Frolova M. V. Modern Forms of Indonesian Ghostlore

M. Frolova - Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State University Moscow, Russian Federation
ORCID: 0000-0001-9120-4671


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ABSTRACT. The images of ghosts and ghouls (hantu) in Indonesian folklore remain understudied both in the historical perspective and in terms of modern mass culture. The present article, based on oral and written texts, films and Internet-lore, aims to fill this gap. This case study tracks the etymology and the further transformations of meanings of seven mythological creatures names. According to the types of characters and their lore, the paper is divided into three sections. The first part identifies the almost faded original sacred meaning of the Jakarta street mummers ondel-ondel, which are considered funny urban art for children, and reveals their desacralization. Then the focus of the study shifts towards séances with effigies called jelangkung and nini thowong. The conclusions confirm Chinese influence in ondel-ondel performances and ritual plays with effigies of jelangkung and nini thowong, this influence often going unnoticed. The second part of the study introduces narratives about female ghosts of victims of sexual violence called sundel bolong and suster ngesot. The author demonstrates the persistence of the plot structure about rape and revenge, which is well compatible with the cinema language of the exploitation horror films. The third part of the study analyses urban legends about anthropomorphic monster rapists, i. e. the incubus gendruwo and the maniac sorcerer kolor ijo, whose images can be traced back from the myth to the real criminal cases. Demonization and further “hantu-isation” (term created by the author from the root morpheme hantu, a ghost) of criminals and their victims creates the new ghostlore reflecting on the theme of sexual violence, which is inconvenient for the official culture.


KEYWORDS: ghostlore, Indonesian demonology, childlore, postfolklore, Internetlore


DOI 10.31250/2618-8600-2021-3(13)-101-122
УДК 298.3(910)



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