Sunday, August 12, 2012

Magic In Traditional Malay Medicine

The modern traditional Malay medicine is as with other healing systems comprised of various components:

·         The theory and diagnosis

·         The herbs and diets

·         The breathing and stretching exercises (together with silat)

·         The massaging techniques

·         Leech treatment (to draw out toxin from blood)

·         Cupping and blood drawing (A method for removal toxins in the body)

·         Doa and Ruqyah according to Al-Quran and Sunnah

·         The use of keris for various purposes

·         The practice of Tenaga Dalam

·         Acupuncture etc. (Well, it is a modern world …)

Just sidetrack a little …

Before the tragedy of Highland Towers in Ulu Klang, a bomoh or a shaman has the task of curing the sick physically and mentally.

If someone can refresh my memory, there were not less than 30 shamans around the scene making all sorts of ritual and prediction. Many shamans said that: “Good news! There are more livings than the dead.” (Indeed the spectators at that time were all living beings! But unfortunately the fact is contrary to the prediction.); and also the case of the murder of a politician by bomoh Mona Fandey in the 90’s.

After the incidents, the reputation of shamans in Malaysia dropped to rock bottom. Having said so, there are still many types of shamans around practise in secrecy, especially near Malaysia-Thai borders.

Below are just some of the classifications:


1.      Bomoh Belian

a.       Employs tiger spirits, weretigers, the young cut-throat (bujang sembilih), Dato’ jinn hitam, hantu Raja Muda etc.

2.      Bomoh Mambang

a.       Employs mambang spirits.

3.      Bomoh Gebioh

a.       Similar to ‘mok pek’ but using semeru or kemantu twigs.

4.      Bomoh Mok Pek

a.       Using canes as divining rods.

b.      For curing sick, to discover lost or stolen property, and to cure witchcraft victims.

5.      Bomoh Puteri

a.       To cure the sick, to punish enemy, to discover stolen properties, to cause an abatement of epidemic disease etc.

b.      This is more serious form of magic.

6.      Bomoh Berbagih

a.       “Permainan berbagih” is adapted from wayang kulit or shadow play.

b.      Exhibits the influence of Hinduism.

c.       To cure the sick, black magic, finding lost or stolen property.

d.      The bomoh chooses a few of the shadow puppets to help him in the ritual.

e.       The most important character is the Black Sema or Dewa Sang Tunggal; he is always and perhaps exclusively used by the bomoh.

f.       Yellow Deva: (Betara Ikerma Jaya), Hero Prince (Radin Inu), Siva as the supreme guru (Sang Senohong or Betara Guru).

g.      Black Deva: Sema or Sang Tunggal, Betarra Narada, Narada Truas and Betara Kala (Siva the destroyer).


The bomoh practises the sorcery of berhantu.

1.      Bomoh Berjin

a.       Deals with elves and fairies of the forest who are descended from the fallen angels. They specialized in the ‘mambang’ spirits:

                                                              i.      Mambang kuning (the yellow spirit)

                                                            ii.      Dato Semar Laut (old man of the sea)


1.      Bomoh Orang Bunian

a.       Deals with the good fairies in the forest.

b.      Similar to ‘main petri’ but the bomoh dresses in white, other than that, he/she does not shake his/her head about like the bomoh petri.

I think I have covered most of the shamans in Malay Peninsula currently still actively serving public, but if you have more information, then kindly do let me know. Of course, I have not mentioned bomoh practicising black magic yet ;-).

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