Java, Vampires in

Java, Vampires in

(pop culture)

The Javanese shared much of their mythology with Malaysia and the rest of Indonesia. Included in that mythology was the belief in the pontianak. The pontianak was a bansheelike creature that flew through the night in the form of a bird. It could be heard wailing in the evening breeze as it sat in the forest trees. It was described variously as a woman who died a virgin (de Wit) or a woman who died giving birth (Kennedy). In both cases, it appeared as beautiful young women and attacked men whom it emasculated. De Wit noted that the pontianak appeared fairer than any love-goddess. Such creatures would embrace a man, but immediately withdraw after a single kiss. In the process they revealed the hole in their backs, which had been covered by the long tresses of hair. The man had to grab the hair and pull out a single strand, or he would be vampirized by the woman. If he failed, he would soon die; if he succeeded, he would live a long and happy life.

The pontianak also attacked babies and sucked their blood out of jealousy over the happiness of the mother. Infants who were stillborn or who died soon after birth of an unknown cause would be thought of as victims of a pontianak.


de Wit, Augusta. Java: Facts and Fancies. The Hague: W. P. van Stockum, 1912. Rept. Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984. 321 pp.
Kennedy, Raymond. The Ageless Indies. New York: John Day Company, 1942. 208 pp.
The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.