7 ghastly grotesque ghosts of Asia

Things that go bump in the night never fail to fascinate Malaysians. (pixabay.com pic)

Chinese superstition decrees that the seventh month of the lunar calendar is the time when the gates that separate the realm of the living and the dead are open.

During this month, supernatural events and paranormal encounters are supposed to be common.

To your modern sensibilities, this might come off as inane bunk, but a good ghost story is still fun to listen to even as a sceptic.

So who needs the west for spooks when Asia has its own fair share of ghouls?

A giant skeleton hovering above you will probably elicit something more than a glare of annoyance. (Wikipedia pic)

1. Gashadokuro

Are you visiting Japan soon? Be sure not to stay out late at night, it’s not just petty criminals you have to fear, but also a giant bloodthirsty skeleton.

The Gashadokuro is said to be born from the bones of people who died of starvation or in battle and were not given a proper burial.

The only clue that gives away its approach is a sharp ringing sound in the ear. This abomination will bite your head off and drink your blood.

In Chinese films, jiangshi are played up for comedic effect, like in this 1985 Hong Kong film Mr. Vampire. (Golden Harvest pic)

2. Jiangshi

A particularly prominent Chinese mythological creature, the jiangshi is a zombie hopping about with outstretched arms, dressed in Qing Dynasty court attire.

It bears some similarity with the Malay pocong, but only in their mode of locomotion.

While pocongs hop about because of their restraining bonds, the jiangshi, being a reanimated corpse, has difficulty in moving its limbs.

The jiangshi are also more bloodthirsty than their Malay counterparts, killing living creatures to absorb their “life force”.

The disdain that the Han Chinese had for the Manchu emperors probably explains why they are garbed in Qing Dynasty clothing.

Similar to the Twilight series, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho has certainly put a strange spin on heart-devouring fox spirits. (BON Factory pic)

3. Kumiho

Fox spirits are found in the mythologies of most East Asian cultures, with China, Japan and Korea having their own spins on this seductive spirit.

While the Chinese and Japanese variants have an ambiguous sense of morality, their Korean counterpart is evil through and through.

Similar to the Western succubus, the kumiho transforms into a beautiful woman that lures young male admirers in to devour their heart or liver.

They also hang around cemeteries, digging up freshly buried corpses to devour their hearts.

A sign that gives away the true nature of the kumiho is that even their human disguises will have some resemblance to a fox.

Pity the krasue with an itchy nose. (Xavier Romero-Frias pic)

4. Krasue

In another case of cultural similarity, the krasue of Thailand is akin to the penanggalan of Malaysia.

Taking on the appearance of a floating woman’s head with entrails hanging below, the krasue also has fangs.

However, rather than just blood, the krasue has an appetite for faeces and carcasses.

Like the penanggalan, the krasue preys on pregnant women, eating foetuses and placentas.

Fire is most effective at destroying a krasue.

No mention of tiyanaks having dreadlocks is ever made in most legends. (Regal Films pic)

5. Tiyanak

Talk about children from hell. The tiyanak of Pinoy mythology is a vampiric beast that looks like a baby and uses its cries to lure unsuspecting kind-hearted passers-by.

Once within reach of its unlucky victim, it shows its true form before devouring them.

Other than eating people, it also entertains itself by leading travellers astray and abducting children for its own consumption.

They remain popular in Filipino horror films.

Perhaps the Baak was made up by parents wanting to scare their children away from swimming. (Renzat pic)

6. Baak

Tales of this malevolent creature originate from the Indian state of Assam. A grotesque aquatic abomination, it resides in bodies of still water like ponds, lakes and wells.

The baak murders people foolish enough to draw close and assumes their form to continue its killing spree.

It also feasts on corpses of drowned swimmers or bodies dumped into the water.

These flesh-eating monsters are a convenient bogeyman for Indian parents to tell their kids not to go for a swim without permission.

Getting possessed by a jinn who looks like Will Smith can’t be that bad. (Walt Disney Studios pic)

7. Jinn

One of the most infamous supernatural creatures in Malaysia, jinn have their origins in Arabic mythology.

The blame for cases of “demonic possession” in Malaysia is mostly laid on the jinn.

They target those who are emotionally down or spiritually weak, and once possessed, the behaviour of the person will be erratic.

The threat of possession by jinns is taken seriously to the extent that a certain local university spent RM15,000 on gadgetry to try and prove their existence.