Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology

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PENANGGLAN

(PEN-non-gwen)
Variation: Pananggaln, Panangglan, P?nangal, Penanggalan, Pennanggalan, PONTIANAK
In Malaysian lore there is a type of female vampiric creature that is called a penangglan. Usually it is created when a woman dies in child-birth, but there is another circumstance that can cause a penangglan to come into being: if a woman in the process of performing religious penance is so surprised by a man that she literally dies of the shock.
A penangglan can pass as a normal woman by day, but at night it can detach its head from its body and fly off, dangling all of its soft tissue organs beneath it, everything from the esophagus to its rectum. As it hunts, it drips toxic bile that, should it touch human skin, will cause the person to break out with open sores. It flies out looking for its prey: children and women in labor. It despises children bitterly and takes great delight in killing them. The penangglan cries out, "Mangilai!" when a child is born. Only if its usual prey is not available and it is hungry enough will it settle for the blood of a man. When it returns to its home, its intestines will be bloated with the blood from its victims, so it dips them into a vat of vinegar to shrivel them up so it will fit back into its body.
To prevent the penangglan from flying near one's home, a person should place the thorny branches of the jeruju plant on the roof, as the thorns will snag on the dangling organs, trapping it. There is no known way to destroy a penangglan, but if someone manages to figure out who in the village the penangglan is, he can wait for it to detach from its body and leave. While it is gone, he must sneak into its home and destroy its vat of vinegar as well as its body. When the penangglan returns from its hunt, it will not be able to continue its ruse as its body is no more and its vinegar is not available to shrink up its organs.
Source: Laderman, Wives and Midwives, 126 ­27;
Skeat, Malay Magic, 325­28; Wright, Vampires and Vampirism
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