Pontianak


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Pontianak

(pôntēä`näk), city (1990 pop. 398,357), capital of West Kalimantan prov., W Borneo, Indonesia, at the mouth of a small stream in the Kapuas delta near the west coast. The chief city of W Borneo and an important port, it serves an area producing rubber, palm oil, sugar, pepper, rice, tobacco, and gold. Industries include shipbuilding and the processing of the region's products. In the city are the Univ. of West Kalimantan and a private university.

Pontianak

(pop culture)

The pontianak was a type of vampire found in Malaysia, Java, and throughout much of Indonesia. In Malaysia it was paired with the langsuyar, another Malaysian vampire, with whom it shared a common origin. The Malaysian langsuyar was originally a woman who gave birth to a stillborn child. The pontianak was that stillborn child.

As a vampire, it appeared as a night owl. To keep a dead infant from becoming a vampire, it was treated in a manner similar to a woman who died in childbirth: needles were placed in the palms of the hands, eggs were placed under the arms, and beads were placed in the mouth.

In Java and throughout the rest of Indonesia, the langsuyar and pontianak changed places, and the pontianak referred to the female night flying vampire. Raymond Kennedy found the Javanese speaking of the pontianak as a banshee who wailed in the night breeze for the child she had lost at birth. Augusta De Wit, also in Java, found that the pontianak was thought to be the spirit of a dead virgin. She seduced young men but as they embraced, she revealed the hole in her back. She would break the embrace after a single kiss and pronounce a death sentence on the man. He would die soon afterward if he did not grab her long hair and succeed in loosening a single strand.

In Malaysia, the following charm might also be said:

O Pontianak the Stillborn May you be struck dead by the soil from the grave-mound.

Thus (we) cut the bamboo joints, the long and the short, To cook therein the liver of the Jin (Demon) Pontianak.

By the grace of “There is no God but God”

Of the several Malaysian vampire spirit beings, the pontianak was the only one seen as a jin or genie, a type of spirit in Islamic mythology. In the mid-1950s Catay-Keris Productions began to make a series of movies based upon the pontianak as the beautiful female of Indonesian lore. Abandoned for a generation in the 1970s, the Pontianak returned to popularity in the new century.

Sources:

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.
Skeat, Walter William. Malay Magic. New York: Macmillan and Company, 1900. 685 pp. Rept. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1966. 685 pp.
Winstedt, Richard. The Malay Magician Being Shaman, Saiva, and Sufi. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1961.

Pontianak

 

a city on the island of Kalimantan (Borneo), Indonesia. Capital of Western Kalimantan Province. Population, 217,600 (1971). Pontianak is a port and an important commercial and transportation center in the Kapuas River delta, not far from the sea. Rubber, copra, pepper, and other agricultural products are exported. Industries include primary processing of rubber and production of wood products. Pontianak also has a food and condiments industry and a shipyard.

Pontianak

a port in Indonesia, on W coast of Borneo almost exactly on the equator. Pop.: 464 534 (2000)
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