewu :Dendam Kuntilanak (Indonesia, 2007)

Songs on Pontianak

Pulangkan by Misha Omar

GM: I really like this song, but not so much the movie plots and story line.

Ku Seru by Misha Omar

Lagu Pontianak Pop Yeh Yeh by the Zurah III

More reading at

Chap Ayam Blogspot

The power of the Pontianak

Budak Jahat Company



My subsequent article will be on my owned experience two weeks ago.. close encounter with the ‘3rd kind’  – ‘Maya Karin’.

I hope that the real Maya Karin doesn’t mind using her name as the new name of the Malay legendary ghost, “Pontianak’ (given by the  dormitory girls in Malaysia)  ‘M .. K…’ sounds less scarier. If they ever named Pontianak, Mustafa Kamal, another ‘M..K…’, it will be not scary at all. But again, I don’t think the Pon…would like that…Pon is… Pontianak!! (Shhhoo.. not the other Pon!)


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