Across cultures and geographical boundaries, there have always been stories of weird creatures that appear to dwell in a world between legend and reality. Often, what appears to be a pure legend is accepted as a genuine phenomenon, the local populations, to the point that it impacts their own lives and has real-world consequences. One such entity is said to lurk in rural parts of Malaysia, a wicked, dangerous creature that has generated terror in the local inhabitants for a long period of time known as Orang Minyak.
Originated from Malaysian legend, the Orang Minyak, or the “oily man,” is strangely reminiscent of something from a bizarre nightmare. The creature often manifests as a muscular man, always a man, nude or wearing just underwear, with golden, gold, red, or stark black eyes and skin covered in a thick, black oil that does not flow and is secreted rather than applied from the skin.
This oil not only helps the monster blend into the darkness but also helps it avoid capture, as it is thought to be hard to grip and hold. The Orang Minyak is supposed to possess a variety of supernatural abilities, including the capacity to mesmerize or psychically immobilize people, transform into invisibility, teleport, and silence people’s voices. Additionally, they are believed to be able to climb up walls like an insect and possess superhuman strength and speed.
These are all beneficial abilities for the creatures, as their most infamous feature is that they purportedly roam the countryside and villages looking for young virgins to rape, something they are said to be compelled to do due to their inability to resist the urge, equating them to a type of sexual vampire called an incubus.
These entities are typically described as supernatural spirits conjured up by powerful shamans or witch doctors to perform malevolent errands for their masters, though some traditions assert that they are men who became twisted through sexual depravity and transformed into demons, or those who struck a deal with dark forces to reclaim the affection of lost love.
In some tales, they are sorcerers who purposefully transformed into one of the creatures via the use of dark magic. Whatever their actual origins, it is stated that as their need and desire for sexual fulfillment develop, they graduate from virgins, and eventually, no one is safe from their vicious search.
Once an Orang Minyak has escaped, there are various traditional methods of dealing with it. One is for virgins to wear sweaty clothes to create the illusion of being with a guy, or to place a pile of unclean male clothing near the bed to function as a barrier.
Additionally, numerous charms and amulets are supposed to fend off the creatures, and one common method is to wrap one’s left thumb in a magically blessed fabric known as a batik. Some individuals just board up their doors and windows, while others burn incense, pray over their homes, or do all of the above.
A Malaysian spirit medium, referred to locally as a bomoh, can also be hired to perform a ritual or exorcism, which can be rather intricate and costly rituals that may not even succeed if the bomoh is not sufficiently powerful. A. Jessie Michael, a retired Associate Professor of English from Malaysia, talks about such an Orang Minyak exorcism in the Borderless Journal:
The bomoh arrived from across the state border with his paraphernalia of keris (dagger), frankincense, pots, roots, oils and herbs. The village women sourced flowers and limes to make large pots of infusions. The main ceremony began at the village hall where the bomoh lit a small bonfire in a pot, fuelled with the herbal leaves and roots. He held a silver keris hanging on a chain over the flames and declared that the swing of the keris indicated the presence of an evil spirit lurking in the village. Someone had sent this entity from the nether world and it was unlikely to leave until it had claimed its prey of seven virgins to satiate its lust if the exorcism was not performed. The bomoh threw incense into the flames and a great cloud of smoke enveloped him and most of the room. While the smoke billowed and the attendees choked on the pungent odour of the incense, he muttered incantations and occasionally gave an almighty shout, commanding the evil spirit to leave the village. The exorcism in the hall lasted an hour, ending with the medicine man sprinkling water infused with flowers and cut lime and into which he had blown and spat vehemently. No corner of the hall was spared. A similar but shorter, smoky ceremony was enacted at every house after which the occupants were instructed to bathe in the flower and lime infusion which they had prepared and into which the Bomoh had blown spells. Unmarried girls and women were given amulets to wear around their necks to ward off all harm. The following day all the public buildings were exorcised – the school, clinic, the police station, and as an extra precaution, the little mosque too. The villagers gathered at every building, the older ones, nostalgic for the practices of their forefathers and fearful of missing out on something, the younger ones fascinated by these old rituals they never knew existed in their culture. It was quite a spectacular performance at each stop. When it was all over, the bomoh was gratefully sent off with his tools and stash of cash. The villagers finally breathed in relief. The exorcism gave the village two weeks of peace. Then the bold, daring, greasy phenomenon struck again in the dark.
Accounts Of Encounter With Orang Minyak
Although this may sound as though it is all based on creepy beliefs and superstition, the residents of these afflicted places firmly believe that these monsters exist, and encounters are frequently reported in Malaysian news outlets. According to one story, the Malaysian community of Kampung Laksamana was harassed in 2012 by not one, but two Orang Minyak, and one witness stated:
One is tall, stocky and bald while the other is thin and curly haired. I saw the bald orang minyak hiding behind the water tank of a house at about two in the morning. It was breathing really loudly, like a cow. It was black and shiny. When I shone my light on it, the thing stuck out its head to look back at me. It was crawling up the stairs of the house, just like Spiderman. When it reached the top it suddenly jumped onto the roof. I don’t think a human could do that. It then just disappeared. The hair on my hands just stood up. We can laugh and joke about it, but this is serious. All the families here have young girls.
Other accounts are much scarier, with women claiming to have been assaulted by the monsters. According to one such report from the Borderless Journal:
That night Muna felt a slimy hand smelling of car engine oil trying to smother her. She could not scream but her hand clutching the knife obeyed her father instructions. She swung the knife hard against the thing’s back and it yelped. Her scream had her father out, swinging the pounding stick but he hit only air. The thing was gone. He rushed out and could not spot anything. The moon was shining full and looking up he saw, silhouetted against the silver orb, a black dog flying. “Allahu Akbar,” he muttered repeatedly. The neighbours were alerted and they came with their lanterns. They could only see the gap on the floor of the raised house where the Orang Minyak had removed a plank, and traces of blood on the knife, nothing else.
With anxiety fed by such reports, widespread panic frequently develops throughout the region, to the point where locals frequently take matters into their own hands, feeling that the authorities are unable to protect them enough. It is not unusual for frenzied groups of armed individuals to come to the streets in search of the Orang Minyak, which frequently ends brutally when someone are mistaken for one of the supernatural prowlers.
We are left to question whether this is only a case of mass panic fueled by superstition, legend, and the imagination, or whether there is more to it. If all of this is true in some way, what are we dealing with? Is it a spirit, an unexplained entity, or just perverts covered in black goop? Whatever the case, the Orang Minyak legend has persisted in Malaysian folklore and among paranormal circles; the inhabitants of these places think they are genuine, and whether they are or not, they remain a very unsettling addition to the realm of the strange.
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