Vampires we know and love #18: Pelesit and Polong: Vampires in my pocket

Think vampires are all the same? Think again! Vampires come in more flavors than Baskin-Robbins ice cream. So, this special DotW feature, Vampires we know and love, spotlights different kinds of bloodsucking fiends from around the world.

Pelesit and Polong: Vampires in my pocket

Aw! Mini vampires! They’re so cute! Or, maybe not.

The Pelesit and Polong are a tiny Malaysian vampire tag-team, each smaller than your index finger. The Pelesit goes into the ring first. It turns into a cricket to enter a house and find an unsuspecting sleeper. When it does, it cuts a hole in the person’s skin and uses its amazing cricket powers to call for its Polong partner in crime, by, er… chirping (I guess that’s why it needs a partner).

The Polong–who looks like a tiny woman–then crawls under the person’s skin and takes possession, making him/her die, raving like a lunatic.

But there’s another factor in the Pelesit/Polong combo: their master, a Malay magician, a jinjangan. The Polong that does the actual dirty work isn’t born, but created, to serve a wizard (or witch), and then sent after a certain target individual.

If you’d like to create your own Polong at home, naturally I’ve got the recipe. First, get yourself the blood of a murdered man (have fun with that), put it in a bottle, and recite secret charms over it. After seven or fourteen days, a bird-chirp will announce the birth of a Polong of your own. Feeding of your Polong is simple. It wants you. Cut your finger and put it in the bottle every day. This will sting a little.

The Polong has a couple weaknesses. Apparently it can’t take the heat because black pepper will drive it away. A good Muslim Imam should also be able to make a Polong that’s infected a person confess the name of its owner. But they lie sometimes, so don’t always trust what they say.

If you want a Pelesit to go with your Polong, that’s harder. My sources give two different methods, but they both have two things in common: an anthill and the tongue of an infant (not attached). R. O. Winstedt says it can only be created by women, and that she has to go into the forest, turn her back to the moon and her front to an anthill, recite a charm and catch her own shadow. With patience, a child appears. She has to grab its tongue. The rest of the kid then disappears. It turns into the Pelesit.

William Walter Skeat, in his Malay Magic: being an introduction to the folklore and popular religion of the Malay Peninsula (1900), says that the method is this:

Go to the graveyard at night and dig up the body of a first-born child whose mother was also first-born, and which has been dead less than forty days. On digging it up, carry it out to an anthill in the open, and there dandle it… After a little while, when the child shrieks and lolls its tongue out… bite off its tongue and carry it home. Then obtain a cocoa-nut shell from a solitary ‘green’ cocoa-nut palm, and carry it to the place where Three Roads Meet, light a fire and heat the shell till oil exudes, dip the child’s tongue in the oil and bury it in the heart of the three cross roads… Leave it untouched for three nights, then dig it up and you will find it has turned into a Pelesit.”