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The Pontianak was a vampire from Java. It 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.

The Pontianak was described as a woman who died a virgin or a women who died giving birth. In either case, it appeared as a beautiful young woman and attacked men after emasculation . The Pontianak appeared fairer than any love-goddess.

The creature was known to embrace a man, but immediately withdraw after a single kiss. In the process, they would reveal 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, 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 Pontianaks.

In Malaysia, the following charm might have been said:

O Pontianak the Stillborn
May you be struck dead by the soild 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”