Barang (magic)

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Synonyms Shaman, Kulam
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Folk healer, Medicine man, Sorcerer, Witch
Competencies Medicine, Magic
Fields of

Barang is a Cebuano term taken to mean all forms of malignant magic or sorcery.[1]

Usage and related terms

Barang is a noun used to describe malignant sorcery or familiar spirits (usually a swarm of destructive insects, specifically carnivorous beetles). Other synonymous words used in the island of Siquijor in the Philippines include haplit, paktol and anyaw.

Mambabarang (noun) is a practitioner of this specific type of sorcery or witchcraft. Binarang (noun) is the target of the sorcery or witchcraft. Nabarang (adjective) means someone or something experiencing the effects of the curse or hex.

The Mambabarang

The Mambabarang is the Filipino version of a sorcerer/sorceress; the warlock/witch is a Mamalarang (e.g. Mamalarang Vonna Rizza Decano). The name is derived from the word barang. Other synonymous terms include the Hiligaynon word manog hiwit, which is also synonymous to kulam. The verb barangon or hiwitan means "to place a hex"; a curse in Tagalog is a sumpa.

In legends the mambabarang keeps his swarm of carnivorous beetles in a bottle or a section of bamboo, carefully feeding them ginger root. When the practitioner decides to employ his dark art, he performs a prayer ritual wherein he whispers instructions and identifies the victim to the beetles. The destructive insects are then set free and to seek out the victim and gain entry into the body via any bodily orifice: the nose, mouth, ears, anus or dermal breaks such as open sores/wounds. The victim will then feel the effects of the invasion of the insects through manifestations depending on the area of entry; hemorrhoids if through the anus, ear ache if through the ears and other similar cases. The resulting illness is supposedly resistant to conventional medical treatment and only reveals its true nature when the victim succumbs and flying insects issue forth from bodily cavities. In reality, it is possible a carnivorous beetle could lay eggs in someone it killed, and the eggs would then hatch post-mortem.

Superstitious folks still attribute certain illnesses or diseases to barang. This most often happens in the provinces, where an herbal doctor, albularyo or a faith healer, a mananambal or sorhuana (female) / sorhuano (male) treats such diseases. In some rural provincial areas, people completely rely on the albularyo and mananambal for treatment.

See also


  1. ^ Mascuñana, Rolando V.; Mascuñana, Evelyn F. (2004), The Folk Healers-Sorcerers of Siquijor, REX Book Store, Inc., p. 72, ISBN 971-23-3543-7

External links

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