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Pelesit is a Malay term for an inherited spirit or demon which serves a master. It is found in early Malay animism.[1]


The Pelesit is reared by a woman as a shield for protection, guidance, and most probably as a weapon to harm other people. In that way it is associated with a black magic practitioner. It is the female version of Hantu Raya which confers great power on the owner.[2]

In old Malay culture some people chose to live alone thus isolating themselves from society. They practiced black magic in order to gain strength, power, protection, beauty, but not popularity. Some gained a certain level of popularity or renown but there were others who remained in secrecy and refused to mingle with people.

This practice is popular among Malays who are animists and involved in the so-called Saka (the inheritance of a spirit from one generation to another). Pelesit is commonly associated with the katydid since it has the ability to turn itself into one.

Pelesit is one of the ghost mentioned in "Hikayat Abdullah", written by Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, much to the amusement of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, his employer.[3]


Typically the owner, the Bomoh (shaman), uses the spirit in an exploitative way for monetary gain. The pelesit is first used to attack someone randomly, then the same Bomoh will be called to exorcise the so-called demon inside the victim (while the spectators have no idea that the bomoh is playing tricks on them). Later, a certain amount of money is given to the bomoh as a token of appreciation.

A bomoh keeps his pelesit in a small bottle[4] and offers it his own blood every full moon.


Pelesit is a dark spirit revered by shamans in Malay culture. It feeds on blood and works as a servant for its master.[5] It demonizes people and causes chaos in society. Pelesit must have a continuous host and therefore needs to be passed down from one generation to the next. It should always be taken care of and fed constantly because if not, the demon will soon create havoc among the local inhabitants of its master's village, especially after the master's death.

In popular culture

  • In Kijiya, a Malaysian komku series, a Pelesit is the creature that appear after the tsunami which is the main enemy of the human after the event.[6]

See also


  1. ^ Asian Horror Encyclopedia By Laurence C. Bush
  2. ^ Hantu hantu By James Noel McHugh
  3. ^ (in Malay) Hikayat Abdullah By Hamzah Hamdani, Abdullah (Munshi)
  4. ^ Publications, Volume 50 Folklore Society (Great Britain) 1902 - Folklore
  5. ^ The Memoirs of Mustapha Hussain: Malay Nationalism Before UMNO By Mustapha Hussain
  6. ^ Publisher website for Kijiya

External links

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