Among demonic spirits, Tuyul is the most skillful of them all.

Victoria Tunggono   12 August 2016 12:54 - As we continue to profile the ghostly characters of popular Indonesian legend, we come to Tuyul. Spiritual beliefs like this are still prevalent. 

This demonic creature widely known in the country, especially in Java. The Tuyul appears as the figure of a child with a bald head, pointed ears and pointed, wolf-like teeth. It is believed that Tuyul came from the fetus of a miscarriage or a stillborn child that was filled with evil spirits.

Tuyul has a child's characteristics and loves to play, even in the middle of the night.

In Islam, Tuyul is categorized in the Ifrit group of genies. It is believed Tuyuls were first discovered by Azazil, the son of the Devil and an expert in research and experiments. Azazil created Tuyul as an apprentice from the blood and flesh, of an aborted fetus.

These fetuses are then “filled” with genies and demons to lead humans into temptation to get rich by taking shortcuts.

Tuyul can be employed to steal people’s money, but the payment involves blood from the breasts of the master’s wife, or her toe. Tuyul is believed to live in statues of small babies and can be awoken using fresh human blood. Once fed, the master can then order it to steal money at night. 

Tuyul is invisible to ordinary people, so to avoid getting robbed people place small crabs in the corners of their homes, in the belief that Tuyul will get distracted by them and end up playing instead of stealing. They also keep their money bundled with an elastic rubber band or wrapped in a banana leaf to make it harder for Tuyul to take.

But above all, prayer and closeness to God are the best ways to protect the whole house and family.

If you want to dance with the Devil, however, there are three ways to get a Tuyul: You can buy it, summon it or inherit it. 

1. Buy Tuyul from a hunter

Tuyuls come for sale in pairs. A package of first-class Tuyul containing a male and a female can cost roughly Rp 10 million. They are already trained to steal money so the buyer can enjoy the results straight away. The hunter would have to capture the “wild” Tuyul by using poniba salwa oil, opium, mung bean, crabs and core of ara as bait, and cast a spell to tie it. Tuyul can be found mostly in watery areas like rivers, swamps or ponds.

The oil and opium should be burned to attract Tuyuls. Then dirty “children” would show up, playing with the mungbean and crabs. The hunter would cast a spell to bind them and bring them home in the branch of a fig tree or inside a bottle.

At home, the hunter will clean his catch and feed them the blood of his wife. The agreement with a Tuyul must be struck on a Friday night, on Kliwon day by the Javanese calendar. They prepare offerings like klobot cigarettes (made out of bamboo leaves), sour wedang (a drink made out of ginger), bitter coffee, sweet coffee, milk and seven types of cakes or biscuits.

A red candle should be lit to monitor the Tuyul's movement and safety. If the flame moves from side to side, it means the Tuyul is in danger. If the fire is still, the Tuyul is safe

2. Catch a Tuyul yourself

You can hunt a Tuyul yourself using the method above, but if you are not a hunter, you need to use the skin of a bobak frog, normally found around waterfalls or in cool environments. You have to butcher the frog using a specific method and then dry the skin out to use, while discarding the rest. The dried frog skin will then be used as the cover of a drum made with a coconut shell.

The coconut drum should be beaten with a fig branch following a specific rhythm tied to the spell in a place where many Tuyuls are believed to live. Then the Tuyul can be adopted as a child or a friend. 

3. Inherit a Tuyul 

Befriend someone who owns a Tuyul and when they die it can be passed on to you using a certain ritual. The process is usually conducted before the previous owner dies. They would need to perform the handover themselves.

You can recognize people who own a Tuyul, by the way he/she walks around, with their arms crossed or making a fist behind their back. It is thought that they hold onto the Tuyul while targeting their next house to rob, but of course ordinary people cannot see it. Owners also have a special room to make offerings to their Tuyul. 

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