10 Worldwide Typical Indonesian Mythological Animals

Indonesia is a multicultural country consisting of more than 300 ethnic groups with different languages, cultures, customs and beliefs. Closely related to belief, usually every ethnic group has at least one mythological animal that is part of the community’s local wisdom wealth. However, as time goes by, now the existence of mythological animals in Indonesia has begun to be shifted and forgotten by modernization.

According to the Big Indonesian Dictionary, mythology is the science of literary forms that contain sacred conceptions and tales about the life of gods and spirits in a culture. Mythological creatures are creatures whose existence is told in mythological stories, legends and fables. The creature is also related to the folklore of a tribe.

Mythological animals are generally fantastic, both form and ability. Because the story is a myth, its existence is believed by the people who adhere to the mythology in question. Therefore, people who do not adhere to it can equate mythological animals with imaginary creatures (imaginary creatures). Today, fantastic creatures reported as sightings and rumors are categorized as cryptids (creatures in hiding).

In its development, creatures in legends are used as symbols and decorations for buildings. These creatures are also adapted in popular culture, especially in games, fantasy fiction novels, Hollywood movies, and even power metal bands.

As part of the myth, mythological animals are believed to be creatures that actually exist by the adherents of the mythology in question. Mythological creatures appear in folklore, works of art (sculptures, decorations, and dances), and so on.

The existence of mythological creatures is closely related to beliefs and their origins can also be traced from books that contain narrations, which are believed to be true by their followers. For example, in the Qur’an (Islamic holy book) it is stated that the jinn were created from fire, while the angels were created from light. Meanwhile, in Hindu mythology described in the Puranas it is told that the gods are believed to be the descendants of Aditi (hence the name Aditya), while the giants are the descendants of Diti (thus they are called Detya).

Just like mythological creatures from other countries, mythological creatures in Indonesia are also accompanied by supernatural stories or stories of gods and goddesses. These creatures are no less interesting than the Greek mythological creatures that are well known on the international scene. Here’s the discussion!

1. Garuda

Balinese version of Garuda painting, by I Made Tlaga, a 19th century Balinese artist. This painting is now kept at the University of Leiden.

Garuda (Dewanagari: गरुड़; International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration: Garuḍa) or Garula in Pāli (Dewanagari: गरुळ; International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration: Garula) is one of the anthropomorphic-mythological creatures in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

According to Hinduism, he is the vehicle of Lord Vishnu (one of the Trimurti or three main gods); in Buddhism, he is Dhammapala or Astasena; and in Jainism, he is one of the Yaksas (protector deities) of Tirthankara Shantinatha.

Garuda’s physical interpretations vary. Mostly, he is depicted as being covered in golden fur, with a white face, and red wings. Its beak and wings are similar to that of an eagle, but its body is often human-like. It is so large that in one story it can block the sun.

The story of Garuda is found in the Mahabharata and Puranas from India. The Japanese also know a creature similar to Garuda, which they call Karura. Garuda in Thailand is known as Krut or Pha Krut. Indonesia and Thailand use the Garuda as their national symbol.

2. Ahool

Based on the news circulating in the community, apart from Mount Salak, Ahool occupies tropical islands spread across Java. He often flies like a bat but has a giant shape. His form is depicted with an ape-like head, large black eyes, large claws, his arms filled with gray hair and has long wings with a span of up to 3 meters.

The Ahool is often seen crouching in the forest, with its wings tightly closed. This mythological animal is thought to be a nocturnal creature, who often spends the day hiding in caves located behind or under waterfalls.

At night this mysterious flying creature usually just comes out of the cave and starts exploring the big rivers in search of fish for food. This means that Ahool could be similar to bats, because they live in the darkness of caves and are nocturnal.

In Africa, local people call this creature the name Kongamato which is said to be in the Cameroon region, western Zambia, Angola and Congo. Local residents also believe that his figure has often been seen in the past. There is also another theory that says the Ahool was the world’s first flying primate. Legends of a giant bird have also been a part of North American culture for centuries known as the Thunderbird.

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Until now, this Ahool cryptid creature, which was given the Latin name Pteropus boomus, is still a mystery. Moreover, until now there is no physical evidence that shows the existence of living things like Ahool in the rainforests of Java.

3. Bati people

Apparently, Ahool has a twin in Maluku named Orang Bati or a winged human with a physique resembling a great ape with bat-like wings. This Indonesian mythological creature is believed to live on Mount Kairatu on the island of Seram and roam at night to prey on small children and livestock, causing fear in villagers.

Just like Ahool, Orang Bati also like to scream to create an eerie atmosphere. It is said that a British missionary named Tyson Hughes and members of his team who came to Maluku saw the Bati around 1987. The Bati, known as flying people, are also popular in other parts of the world, such as Zambia, Papua New Guinea and Congo.

4. Leaks

Statue of Rangda, Queen of the Leaks.

In Balinese mythology, Leak is an evil witch. Leak can only be seen at night by the shamans who hunt for leaks. During the day he looks like an ordinary human, while at night he is in the cemetery looking for organs in the human body that are used to make magic potions. This magic potion can change Leak’s form into a tiger, monkey, pig or become like Rangda. If necessary he can also take organs from living people.

Leak in Bali is often identified with the evil behavior of adherents of the left or pengiwa teachings, namely in the form of a human head with organs still hanging from the head. Leak is said to be able to fly to look for pregnant women, to then suck the blood of babies who are still in the womb. There are three well-known leaks. Two of them are female and one male.

According to Balinese beliefs, Leak is an ordinary human who practices evil magic and needs embryo blood to live. It is also said that Leak can transform himself into a pig or fireball, while the real form of Leak has a long tongue and sharp teeth. Some people say that Leak magic only works on the island of Bali, so Leak is only found in Bali.

Someone stabbed Leak’s neck from the bottom to the head when his head was separated from his body, so Leak couldn’t be reunited with his body. If the head is separated for a certain period of time, then Leak will die. In the Durganing purwa ejection, it is stated that there are about 35 types of leaks, including pemoroan leaks, nengkleng leaks, ugig leaks, all of which connote badness in adherents of the leak science.

5. Dragon Besukih

Naga Besukih is a mythological creature originating from and trusted by the people of Bali. The story of the Besukih Dragon also appears in the legend of the creation of the Bali Strait. It is said that the Besukih Dragon resides under the crater of Mount Agung.

One day, a holy Brahmin named Sidi Mantra meditated on Mount Agung to ask Naga Besukih’s help to solve debt problems caused by Manik Angkeran, his son who likes to gamble. Long story short, the dragon agrees to help him on the condition that Sidi Mantra’s child must stop gambling, but it turns out that Manik Angekran has not changed. The story ends with the creation of the Bali Strait by Sidi Mantra’s stick which separates Bali and Java.

6. Warak Ngendhog

If the Besukih Dragon is described as a big and powerful dragon, it is different from a small dragon named Warak Ngendhog from Semarang. Warak ngendog is a mythological animal which is a symbol of the harmony of three ethnic groups in Semarang.

This warak takes the form of a buraq with a dragon head and four legs like a goat which is a blend of the three ethnic cultures in Semarang, namely Arabic, Chinese and Javanese. Warak ngendog became a symbol of acculturation of local cultural elements when Raden Pandanaran spread Islam in the Semarang area.

Usually, Warak Ngendhog is paraded in the Kebyaran Festival or Dugderan celebration which is held to welcome the coming of the month of Ramadan. Warak Ngendhog has a scaly body, a gaping fanged mouth, and a face that is quite hideous as a symbol of lust that must be fought. The word “Warak” comes from the Arabic “wara’i” which means holy, while “ngendhog” is a Javanese word which means “laying eggs”, which is symbolized as a reward from fasting.

7. Mante tribe

This mysterious tribe is very unique because they are said to be the ancestors of the Acehnese who are still alive. However, finding it until now was still a difficult task. In 2017, there was a viral video of several motorbike riders meeting small rural people who were running very fast, it was suspected that they were members of the Mante Tribe.

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Mante has a stunted physique with a maximum height of 1 meter, tan skin, and very long dreadlocks. This tribe still lives in a primitive way and is very closed to humans, they are even very afraid of humans.

The Mante tribe is thought to belong to the Proto Malay family, initially settling in the area around Aceh Besar, and living in the interior of the forest. These indigenous tribes are thought to have emigrated to Aceh via the Malay Peninsula. In the Aceh legend, the Mante and Karo tribes are mentioned as the forerunners of the Kawom Lhèë Reutōïh (three hundred tribes), which is one of the original Acehnese population groups.

At present, the Mante tribe has become extinct or disappeared because it has been mixed with other immigrant tribes that came later. Until now, there is still no strong scientific evidence for the existence of this tribe.

8. Sembrani Horse

The Sembrani horse is a mythological animal taken from the legend of the Indonesian people which describes a winged horse that can fly and is very brave. In the puppet story, Sembrani’s horse is Batara Wisnu’s horse. Meanwhile, according to Javanese folklore, Sembrani is a means of transportation for kings, queens and senopati who according to the story say that when traveling they always use the Sembrani horse so that they can easily and quickly reach their destination.

In popular culture, the Sembrani horse is often confused with Pegasus, although the two are different and the Sembrani Horse has no connotations from Greek mythology. A more appropriate equivalent for the Divine Horse might be the Flying Horse or the Mystical Horse.

9. Nyi Roro Kidul

Nyi Roro Kidul or Nyai Roro Kidul is a legendary Indonesian spirit or goddess who is very popular among the people of the island of Java. This figure is known as the Queen of the South Seas (Indian Ocean) and is generally equated with Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, although according to some circles the two are actually different.

In Javanese mythology, Kanjeng Ratu Kidul is a creation of the god Kaping Telu who fills the realm of life as the Goddess of Rice (Dewi Sri) and other natural goddesses. Meanwhile, Nyi Roro Kidul was originally a daughter of the Kingdom of Sunda who was expelled by her father because of her stepmother’s actions. In its development, people tend to equate Nyi Roro Kidul with Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, even though in Kejawen beliefs, Nyi Roro Kidul is a loyal servant of Kanjeng Ratu Kidul.

Nyi Roro Kidul’s position as Queen-LeSoft of Java is a popular motif in folklore and mythology, as well as being associated with the beauty of Sundanese princesses. Nyi Roro Kidul is also known by various names that reflect different stories of her origin, legend, mythology, and hereditary stories. He is usually called by the names of the Queen of the South Seas and Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Kidul.

According to Javanese customs, the use of titles such as Nyai, Kanjeng and Gusti to refer to him is very important for politeness. People also call it grandparents (grandmother). In the form of a kind of mermaid, she is called Nyai Blorong.

Sometimes people also mention her name as Nyai Loro Kidul. Javanese loro is a homograph for “two – 2” or “pain and suffering”. While the Javanese rara (or roro ) means “girl”. A Dutch ortographer predicts that there has been a change from Old Javanese roro to new Javanese loro , resulting in a change in the meaning from “beautiful girl” to “sick person”.

10. Kuyang

Kuyang, Krasue, or Palasik is a folklore about a demon in the form of a human head with body contents attached without skin and limbs that can fly to find the blood of babies or women after giving birth. This creature is known to the people in Kalimantan. Kuyang is told as a human (woman) who demands the teachings of black magic to achieve eternal life.

During the day, a kuyang will go about his daily life as an ordinary person, but he usually wears a robe. At night the kuyang will fly to look for baby’s blood or birth blood to be sucked as a means of increasing the power of his knowledge. People who see kuyang flying usually see it like a big bird. To deal with it, the victim needs to use a palm broom or hit household items such as pots or pans.

Those are Indonesian mythological creatures that come from various regions. Some of the creatures above are also believed to be demons or ghosts, for example, Kuyang. Do you think the creatures above are more terrible than mythological creatures from other countries?