This ancient game is part of the country's mystical heritage.

  18 Agustus 2016 12:37 - Jelangkung, also called Jailangkung, is an Indonesian game used to communicate with spirits that's more than 1,500 years old.

The game works like this: You draw a circle on a piece of paper, about 20 centimeters in diameter, the write the letters of the alphabet along the rim. You then hold the pen or pencil with the point in the center of the circle. At least two people hold the writing instrument at one time (you can't play this game alone) while another recites theincantation. The specific mantra differs from region to region, but usually goes something like this:

"Jelangkung, Jelangsat, di sini ada pesta, pesta kecil-kecilan. Jelangkung, Jelangsat, datang tak diundang, pulang tak diantar."

In English:

Jelangkung jelangsat, we have a party here, a small party. Jelangkung jelangsat, come uninvited, go undelivered.

Once you feel the spirit arrive, you ask your question and wait for it to move the pen around the letters to spell out an answer.

Traditionally the game was played with a doll made from a coconut shell water dipper and a wooden handle, dressed in human clothes and with a key pendant hung around its neck. At least two people hold the doll while the writing instrumentis tied to its hands. The spirit would then occupy the doll.

That doll was called a Jelangkung.

Here is a video of the game:

Those are all just the basics!


Jelangkung was first mentioned in an ancient manuscript from the fifth century, which explains exactly the same rules forplaying that are used todayin Indonesia.

It can be played anywhere but it is mostpopular inhaunted places and around sunset. In the past, people would play on the night of a full moon.

Once the spirit arrived, it would introduce itself and start telling stories.

People would ask questions, such as the name of the spirit, when or how did it died and sometimes about the future or lucky number in gambling.


The name Jelangkung comesfrom anoldChinese belief of the Gods Poyang and Moyang (similarly pronounced with Indonesian term nenek moyang, which means the ancestors), Cay Lan Gong (literally translated as God of the Vegetable Basket) and Cay Lan Tse (God Protector of the Kids). The game was played by children on theMoon, or Mid-Autumn, festival.

They called on the Gods Poyang and Moyang toenter avegetable basket doll (used before the water dipper). In the dolls hand a writing implement, usually chalk, would be inserted. On its neck was hunga necklace with a key pendant. The childrenwould light incense andrecite the mantra and when the doll got heavier they knew the spirit had arrived.The doll would nod if itagreed to be questioned and would spell out its answer on a chalkboard.

Beforeadoll was used, Jelangkung was calledFu Ji, and was played witha tree branch shaped like a Y. On person would hold each end of the fork other end would write the answer in sand.

The tradition is closely related to Taoism, in which prophesies are part of daily life.


There are plenty of variations of this game!

Cay Lan Gongmighthave disappearedin China, but the tradition was adapted, passed on and spread wide all over Indonesia. In Java, it isknown as Nini Thowong or Nini Thowok.

Itsritual is used by adults as well as kids to help protect their village from bad spirits. They would use a compass (as in the geometry tool) and a scarecrow.

In West Sumatra, the Minangkabau peopleplayLukah Gilo as a form of public entertainment. A shaman called Dukun Lukahdirects the ritual as a play and up to four persons have to hold the doll, which is referred to asLukah Gilo. Lukah is a tool used to capture river fish made out of plaited bamboo andshaped like a vase, and refers to the holders. Gilo means crazy. Abasket is used asthe doll, with wooden or bamboo hands and a pumpkin or coconut shell head.It is dressed up like a woman.

The dukun recites the mantra overthe lukah and it starts to move erraticly. The more the incantation is repeated, the wilder its movements become. As the holders are forced to catch up with its movements, then enter a trance-like state and the crowd cheers them on. It stops moving if the dukun stopschanting.

Lukah Gilo is played on special occasions and usually at night, when it is thought to be easier to summon spirits.


There have beenmany cases in recent years whereplayers have been allegedly possessed by the spirits they summoned.

The game should always end by dismissing or freeing the spirit from the doll.

If it is left trapped inside, trouble is in store for those who called it!



Up Next: Wewe Gombel: Demon That Keeps Kids From Going Out At Night