Many Malay people believe in the spirit known as a Toyol (or Tuyul). It is a small child spirit invoked by a bomoh (Malay witch doctor) from a dead human foetus using black magic. It is possible to buy a toyol from such a bomoh.
The Toyol is somewhat similar in both looks and activities to the South African Tokoloshe, which we reported on previously on this blog.
A person who owns a toyol uses it mainly to steal things from other people, or to do mischief. According to a well-known superstition, if money or jewellery keeps disappearing mysteriously from your house, a toyol might be responsible. One way to ward off a toyol is to place some needles under your money, for toyols are afraid of being hurt by needles.
Some say that toyol has its origins from Mecca near the Kaaba (the belief refers to the Pre-Islamic Era where the Arabs used to kill their children and bury them all around Mecca. The Chinese (Cantonese) name for the toyol is guai zai (literally “ghost child”). The corresponding term in the Hokkien dialect is kwee kia with “kwee” meaning “ghost” and “kia” meaning “child”.
People normally associate the appearance of a toyol with that of a small baby, frequently that of a newly born baby walking in nakedness with a big head, small hands, clouded eyes and usually greyed skin. More accurately, it resembles a goblin. It can be seen by the naked eye without the use of magic, though they are unlikely to be spotted casually.
According to most Asian practices and beliefs, the afterlife of a person is taken care of by the family, in the form of a tablet. It is usually made of wood, with the name of the deceased engraved. A collection of tablets at an elaborate family altar is a typical item in a large (and often wealthy) family.
Following the same principle, the master of the toyol keeps its tablet and cares for it.
There is a price for having your own toyol. You have to feed it with your blood at regular intervals. Chicken blood may suffice for some of the less fussy toyols. Some people claim that the toyol’s appetite would increase as they perform more and more tasks, until the point where they may require fresh blood from an entire human adult to satisfy their craving. Sometimes toyols will accept money in place of blood.
In return, toyols do every bidding of their master, from petty mischief and creating inconvenience for enemies to robbery and even murder. Toyols require a “salary” equal to the task at hand, that is, if you require the toyol to turn the entire house upside down and kill the watchdog as well, then you will need to pay the toyol a certain sum of money as well as feed it with enough fresh blood to keep it happy. If toyols aren’t kept happy, there is a chance that they will turn against their masters. Otherwise they are fiercely loyal and may even defend the master’s honour without being told to.
According to other stories, a toyol must be fed with blood from a rooster.
In old village tales, people keep toyols for selfish but petty gains. They use such spirits for theft, sabotage and other minor crimes. Serious crimes, like murder, are usually beyond the capability of these toyols. A person who suddenly becomes wealthy without explanation might be suspected of keeping a toyol. The toyol is kept in a jar or an urn, and hidden away in a dark place until needed.
What happens at the end of the “contract” is not very clear. It could be that the tablet, along with the urn, is buried in a graveyard (with the relevant rituals), and the spirit is then laid to rest. An alternative method is to dispose them in the sea. Or else, a toyol gets passed down in a family through the generations. This seems to suggest that once you obtain a toyol, not only are you stuck with it for the rest of your life, but all your descendants will also be condemned to own it.
Although seemingly cunning, toyols are supposedly not very intelligent. It is said that they are easily deceived by marbles and sand and strands of garlic hanging on the door post or placed on certain parts of the house. The toyol will start playing with these items until it forgets its task at the intended victim’s house. Money placed under mirrors has the potentcy to ward off toyols due to a phobia of their reflections.
In 2006 A curious fisherman had found a bottle on the shores of a coastal village, believing that what he saw in it was a toyol.
Not wanting to have anything to do with it, the unidentified fisherman from Kampung Kuala Pahang rushed to nearby Kampung Siong, about a kilometre away, and passed it to a bomoh.
The bomoh, in turn, handed it to the state museum.
Word spread and soon hundreds of people turned up to view the Toyol in the bottle.
Subsequent investigation proved that the ‘creature’ was in fact a puppet which had probably been used for a spiritual rite and thrown into the sea.
In March, 2009, a primary school on Mukah, Indonesia was said to have been haunted by a Toyol. Exorcists were called in to drive it out. It was not known if the attempt was successful.
Read here about an encounter one person had with a Toyol.
Extracts from Wikipedia