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Master Orthodox Occultist Oregon Chang, The 17th generation Disciple of Seven Stars Sword Master Hebei China

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Pontianak: A Globalised Ghost

Author: John Walsh

How does a white-faced spirit from the Malay world become identified with the long-haired girl from The Ring?

One of the less commonly commented on aspects of globalisation (which should more properly be called regionalization) is the way that ghosts have all started to look the same. Of course, some cultural aspects such as Buddhism, Confucianism and the spread of migrants, all contributed to the fact that different countries in East Asia have similar elements in their society. However, more recently, the spread of mass media artifacts, including books and films, has led to a new wave of assimilation of cultural items into a cross-border approximation.

For example, the Pontianak (also called the Kuntilanak) is a ghostly spirit that is familiar across the Malay world. The ghost represents the spirit of a woman who has died giving birth and who appears, therefore, as a white-clad creature combining misery, despair and anger. The Pontianak customarily appears by the side of the road or, at least, it is when people are walking along a road that they might encounter her. Clearly, not only is the Pontianak a frightening figure in herself but she is likely to be ill-disposed towards men in particular whom she might blame for causing the pregnancy which then killed her.

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