A compendium of Malaysia's multicultural ghosts, spirits and emanations. Discover their origins, characteristics, and, whenever possible, how to make sure they stay away from you. Among those featured are the Hantu Kopek, Toyol, Pontianak, Datuk Gong, Mohini Pisasu and dozens more. This chatty and occasionally ironic guide is sure to come in handy each time you hear something go bump, or even kak-kak-kak-kak-kak , in the night.
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Malacca-born Danny Lim is primarily a writer and photojournalist. His features and photo essays have been published locally and internationally by the Far Eastern Economic Review, The Smithsonian Institute, Vogue (Italy), Off The Edge, The Sun, The Edge, The Nut Graph, The Malaysian Insider and Malaysiakini. He is the winner of two local awards for a short documentary and a regional award for his feature photography. This is his first book.Review:
I found it terribly amusing and would recommend that you guys give it a read! --KLue.com.my
This glossary of ghosts and hantu that haunt the collective imagination of Malaysians provides entertainment not unlike Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary. Some of these spirits and emanations are presented as a matter-of-fact: short, unadorned and unembellished. Like this one-sentence entry for hantu lubang: 'The spirit of the hole which includes caves and crevices of huge, haunted stones.' Other entries, and in particular the longer ones, are presented tongue-in-cheek and with a generous dash of salt. For instance, bunian ('the elf-like community of Malay mythology said to exist in a parallel dimension that intersects with ours') receives a four-and-a-half page write up. It includes this anecdote about Isa Said who went missing for nine days in Taman Negara Niah, Miri. When Isa later turned up, he claimed in his police report to have been kidnapped by a Bunian family. He said he 'somehow managed to escape and took a bus and a van back to Kuching.' The entries, interestingly, don t just tell us what these undead are; they also reflect what we, the not-dead, are made of. As Amir Muhammad writes in the foreword, 'The ghosts we choose to believe in can also say a lot about our attitudes towards gender, the natural environment and even race.' For example, ghosts and demons which are most female, those who have died at child birth or at their own hands after being jilted. Characteristically they are hideous creatures with pendulous breasts ; long, sharp nails; and long unkempt hair like the pontianak, the penanggalan, the hantu tetek and the churel. Even though some of these undead may initially manifest themselves as demure and beautiful, shapely young women with long flowing hair (think shampoo TV commercials) and firm breasts, they quickly change into the mad hag in the attic (think Ju On). The very parts that were attributes of beauty become the reasons for revulsion. Certainly a worthwhile read, as Danny Lim has undoubtedly enlarged our vocabulary of things that go bump in the tropical night. --SH Lim, Time Out KL
What Danny managed to do was to look at the very curious instances of cultural or ethnic overlap in Malaysian society. How the different communities of Malaysia, despite all this talk of irreconcilable differences, actually share the same superstitions. It is very interesting to see how the ghosts of the ethnic Chinese community happen to be the same ghosts of the ethnic Malay community. And these instances of overlap for me were interesting as they somehow point to some subconscious overlapping and sharing of common beliefs. --Farish A. Noor, the New Straits Times
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