(Redirected from Pontianak (folklore))

The Kuntilanak (Indonesian name), also called Pontianak (Malay name), is a mythological creature in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It is similar to Langsuir in other Southeast Asia regions. The Kuntilanak usually takes the form of a pregnant woman who is unable to give birth to a child. Alternatively, it is often described as a vampiric, vengeful female spirit. Another form of the Pontianak refers to the ghost or white lady of Southeast Asian folklore. This figure was also named after the province of Western Kalimantan region (Borneo).

The kuntilanak figure is often worn wearing long white clothes

The city in Western Kalimantan was first founded in 1771, established by the Sultanate Syarif Abdurrahman Al-Qadrie during his voyage.

The Pontianak is often depicted as a long-haired woman dressed in white, and it represents local variations of a vampire. The white lady 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 the plumeria flower.


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. [1]

The Pontianak is derived from myths and folktales, some of which are particularly popular in Kalimantan (Borneo). Being one of the most famous pieces of Indonesian folklore, it inspired the name of a capital city in the Western Kalimantan region, called Pontianak. The city of Pontianak had a long history, it was founded and infested by ghosts, until Syarif Abdurrahman Alkadrie fended 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 the Pontianak 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.

Physical appearance and behaviorEdit

The Kuntilanak (Pontianak) is often depicted as a beautiful women 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 the Dracula vampire.

Pontianak only appears under the full moon and 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 the Plumeria flower, 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 with banana trees, 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.

The Indonesian Kuntilanak is similar to the Pontianak in Malaysia, but commonly takes the form of a bird and sucks the blood of virgins and young women. The bird, which makes a "Ke-ke-ke" [2] sound as it flies, may be sent through black magic to make a woman fall ill; the characteristic symptom being vaginal bleeding. When a man approaches her in her female form, the Kuntilanak suddenly turns and reveals that her back is hollow, much like the Sundel bolong the 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.

Alleged sightingsEdit

On Travel Channel’s “Paranormal Caught on Camera” Season4 episode 24, a man shows ghostly figure at night during research in unfinished building. He believe he captured Kuntilanak on the video, because they are believed to live in abandoned buildings.

In popular cultureEdit

In scary stories and horror films on Indonesian and Malaysian television, Kuntilanak or this figure is depicted as murderous prey by sucking blood at the nape of the neck, more like a vampire.

  • Indonesian Video Games:
    • DreadOut (2014)
    • Pamali: Indonesian Folklore Horror[6] (2018)
  • Malaysian films:
    • Pontianak (1957)
    • Dendam Pontianak (1957)
    • Sumpah Pontianak (1958)
    • The Pontianak Child, also known as Anak Pontianak (1958)
    • The Return of Kuntilanak (1963)
    • Pontianak Musang Cave (1964)
    • Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam (2004)
    • Pontianak Harum Sundal Malam 2 (2005)
    • The Scream of Pontianak (2005)
    • Help Me, I'm a Pontianak (2011)
    • Pontianak vs Oil Person (2012)
    • The Nail of Kuntilanak (2013)
  • Singaporean films:
  • Hong Kong films:
    • The Demon's Baby (1998)
  • Malaysian fiction:

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Duile, Timo (2020). "Kuntilanak: Ghost Narratives and Malay Modernity in Pontianak, Indonesia". Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde. 176 (2/3): 279–303. doi:10.1163/22134379-17601001. ISSN 0006-2294. JSTOR 26916440.
  2. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Sbfpb9IteA
  3. ^ Nuala, Nayato Fio (2009-02-12), Kuntilanak Beranak (Horror), Garneta Haruni, Monique Henry, Dion Wiyoko, Vikri Rahmat, Mitra Pictures, retrieved 2021-03-02
  4. ^ Purwono, Findo (2009-07-23), Paku Kuntilanak (Horror), Dewi Perssik, Heather Storm, Keith Foo, Kiwil, Maxima Pictures, retrieved 2021-03-02
  5. ^ Santet Kuntilanak (2012) - IMDb, 8 March 2012, retrieved 2021-03-02
  6. ^ "pamali - Google Search". www.google.com. Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  7. ^ "Revenge of the Pontianak". IMDb. Retrieved 17 August 2019.
  8. ^ "The House of Aunts". 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2015-04-13.

External linksEdit