Shaman, Saiva and Sufi
II. GODS, SPIRITS AND GHOSTS
(a) PRIMITIVE GODS
THE Mantra, a Proto-Malay tribe, claim to be descended from Mertang, the first magician, who was the child of two persons called Drop of Water and Clod of Earth. In the Moluccas the earth is a female deity, who in the west monsoon is impregnated by Lord Sun-Heaven. The Torajas in Celebes believed in two supreme powers, the Man and the Maiden, that is, the sun and the earth. The Dayaks of Borneo hold that the sun and the earth created the world. The terms, “Father Sky and Mother Earth,” occur in the Malay ritual of the rice-year, at the opening of mines and of theatrical shows and in the invocations of the Kelantan shaman. A Kelantan account relates that sun and earth once had human form, sun the form of a man and earth the form of a woman, whose milk may be traced in the tin-ore of Malaya and whose blood is now gold. Actors in the north of the Malay Peninsula say that “the earth spirit, whom actors fear, is the daughter of Seretang Bogoh, who sits in the sun and guides the winds, and of Sang Siuh, the mother of the earth, who sits at the navel of the world.” Many religions at once unite and dissociate the fruitful earth and the gloomy underworld. But as Malay drama came from India, this northern tradition may be a corruption of Hindu mythology. By some Malay actors Raja Siu, lord of the surface of the earth, is invoked along with Siva, and the name is perhaps a corruption of Siva. Anyhow, in time Siva and Sri usurped the place of Father Sky (or Father Water, as he is sometimes called) and of Mother Earth in the Malay pantheon, and to-day even the existence of these two primitive gods has been forgotten.
The study of early cults shows that the place of a sky-god tends later to be taken by gods of the sun, the moon and the stars. So in some ancient layer of Malay beliefs before the introduction of Saivism, the white spirit of the sun, the black spirit of the moon, and the yellow spirit of sunset may have been important, seeing that they have Indonesian names (mambang), have been incorporated into the Malay’s Hindu pantheon, and have survived under Islam as humble genies.
“The fishermen along the west of the Peninsula sacrifice to four great spirits ” (also called mambang) “who go by many names but whose scope is always the same. One is the spirit of the bays, another that of banks or beaches, another that of headlands, and last and fiercest is the spirit of tideways and currents.” Three of these bear primitive names used by the Proto-Malays. The spirit of the tides is famous. The spirit of the bays is mentioned as a black genie and the spirit of headlands as a white. Was there originally a fourth spirit? To the three Proto-Malay names yet another, not convincingly authentic, is sometimes added. But only three of the four bear Sanskrit names. And the modern naming of four spirits after the Archangels may be due to the liking of the Malay Muslim pantheist for that number.
It is uncertain, too, if the primitive Malays, like the people of Madagascar and Celebes, believed in four gods of the air in charge of the quarters of the globe. In Bali Indian influence gave these gods Hindu names, and three are still worshipped there as forms of Siva. One Peninsular charm speaks of “the four children of Siva who live at the corners of the world.” A Perak charm describes Berangga Kala as the spirit of the West, Sang Begor as the spirit of the East, Sang Degor as the spirit of the North, and Sang Rangga Gempita as the spirit of the South. But generally the four corners of the world are held to be in charge of four Shaikhs, of whom the most often mentioned, ‘Abdu’I-Qadir, is probably the founder of the famous order of Muslim mystics.
A Malay knows of Vayu under the name of Bayu. But when with arms akimbo, loosened hair, and head-cloth streaming over his shoulder, the sailor whistled to the Raja of the Wind, he may have been invoking not Vayu but some indigenous spirit or the Prophet Solomon, to whom Allah gave dominion over the breezes of heaven.
In the Malay pantheon there is a mysterious black Awang, addressed by actors as king of the earth, who “walks along the veins of the earth and sleeps at its gate.” Apparently, therefore, he is identified with Siva, and this identification, if correct, suggests a high place for this forgotten figure of some early cult. But in a Proto-Malay charm to propitiate the aforesaid spirits of the sea, Warrior Awang figures as their servant, who climbs the mast of a ship in distress, a young man with “hairy chest, red eyes, black skin and frizzy hair.” A Kelantan charm, also, depicts him as a haunter of forest undergrowth, “a span in height, with bald temples, frizzy hair, red eyes, white teeth, broad chest, and feet and hands disfigured with skin disease.” This is a good picture of a Negrito, member of the oldest race in Malaysia, but it may be a posthumous description as applied to this god or godling of a primitive cult, who rides the storm and can cause ague and disease.
(b) SIVA AND THE HINDU GODS
A white genie, “jewel of the world,” lives in the sun and guards the gates of the sky. He has a brother, with seven heads, king of all the jinn. This white genie is entitled Maharaja Dewa, a Malay corruption of Mahadeva, the blue-throated Siva. The distinction between this white genie and his black brother, who lives in the moon, is sometimes obliterated, as in the invocation used when opening the stage for a ma’yong play:–“Peace be upon Mother Earth and Father Sky! … Peace be upon thee, Black Awang, king of the earth! … Peace be upon the blessed saints at the four corners of the world! … Peace be upon my grandsire, Batara Guru, the first of teachers, who became incarnate when the body was first created, teacher who livest as a hermit in the moon, teacher who rulest in the circle of the sun, teacher of mine whose coat is of green beads, teacher of mine whose blood is white, who hast but one bone, the hair of whose body is upside down, whose muscles are stiff, who hast a black throat, a fluent tongue and salt in thy spittle.” Incidentally it is interesting to find the Malay still paying homage to Siva as Nataraja, lord of dancers and king of actors, though to-day he is quite unaware of this name and róle of the Hindu god whose theatre is the world and who himself is actor and audience. In another Malay invocation the Black Genie too is painted as “having but one bone, the hair of whose body is upside down, who can assume a thousand shapes.” Though he has “one foot on the heart of the earth,” yet this Black Genie also “hangs at the gate of the sky.”
Batara Guru or Divine Teacher is the Malay name for Siva. And it is not surprising to find that on accepting the Hindu deities into their spirit-world Malays paid great homage to Siva under his sinister aspect of Kala the destroyer of life. Anyhow, here are the white spirit of the sun and the black spirit of the moon identified with manifestations of Siva. The spirit of the tides is often associated with the spirits of the sun and moon, and, again, the Malay expressly identifies him with Siva and makes Kala the dread god of the sea.
Furthermore, in Malay mythology there is a Spectre Huntsman, whom magicians identify with Siva. This Spectre Huntsman is even known by the various Malay appellations of the Divine Teacher such as “Raja of land-folk,” “Raja of Ghosts,” and “Gaffer Long Claws.” Now Siva, of course, was the Rudra of Vedic times. And it has been pointed out how in Rudra are found the same characteristics that distinguish the German Wodan (or Odin), namely those of a storm-god followed by hosts of spirits, a leader of lost souls, identified both in Malay and German legend with the Spectre Huntsman. The association by Malays of the Spectre Huntsman with Siva clearly corroborates the relationship between Rudra and Wodan and lends colour to the theory of an Indo-Germanic storm-god, the common source of the Indian and Teutonic myths.
The identification of Siva with Gaffer Long Claws finds a parallel among the Bhils, Kols and Gonds of India, who also confound him with a chthonic tiger-god. And like those tribesmen the Malay appears sometimes to confuse Siva with Arjuna, calling that demigod the earth spirit and king of the sea.
Last phase of all, Siva becomes father and king of the jinn imported with Islam. Even his white bull Nandi is yoked to the service of the new religion. According to early Hindu mythology Brahma, or according to later belief Vishnu, took the form of a boar and raised the earth out of the waters. Other stories current in India make an elephant or a bull the support of the earth. Muslim cosmogony definitely places the earth on a bull with forty horns having seven thousand branches, a beast whose body stretches from east to west. So the Kelantan magician invokes “the father and chief of all jinn practising austerity in the stall of the black bull who supports and fans and shakes the world.” The idea that the king of the jinn is the father of seven children may be connected with the Muslim notion of seven earths.
The wife of Siva is known to Malays as Mahadewi “the great goddess,” as Kumari “the Damsel,” and above all, as Sri, goddess of rice-fields. As Sri she may be said to have taken the place of “Mother Earth,” just as her divine spouse represented “Father Sky.” As Kumari she is supposed in the north of the Peninsula to have been made by Gaffer Mahsiku out of a bit of eaglewood. (In Patani a name for the earth spirit is Siriku.) The goddess married her creator. But the legend adds that she had one daughter by the god (deva) of the moon and one by the god of the sun, a remarkable preservation of the Malay myth that the Divine Teacher under different manifestations lived in both those luminaries. The same tradition adds that Kumari is invoked against lock-jaw and dumbness, because she made her eldest daughter live on a hill as an ascetic with her mouth wide open till it grew into a cave which Hanuman entered!
The Malay magician often vaunts that “the sword of Vishnu is before his face” to protect him. And with Siva, Brahma, Kala and Sri, this god presides over the five divisions of the old-world diviner’s day. Brahma is known as Berma Sakti, but hardly enters into Malay magic. In Kelantan, Krishna is said to be entreated to cure snake-bites and the stings of scorpions and centipedes. Ganesha, under the name of Gana, is little more than a village godling.
The Hindu demons and demigods that have found a place in the magic of the Malays may be conveniently inserted here. Of most of them the magician has only a literary knowledge. The Asuras exalted demons that war not against men but gods, are represented by Rahu, who causes eclipses of the sun and moon, and to the Malay mind is a huge dragon. Danu, a demon relation of his in Hindu mythology, is the serpent who inhabits the rainbow. In the north, where plays founded on the Ramayana are popular, Sri Rama, the hero of that epic, is a demigod invoked especially in charms connected, with the hunting of elephants, and Hanuman, the monkey-god, is an evil spirit with the face of a horse and the body of a man. There, too, the great Rishis or sages are invoked, and the magician takes shelter behind the name of Narada and the name of Samba, his derider.
Bhuta and Raksasa are often mentioned as demons even by Malay peasants. But to-day, at any rate, acquaintance with them is due mainly to popular romances that have come from the Deccan. The Malay will turn, for instance, to the story of Marakarma and read of a Raksasa who lights a fire as big as a burning town, pours rice on a mat a hundred yards wide, and eats it along with spiders, centipedes, lizards, flies, rats and mosquitoes that, overcome by the steam, drop on to his food; he drinks a well of water, hiccups like thunder, and picks from his teeth with a log chunks of food so large that they kill cat, goose or fowl by their impact. Of the cousinship between the Indian Bhutas and the Indonesian spirits of men who have perished by violence so little is known that in one account the Spectre Huntsman is called a Bhuta and in a Perak charm the great goddess Sri is described as the “Genie Bhuta Sri who presides over rice-fields!” But in fact it is not these immigrant demons that are the concern of the Malay magician.
For centuries the Muhammadan zealot and more recently the Ford car have invaded the fastnesses where Malaya’s illiterate priests of Siva invoked these alien deities. The Hindu gods continue to survive in invocations degraded to magical charms. Still, too, at the installation of a Perak Sultan the real Hindu name of the demigod, who descended on a Mount Meru in Sumatra and became the father of most of the royal houses of the Peninsula, is whispered by Sri Nara ‘diraja, keeper of the State secret, into the ear of the new ruler. He and his master are perhaps unaware that so at the initiation of a child into one of the higher Hindu castes his teacher whispers a formula containing the name of the god who is to be his special protector through life. It is to be hoped that fanaticism will never extinguish this voice from the past.
(c) GOOD AND EVIL SPIRITS OF DEAD MORTALS
The view that ancestor-worship is the oldest of religious practices no longer obtains. Some savages have believed in a god existing before the coming of death. Some sacrifice to gods and not to the ghosts of the departed. Others, exchanging old lights for new, have come to neglect their high gods and sacrifice to dead ancestors. Many have nature-gods. Besides, being a family cult, ancestor-worship cannot have accompanied the group-marriage of the most primitive tribes.
The origin of this form of worship is easily intelligible. The dead appear to the living in dreams. Or the dead may be born again in a child, who is the image of a forefather. A Malay prays at the grave of an ancestor to beget a child, unaware that probably his worship is based on the idea of the dead welcoming reincarnation. The exact likeness of a male child to his father, that is, the possession of two hosts by the same soul, causes alarm to a Malay; one of the boy’s ears must be pierced, otherwise either the father or the son is likely to die. Curiously, the resemblance of a girl to her father or of a boy or girl to the mother is of no moment.
That the dead can be kind to the living is a notion not foreign to the Malay mind. The ritual by which a Malay acquires the powers of a shaman suggests that originally the magician’s familiars were spirits of the dead. At the propitiation of the spirits of Upper Perak, invocations were addressed to the spirits of a famous Raja Nek and of the byegone magicians of the neighbourhood. A ruler looks to his royal ancestors for the protection of his person and his State, visits their scattered tombs after his installation or before any great enterprise, and when sickness afflicts his house sets a cooling potion for the patient overnight upon a family grave. As a Muslim the Malay makes vows to prophets and saints imploring their aid in the hour of need. In Singapore many vows are sworn at the shrine of Habib Noh, a humble clerk of the last century, who gave up the pride of the eye and the lusts of the flesh for religious asceticism until he could appear in several places at once. “In every part of Naning are found tombs of men famed for piety, in whose names the people make vows for the prosperous termination of any project and whose burial places they honour with frequent visits and oblations.” One outward and visible sign of the sanctity of such tombs is the supernatural lengthening of the space between the head and foot stones, supposed to be the work of the deceased. There are the long graves of Shaikh Muhammad and Shaikh Ahmad on Bukit Gedong in Malacca, the burial place of an old Achinese medicine-woman at Kemunting in Perak, the graves of Shaikh Sentang at Temerloh, of To’Panjang at Kuala Pahang and of To’Panjang at Ketapang in the Pekan district of Pahang. These sacred tombs, which exist throughout Malaya, bear an Arabic name (karamat), though the dead whose tenements they are need not be Muslim saints and may have been merely some powerful ruler or the revered founder of a settlement, or even a pagan trafficker with black magic. A celebrated shrine is the reputed tomb of Sultan Iskandar, the mythical last Malay ruler of ancient Singapore, whose grave on the slopes of Fort Canning is the resort of many suppliants; and a few years ago, when it was desired to explore it, no one, Malay, Indian or Chinese, would undertake the task. In Jempul, in Negri Sembilan, there is a grave shaded by a yellow-blossomed chempaka tree, whose branches are always hung with strips of white cloth to commemorate the vows paid to a magician interred beneath them. If the entreaty for health or a son or whatever may be desired wins a favourable answer, then failure to sacrifice the promised goat and hold a feast with prayers and cracker-firing beside the grave brings tribulation upon the perjured ingrate. The tenant of that Jempul grave was believed to attend his widow in the form of a tiger. He would frighten off his daughters’ lovers, protect the home when their mother was absent, and drive temporal tigers from their path. “There are many little graveyards throughout Jempul which are credited with having produced tigers out of-human corpses.” So, too, the spirit of the last chief of Muar is supposed to haunt the wooded hills round his home, a sacred tiger friendly to his people. The credulity of these Sumatran settlers in Negri Sembilan finds a counterpart in that of certain Patani families, who in sickness or misfortune invoke the aid of ‘To Sri Lam, an ancestor’s sister who turned into a crocodile. None of these spirits of the dead that can be gracious to suppliants are homeless ghosts; they are attached to a religion, a district or a clan.
Fear, however, leads to respect for many sacred places. The anger of a Malay ruler is dreaded when he is alive; it is not less terrible when he is gone. A European who visited the graves of the Johore princes at Kota Tinggi in 1826 records how his guide trembled on approaching the place, declaring that any injury to the stones would bring misfortune on all present and behaved “as if a demon was about to pounce upon him.” There may have been a peculiar reason for this. Among the tombs is that of Sultan Mahmud, the last representative of the royal house of Malacca, which furnished rulers for most of the Peninsular States. He alone of Peninsular rulers was murdered, stabbed to death for a sexual crime, the white blood of (Muslim saints and) Malay royalty gushing from his veins. Apparently he survives in Kelantan as a white genie, Sultan Mahmud, a sea-spirit, who can cause chills and ague. A chief, swearing to his suzerain that he had not offered a bribe to a Government officer, undertook in a tremendous oath (which came into my hands) to be smitten “by the majesty of the ruler and of his royal ancestors,” if he were committing perjury. Attributable, perhaps, to this fear of deceased rulers is the custom of dropping their real names after death and giving them such titles as “The Deceased who died at the Three Islands,” “The Deceased Pilgrim,” and so on. The magician also is not less terrible after death than in life. Only fear could regard as a sacred place the rock at Batu Harnpar, where a Sultan of Johore, caused to be executed a pagan jungle chief “detected in necromantic practices!” Three months after his execution this Jakun chief appeared to his son on the same spot and thereafter haunted it, sometimes assuming the form of a white cock.
Especially baneful are the homeless ghosts of those who perish by a violent death, of murdered men, of women who die in child-birth. To them no honour is paid. They are driven away by magical charms and amulets, by prickly thorns, ashes, and the stench of burnt herbs.
According to the Muhammadan faith those who die in child-birth are entitled to the rank of martyrs with whom God is well pleased. The Malay has found it hard to accept this comfortable doctrine. The horror of their untimely end led his ancestors to think that such women generate malevolent spirits. Throughout Malaysia terror is felt at the plaintive cry of a banshee (Pontianak), which is supposed generally to appear in the form of a bird and drive her long claws into the belly of the expectant mother, killing her and the unborn child. Another banshee (Langsuyar) flies in the shape of an owl with a face like a cat. The knowing imitate her hoot and utter the insulting ejaculation, “Your hoot is near, your grave is far, and you are sprung from the lid of a cooking-pot in a deserted house,” whereupon she keeps silent and cannot bring death or disaster to any one in the village. Or she may wear the form of a beautiful woman with flowing tresses. But in the nape of her neck is a hole, which she is terrified may be found by the smooth-scaled climbing perch, used therefore by the cunning to make protective amulets. She flies by night and the rustle of her tresses is as the rustle of rain. She loves to alight on tall trees and hide in the bird’s-nest fern. When this banshee passes, the pregnant woman should be bathed and the following charm recited over betel-vine, which must be given her to chew
I slay without asking leave
I behead without making enquiry
I am Allah’s champion on earth
I can destroy all creatures;
Only what I create I cannot destroy.
We are children of different seed!
O thou with broad bosom and small teeth!
Thou with flowing tresses and long nails!
Thou with the swaying gait!
If thou alightest on a tree,
Mistress Stickfast is thy name!
If thou alightest on a rapid,
Sang Rangga is thy title!
If thou sittest on a tree-stump,
The Fair Bhuta is thy name.
If thou alightest on the ground,
The Fair Swaying One thy name!
If thou mountest the house-ladder,
Thy name the Fair Sitter!
If thou sittest at the house-door,
Thy name the Fair Bar-door.
If thou sittest on a roof-beam,
Thy name the Fair Peerer!
If thou alightest on the mat,
Thy name the Fair Seated Woman!
Molest not the children of Adam
Or thou wilt be a traitor to Allah!
To prevent a woman who dies in child-birth from becoming one of these banshees glass beads are put in the corpse’s mouth to keep her from inhuman shrieking, hen’s eggs laid under her armpits so that she may not lift them to fly, and needles placed in the palms of her hands so that she may not open or clench them to assist her flight. (A hen’s egg is laid also under the arm-pit of a still-born child before burial.)
Another spirit (Penanggalan) which sucks the blood of those in child-bed, consists of a woman’s head and neck with trailing viscera, which shine at night like fire-flies. If she sucks the blood of woman or child, death follows. The lights of a hill in Perak called Changkat Asah, lights described in that most readable book on the Peninsula, George Maxwell’s In Malay Forests, are thought by the superstitious to be troops of these shining ones.
Then there is a class of familiar spirits created from the dead. Many Malays say that their several names are only dialect terms for one familiar, but others distinguish three species. The Bajang may be just a malignant forest spirit or, according to others, a man’s familiar. As the latter he is kept in a stoppered bamboo vessel and fed with eggs and milk. Released he will cause sickness and delirium to his victims, especially to children. His visible embodiment is a civet-cat. He may be the hereditary property of his owner, but more often is conjured at dead of night from the newly-dug grave of a still-born child. Pour the blood of a murdered man into a bottle and recite the appropriate charm, and after seven or twice seven days a bird-like chirp will announce the presence of a Polong. Every day the owner must feed this familiar with blood from his or her finger. Its victim dies raving unless through his mouth the Polong will confess the name of its owner and of any malicious person who may have hired it from that owner. But the best known of these familiars (Pelsit) is of the nigget type and takes the shape of a house-cricket. A woman goes into the forest on the night before the full moon, and standing with her back to the moon and her face to an ant-hill recites certain charms and tries to catch her own shadow. It may take three nights. Or she may have to try for several months, always on the same three nights. Sooner or later she will succeed and her body never again cast a shadow. Then in the night a child will appear before her and put out its tongue. She must seize the tongue, whereupon the body of the child vanishes. Soon the tongue turns into a tiny animal, reptile or insect, which can be used as a bottle imp. According to a more gruesome version the tongue that can change into this familiar must be bitten out of the exhumed corpse of the first-born child of a first-born mother and buried at cross-roads. This vampire cricket is employed especially by jealous wives to injure their rivals or their rivals’ children.
Besides these two classes of malicious birth-spirits and familiars, created from the corpses of man, there are graveyard spooks of the sheeted dead. In Patani one of the most noted of these (hantu bungkus) is thought to appear as a white cat or to lie like a bundle of white rags near a burial ground. “Should a person pass it who is afraid, it unrolls, twines itself round his feet, enters his person by means of his big toe and feasts within on his soul, so that he becomes distraught and dies in convulsions, unless a competent medicine-man can exorcise it in time to save his life and reason.” A bold person anxious to see ghosts has only to use as a collyrium the tears of the wide-eyed slow loris!
A relic of the Malay’s fear of the departed survives in the moribund custom of abandoning a house where a death has occurred.
(d) PRIMITIVE SPIRITS, FAIRIES AND GHOSTS
Spirits and ghosts that are not termed jinn by the Malay spontaneously may be classed together as flotsam of primitive beliefs. They may be the ghosts of men who lived too long ago to be associated ordinarily with the genies of a religion they never practised in their lives. They may be fairies too human to have sprung from smokeless fire. They may be godlings or nature-spirits too local or petty and neglected to have attracted the attention of the pious. Or they may be spirits too vague to have acquired a local habitation and a name. Challenged, the devout Malay would give to all of them the sinister canonisation of Jinn.
Some of this class are on the border-line between spirits and ghosts. There is the Spectre Huntsman, known generally as a ghost, in one aspect an avatar of Siva, in another an uxorious villager whose endless hunt for a mouse-deer for his gravid wife led to his being turned alive into a forest demon. In many lands a vanquished aboriginal people are allotted by their conquerors to the borderland class between ghost and spirit. Were it not that he also is identified with Siva, it would be tempting to include in it Black Awang in his shape as a Negrito (p. 7 supra).
Then there are “Bachelor” spirits, who may be forgotten godlings or the ghosts of youths cut off in their prime. There is the Bachelor Cock-fighter, who presides over mains and hates liars. There are the Black Bachelor and the Boy with the Long Lock, of whom Perak peasants speak.
There are a few spirits of high places, like the Chief of the mountain Berembun in Perak or Dato Parol, sainted lord of Gunong Angsi in Negri Sembilan and commander of an army of the dead who have sprung from their graves as tigers. Most famous is the fairy Princess of Mount Ledang in Malacca, who married Nakhoda Ragam, a wandering prince of Borneo. After his death at sea from the prick of her needle she donned fairy garb and flew to Gunong Ledang, whence she migrated later to Bukit Jugra further up the coast with a sacred tiger as her companion. Others make her consort of the founder of Malacca. But a foreign and literary origin is suggested for this fairy by the mention of her flying garb, the account in the seventeenth century Malay Annals of her garth, her singing birds and her demand, when a Sultan of Malacca wooed her, for a betrothal present of seven trays piled with the livers of mosquitoes, seven trays piled with the livers of fleas, a tub of tears, a basin of royal blood, and one golden and one silver bridge to be built from Malacca to her hill top.
There is a mysterious Grannie Kemang, known both in Sumatra and in the Malay Peninsula. In Perak it is thought that she will sow tares, a refuge for goblin pests, on the fresh clearing unless the farmer rise betimes to alleviate with cool offerings; the smart of the burnt forest. Her cooking-pot is the inexhaustible widow’s cruse of the Malay peasant. She is said to have taught the art of rice-cultivation. One Perak account speaks of her as the embodiment of the rice-soul. (In a Kelantan charm she is described as the nigget vampire and declared to be the product of the afterbirth.)
There are echo-spirits of the mountains, like men and women in shape. If one of them visits a mortal woman, she bears an albino child. A former Dato’ of Kinta lived with a female echo-spirit in a cave in the face of a limestone bluff, a beautiful woman called the Princess of the Rice-fields by the Hot Spring. One of his followers took another echo-spirit to wife. In three weeks she bore him a son, whom no mortal woman could suckle.
There is a vague dream demon, Ma’ Kopek, the hag that causes nightmare. Children playing hide and seek may lose themselves behind her prodigious breasts and be found days later dazed and foolish. Sometimes she takes them to a thorn-brake and feeds them on earth-worms and muddy water, which by her magic look and taste like delicate cates.
There is a Kitchen Demon, a gray dishevelled hag, who warms herself before the hearth at night and loves to blow into flame the embers in a deserted house.
There is the Spook that Drags Himself along. He wears the shape of an orang-outang, peeps into attics where fair maids sleep, and once carried a girl off up a tree and lived with her as his wife.
There are formless spirits that bring colic, cholera, smallpox, blindness. Most of these are unknown except to the medicine-man, who diagnoses, for example, one hundred and ninety nine spirits of smallpox according to the part affected, and names the one that attacks a patient’s tongue after the Muslim Angel of Death!
Formless too are maleficent auras that emanate from the corpses of murdered men, of slain deer, wild pig, wild dogs, certain reptiles and birds. “Soon after death the bristles on the back move, and stand on end with contraction and relaxation of the muscles; and to come within the range of the aim of these bristles, which have the position they assume when the living animal is enraged, is to invite the attack of the bahdi.” A white jungle cock, or indeed any jungle cock of unusual colour, a jungle cock that does not struggle in the toils but perches on the rod that suspends the noose, these have bahdi. “The bahdi have the power of bringing sickness, blindness or madness upon the hunter, and an attack of fever after unwonted exertion in a malarial forest is always ascribed to them. The jinggi can let the deer pass by the unwitting hunter in the form of a mouse or attack him in the form of a tiger. They can also give the hunter the appearance of the hunted and thus expose him to the fire of his friends. The genaling can kill the hunter outright.” In these auras the idea of potent soul-substance seems to have become merged in the idea of malicious spirits. The bahdi of a deer can be expelled by sweeping first a gun, then a branch, and finally the noose in which the animal was caught, over its carcase from muzzle to hind-legs; the noose is quickly slipped on to a stake and tightened round it. Here the magician appears to remove “transmissible properties of matter” to the stake. In Patani syncretism has given the aura of a murdered man the shape of a mannikin, and has made the auras of beasts the slaves of Siva. By some Kelantan magicians bahdi are said to be one hundred and ninety in number and are given a name (gana) meaning spirit. All these evil influences are sometimes classed with jinn.
With jinn, too, are often classed one hundred and ninety goblins of the soil (jembalang) that creep into the baskets of the reaper and round the stems of rice-plants, and infest hill and mountain and plain. Ordinarily their shape, if they have a shape, is not given. In Patani it is said they are the ghosts of men and, under Muslim influence, it is alleged that they may “be seen at night in waste places, leaning on long sticks, wearing red caps and eating earth. If any one is bold enough to seize one of their caps and swift enough to escape their pursuit, he will gain the great art of becoming invisible.”
There are numerous nature-spirits; the spirit of the river bore, that drowns men in its matlike curling wave; the spirit of the cataract that lies “prone on the water with head like an inverted copper”; spirits of the sea that settle on masts in the form of St. Elmo’s fire; spirits of the jungle track; spirits that tamper with the noose and snare of the hunter; spirits that live in trees especially where wild bees nest; the spirit of the faded lotus. Many a sacred place in jungle and grove, supposed now to be the site of some saint’s vanished tomb, is really a relic of primitive worship of the spirits of nature.
(e) ANGELS AND DEVILS OF ISLAM
To-day in every hamlet in Malaya, that has sufficient inhabitants to form a congregation, there is a mosque where, along with his fellow villagers, the magician acknowledges that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet. The office of Caliph or head of the Muslim faith within his own State is the most cherished prerogative of a Malay ruler. His installation is attended by the magician, once master of the ceremony but now merely an onlooker, who listens and hears the court heralds call to the four archangels to send down upon their new ruler “the divine majesty of kings by the hands of his angels: the angels of the rising sun, the angels of the evening, the angels who stand upon the right and left of the empyrean throne, the angel of the zenith and the horned princess, angel of the moon.” Suckled in creeds outworn, the magician sits at the feet of the pious and learns all he can about these angels and the demonology of the youngest of Malaya’s religions. He adds the names of angels and devils and spirits to his repertory of incantations.
He learns that there are angels, demons (or Shaitan) and jinn, all higher than man. Actually he has had a Malay account of Muhammadan mythology for nearly three hundred years in a work called the Garden of Kings, written in 1638 A.D. by an Indian missionary of Islam in Acheen. That work tells him of the four angels who bear the throne Of God, one in the form of a bull, one in the form of a tiger, one in the form of an eagle, and one in the form of a man. It tells also of the cherubim who cry incessantly “Glory to God.” But more interesting to him are the four archangels with individual names, who are concerned with the welfare of men. There is Gabriel, the angel of revelation, with six pinions, each composed of one hundred smaller wings; he is covered with saffron hairs; between his eyes is a sun, and between every two hairs of his body a moon and stars. Every day he dives three hundred and sixty times into the Sea of Light, and every drop of water from his wings creates a spiritual angel (Ruhaniyun) in his likeness. Two of his pinions he expands only when God desires to destroy hamlet or town. Two green pinions he opens only once annually on the night of destiny, when from the tree that stands by the throne of God the leaves fall inscribed with the names of those who shall die during the ensuing year. There is Michael, created five hundred years before Gabriel and five hundred years after Israfil. His whole body is covered with saffron hairs, every hair possessing a million faces having a thousand mouths, each mouth containing a thousand tongues that entreat the mercy of God, while the tears of his million eyes, weeping for the sins of the faithful, create cherubim in his likeness. These cherubim are his servants, who control rain and plants and fruits, so that there is not a drop of rain falling on earth or sea that is not watched by one of them. There is Israfil, whose head is level with the throne of Allah and whose feet reach lower than the lowest earth. With one pinion he envelopes the west, with another the east; with a third he covers his person, and with a fourth he veils himself from mouth to chest. Between his eyes is the jewelled tablet of fate. His duty it will be to sound the last trump on the day of judgment. There is ‘Azrail, who according to this version is not (as he should be) the angel of death but only his warder, and is like Israfil in appearance. The angel of death, bigger than the seven earths and the seven heavens, God kept hidden and chained with seventy thousand chains until the creation of Adam. When he was seen by the angels, they fell into a faint that lasted a thousand years. He has seven thousand pinions. His body is full of eyes and tongues, as many as there are men and birds and living things. Whenever a mortal dies, an eye closes. He has four faces. When he takes the life of prophet or angel, he shows the face on his head; the face on his chest is shown to believers, the face on his back to infidels, and the face on the soles of two of his feet to jinn. Of his other two feet one is on the borders of heaven, the other on the brink of hell. So huge is he that if the waters of all seas and all rivers were poured upon his head, not one drop would reach the earth. No living creature shall escape death except the four archangels and the four angels who bear the throne of God.
There is also a huge angel called Ruh or the Spirit, with the face of a man, who will stand beside the throne on the day of judgment and implore mercy for the faithful.
There are the two inquisitor angels, Munkar and Nakir, who visit the dead in their graves and enquire if they are believers.
Night and day man is protected from devils and jinn by two out of four attendant angels, who change guard at sunrise and sunset. Recorders of his good and evil deeds, they are termed Kiraman Katibin, the Noble Writers; good deeds are written down by the angel on his right, bad by the angel on his left.
Nineteen Zabaniah (or Guardian Angels), under Malik their chief, are in charge of hell.
Finally, Iblis, the fallen rebel angel who refused to prostrate himself before Adam, is commander of an army of supreme interest to the magician, the host of infidel genies or jinn.
Jinn or genies sprang from three mangrove-leaves, the green jinn from a leaf that soared into the green sky, the black from a leaf that fell at the gate of the forest, the white from a leaf that fell into the sea. According to another incantation they were created from the earth of the mountain Mahameru, the Malay Olympus with the Hindu name. So Malays believe, unless it is to be supposed that in such charms the magicians were merely inventing fictitious origins for spirits they wished to control. According to some incantations the genies of the earth were born of afterbirth, according to others of the morning star. One magician’s account says that jinn are sprung from the coconut monkey! Another declares that they were created from Sakti-muna, a great serpent: the king of the jinn from his life’s breath, the white jinn from the whites of his eyes, the black, blue, green and yellow jinn from their irises, the genie that lives in the lightning from his voice. Muslims hold that Jan was the father of all. the jinn, and Jan in the Quran also signifies a serpent. There is another legend with a Muslim colouring. When Cain and Abel were still in the womb they bit their thumbs till the blood came, and along with them were born jinn, black from the blood that spurted cloud-high, white from the blood that fell to the ground. So run the discrepant accounts of the Malay magician, who accepts also the Quran’s version that jinn were created from smokeless fire.
The account of genies in the Garden of Kings is as follows: Jan, the father of all jinn, was originally an angel, called firstly Aristotle but later ‘Azazil. When ‘Azazil refused to do obeisance to Adam, his name was changed to Iblis or Jan and his form into that of a genie; of the relation of Iblis to the genies, however, there are several variant accounts. Begetting a child every two days, Jan became the ancestor of all the genies, countless shadowy beings, numerous as the sands of the earth and filling hill and cave, forest and plain. At first they inhabited the lowest heaven. Thence they got the permission of Allah to descend to the earth, seven thousand troops of them. In time they fought among themselves and disobeyed God. So He sent Prophets and Angels to quell them and pen them in a corner of the world. To plague mankind jinn can assume any shape. Some take the form of men, others of horses or dogs or pigs, others of snakes, others of insects. Some can fly. Some can eat, drink and marry. One tradition talks of three classes of jinn, one winged, another in the form of dogs and insects, another in human form. A few are good Muslims and will go to heaven; most are infidels doomed to hell. Their great age is illustrated from the story of the genie detected by Muhammad under the disguise of a very old man. Being recognised as a genie, he admitted that he had met Noah and all the Prophets after him.
Again the Malay has read of jinn in his recension of the story of Alexander the Great. That world-conqueror meets a descendant of the genie Sakhr, who stole Solomon’s ring, and assuming Solomon’s shape reigned in his stead for forty days. He and his kin are guarding till the day of judgment a mosque built for Solomon by Sakhr in retribution for his presumption. He appears to Alexander in the form of a handsome youth but turns by request into his proper shape: huge as the mosque, having seven heads, each with two faces, each face having four eyes like tongues of flame, a cavernous mouth, teeth like fiery tongues, a nose like the nose of a bull; on each forehead are two snakey locks, and the genie has the feet of a duck and the tail of a bull! Near the border of the world where the sun sinks Alexander finds genies guarding King Solomon’s treasure-house of jewels. They are the descendants of human men and ten daughters of Iblis. When Alexander marvels, the Prophet Khidzr quotes the case of the Queen of Sheba, who had a human father and a genie mother, and showed this origin by the hair on her calves.
All jinn are the subjects not of Muhammad but of Solomon, to whom God gave authority over genies, the animal creation and the wind of heaven.
One Malay charm speaks of “Jin the son of Jan of the line of the Pharaohs,” a pedigree founded on the Arab notion that the last king of the pre-Adamite jinn was Jan the son of Jan, and that he built the Pyramids.
According to Malay belief there are jinn inhabiting the sun, the moon, the sky, the wind, the clouds. There are others whose homes or hosts are ant-hills, wells, rocks, the hard heartwood of trees, ravines, fields, swamps, lakes, rivers, mountain or plain. Others are genies of cape or bay, the sea, the tide, estuaries. Syncretism has included in these classes Indonesian soul-substance and nature-spirits and Hindu divinities; but one tradition of the Prophet also distinguishes three kinds of genies, one in the air, one on the land, and one on the sea. Malay medical lore, having borrowed from Arabia Plato’s theory of the origin of disease, differentiates a fourth class, the genies of fire and fiery sunsets.
The colour of a Malay genie varies according to his habitation. Genies of earth and the dark forests and lowering clouds are black. Those inhabiting the sky are blue or to the Malay eye green. The jinn of fire and sunset are yellow. In fleecy clouds and the shimmering sea they are white.
Just as Plato ascribed disease to disturbance of the balance of power between the four properties of earth, air, fire and water, out of which the body is compacted, so the Malay medicine-man ascribes all diseases to the four classes of genies presiding over those properties. The genies of the air cause wind-borne complaints, dropsy, blindness, hemiplegia and insanity. The genies of the black earth cause vertigo, with sudden blackness of vision. The genies of fire cause hot fevers and yellow jaundice. The white genies of the sea cause chills, catarrh and agues.
All these are external genies, visible to lonely wayfarers, to the magician in a trance or, according to Kelantan belief, to the gazer upon the finger-nails of small innocent boys. They can talk among themselves or through the mouth of the shaman medium. Genies of the earth may appear in human form “floating in the air and not always remaining the same size,” or in the form of animals or ants or scorpions or in any shape they please. The manufacture of old Chinese crackle-ware is ascribed by Malays to genies. Muslim genies haunt two mosques in Negri Sembilan, flitting to and fro in long white robes and sometimes chanting the Quran. If a person stand under a ladder and bathe in water wherein a corpse has been washed, he has only to stoop and look between his legs to see crowds of genies and demons sipping the water. Infidel genies of the earth are thought in Patani to assume the form of dogs and guard hidden treasure. If they take a fancy to a person, they change into little old men and leave sacks of gold for their favourites to remove. Peculiar bubbles on the surface of the water indicate the presence of jars of treasure placed by genies in pool or well. There is a genie “supposed to resemble the human form but to dart about like a will-o’-the-wisp” and daze the man that crosses it. Seize a genie and hold him, no matter what terrifying aspect he may assume, and one can wrest from him the secret of invisibility. “If a man had a tame genie, he could cause the meat from another man’s cooking-pot to come to him.” The founder of a house of great chiefs in Perak was a poor fisherman. His traps were repeatedly thrown on the bank and his weirs opened. He watched and saw the offender, a genie clad in the green robes and turban of a Muslim pilgrim. He seized the genie and refused to let him go. The genie said “Swallow this,” spat in his mouth, and told him that he would become the greatest chief in the country and his family prosper for seven generations.
But these external jinn (for whom Malay physicians find yet another origin suitable to their medical theories, namely wind) cannot inflict disease without the help of the class of genies that inhabit the bodies of men. So, at least, it is said in Kelantan. When the genie, whose host a man’s body is, has weakened him by loss of blood, coughing, dyspepsia, then only can jinn from outside enter and cause him hurt. There is a yellow genie controlling a man’s five senses. There is a white genie (jin or malaikat), also called the Light of the Prophet, that “takes up its abode in the heart of every Muhammadan and prevents him from being wicked,” Even these internal jinn have colour and shape. False etymology and recollection of the Indonesian bird-soul make Patani Malays identify a man’s white genie with a bird, one of Muhammad’s parrots!
In some genies abstract ideas seem to find a local habitation and a name.
The genie of bright desire,
Wearing bangles of brass and coat of steel,
The moral character of the white genie in man’s bosom may be due to confusion of this spirit with the Light of the Prophet. Genies, destined for heaven, are moral beings, and belong to the several schools of Muslim belief. The others are capricious and do not distinguish between good and evil.
The syncretism that has made the name of Malay jinn legion is patent in the Perak magician’s address to “the procession of the thousand jinn.” In that invocation the evil influence believed by Malay animists to invest the corpses of deer, Indonesian goblins of the soil, the Misty Beauty that floats over blind wells, the Piebald Pony, four spirit guardians of the corners of the world, Kala or Siva in his destructive form, Sri the Hindu Ceres, a Hindu Moon Fairy beautiful upon waters, the Herald of the World that dwells in the clouds with a name half Sanskrit half Arabic, Jamshid a spirit of the headlands bearing the name of a Persian king, the spirits of the Muslim dead-these and scores more are entreated so that the magician may display the wealth of his uncritical lore, offend none of the spirit world and let no genie escape the net of his magic.
An equally good example is found in the list of the guardian jinii of Perak, or, to give them their other name, the genies of the royal trumpets, whose indwelling spirits were fed and revived annually centuries before the coming of Islam. These include the Four Children of the Iron Pestle, Old Grannie from up-river, the Prince of the Rolling Waves, the Children of the Gaffer who lives in the sky. Brahma, Vishnu, and Indra are among them. King Solomon and ‘Ali, the fourth Caliph, find a place. There are royal familiars of the State shaman and his assistant. There is the Raja of all the jinn, who is throned on the breeze of heaven. There is the Sultan of the Unsubstantial World (maya), who condescends to the ear-posies of kings from his throne on a crystal car that is followed by all the Sultans of the universe. And there are spirits with royal titles in Persian, and female fairies with Sanskrit names. The list shows a wide knowledge of Malay romances, like the Hikayat Shamsu’l-Bahrain and the Hikayat Indraputra, that are based on Indian models and full of heroes and genies with Indian names. Acquaintance with such literature was an esteemed accomplishment at Malay courts. Among the jinn regarded by Perak commoners is ‘Umar Ummaiya, the Ulysses of the Persian romance of Amir Hamzah!
Shaman, Saiva and Sufi A Study of the Evolution of Malay Magic by R. O. WINSTEDT