Hantu 101: The Different Types Of Local Hantu You Need To Know

Learn how to identify and get around them.

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Hantu 101: The Different Types Of Local Hantu You Need To Know
Hantus are the stuff of legends for us southeast Asians. However, they seem to be losing their popularity these days.

Anybody in primary school coulld tell you The Avenger’s lineup, but they might not know these local staples. We’ve forgotten all about hantus. What they do, what they look like and more importantly, how to get around them.

So, to help you out, here are some of the hantus that we all should know so that we would be able to call ourselves a self-respecting southeast Asian.


Most of us would know this ‘hantu’, especially the guys. Her appearance as a good looking lady may be the reason why she is so popular. A woman who supposedly died from being pregnant or while giving birth will become a pontianak.

She has a nail at the back of her neck and if you pull that out, she'll turn into a hideous vampire. She can’t really plug that hole on her own, someone else has to do it. So, if you see a ghost with a hole in the back of her neck, just nail her!


Pocongs are not really scary at all. It is said that they came about when the guys that bury the dead messed up a ritual while laying them to rest. Some said that their defective shrouds or improper burial site could spawn these Pocong from the ground. They can’t really do anything to you. They just scare people by randomly appearing in the dark. Motorists usually blame the Pocong for unexplained accidents since cars could drive the roads of Malaysia.  

Without any teeth or claws or even a voice, they don’t really deserve to be feared. Pocong’s favourite time to attack is when people are trying to imitate them. You can easily outrun these Pocong as they can’t run or even walk, as a matter of fact. They could only hop around clumsily since their hands and feet are bound in the shroud. Some even dare each other to take the shroud apart by undoing it’s knots by cutting it with anything sharp. 


We are not talking about the toyol you bring to school to help you pass exams. These are the little green children with red eyes that move quicker than a Bugatti Veyron. They were dead children that were brought back to live. They are considered pets to in the black magic realm and to practitioners. They only have one job, which is to steal. They would steal from others in the neighborhood and give the loot to their master. For example, a master may ask the toyol to steal three RM50 notes from a specific house. If you’ve laid your phone on some RM50 notes at home and find the money missing but the phone still there, chances are you’ve been visited.

They are simple-minded, quick little thieves but there is a simple solution to this nuisance. Place anything they can count by your stash and they will get distracted. Instead of nicking your RM50 notes it would start to count out these items you’ve baited them with. It would then forget what it was there for and leave empty handed. Most leave out green beans since its cheap and small enough to make them count longer. You could also leave out marbles and rice grains for the same purpose. You could also place the money on a dresser with a mirror on it. A Toyol won’t dare to see itself in mirrors, making your stash Toyol proof. They do not scare us really. They’ve never been known to hurt anyone. They only get testy with their masters who don’t feed them enough or neglect them. 


Langsuir is a close relative of the Puntianak. In fact, in Indonesian’s folk stories, they are even interchangeable. Langsuir also comes after the death of women giving birth, just like the Pontianak. Some say that the child becomes the ghost but the most accepted explanation is that the mother is actually the langsuir, looking for her unborn child. She’s just a scary head floating around with her spine and internal organs still attached. This one may have the goriest appearance of all the hantus we know. Detecting them is not hard. A floating head, come on!

If you suddenly hear a baby crying where you don’t think a baby should be, run. The closer you hear the cries, the closer the langsuir is. There is no household remedy for when a Langsuir attacks. Just run. People plant thorny plants outside their house in hopes to snare the Langsuir. The floating head with organs hanging off are clumsy enough to get caught in the thorns and just die off. So, while a row of potted bougainvillea is pretty, it really is a mote of defense against Langsuir. Do you know anyone with such plants outside their house?


The name might confuse some of us. The ‘raya’ part is not associated with any festive holidays or celebrations. Also, the Hantu Raya is not a hantu at all. It is actually a demon or a Jin that slipped into our dimension. All the other hantus usually starts their career in hantu-ing as humans, but not this bad boy. They were born a hantu and they are passed from one generation to the next within a family. They are credited for making their owners rich, lucky and successful.

These hantus will do their master’s bidding down to the T, which includes murder. Paddy farmers are also known to have such creatures to help them plant the vast paddy fields before modern technology replaced their physical work. Think of them as old school machines or labourer but just a tad bit scarier and sinister. They won’t do their master any harm until the master decides that they want to go legit. That’s when you will see the wrath of a Hantu Raya unleashed. To stop it from creating havoc, a bomoh would capture it and lock it inside a glass bottle. The bottle would either be thrown out to sea, river, lake or even buried in the ground. This is why to this day, locals will refuse to open or break bottles they find in places where bottles don’t belong. 


If you are in a building built before the war, then chances are you’ve heard stories of the Hantu Jepun. During the war, schools and other government buildings were commandeered by the Japanese imperial army as their military bases. That was where tortures and executions would take place and when they had battles, these buildings are where most of them were killed. Hantu Jepun can appear headless because that was one of the more popular forms of execution at the time.

They could be seen wandering the halls or open spaces around the building at night with a sword or a bayonet. They don’t speak a lick of Malay so trying to communicate with them would be useless. Oh, and don’t try to bargain your life with them. If you ever see one, just hide. They don’t seem to have a nose of a hound. If you hide well enough, they won’t find you. 


Hantu Kom Kom are actually women who broke a no-no in ancient cosmetic surgery practices. A witch doctor would place a golden needle in a patient’s face and she is not supposed to see her reflection in mirrors or any reflective surfaces for 10 days. The women that could do it end up beautiful and desirable. The women who failed would turn hideous and forced to cover up their face. To redeem the mistake, they need to consume the blood of a certain number of virgins.

They look for children who they know are easy targets and most importantly, they are virgins. So, if children are out and about past their bedtime, they are fair game for the Hantu Kom Kom. A Hantu Kom Kom usually doesn't show her face, so the only ones lucky enough to see her face are the ones she’s consuming.

Hantus are engrained in our culture whether we like it or not. What lurks in the dark would scare even the bravest of us. It’s the fear of not knowing what’s out there that stops us in our tracks. Well, hopefully now that you’ve been armed with knowledge, these hantus will not bother you anymore.

Everybody has that friend that have seen and experienced encounters with these hantus and obviously, they lived to tell about it. So, will you?

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