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A toyol or tuyul is an undead infant in Indonesian and Malay folklore.[1][2] It appears in the mythology of Southeast Asia and is invoked as a helper by shamans (dukun or bomoh) by the means of black magic.[2][3] The creature is used to rob people of their riches,[2] which is similar in nature to Babi ngepet.


The toyol is known by different names across Southeast Asia.[2] The Malay word toyol is tuyul in Indonesian,[2][4] thuyul in Javanese, and kecit in Sundanese.[5] It is known as cohen kroh[6] in Khmer, and kwee kia[7] in Hokkien. In Thai, the male is called kumarn-thong.[2][8][9] A similar creature exists in Philippine mythology known as tiyanak.[2]


The toyol is traditionally described as looking no different from a near-naked toddler.[2][10] Modern depictions often give it a goblin-like appearance with green or grey skin, pointed ears, and clouded eyes.[11]

In popular culture[edit]


  • Malik Selamat directed a 1980 Malay horror film Toyol, starring Sidek Hussain and Mahmud June.
  • In Billy Chan's 1987 Hong Kong film Yang Gui Zi (roughly translated as "feeding a child spirit", also known by its English title Crazy Spirit), a jewelry store owner, wishing to have an heir, travels from Hong Kong to Thailand to obtain a spirit baby from a Taoist master, who seals it in an amulet. The amulet, on its way to Hong Hong, gets lost in transit and is found by a woman trying to conceive a child. She accidentally cuts her finger, causing her blood to drip on the amulet and releasing the child spirit.[12][13]
  • The 2011 Malaysian comedy film Alamak... Toyol! features a toyol as its plot device.[14]
  • In the 2013 Singapore horror film Ghost Child, a family is troubled by a toyol which arrives from Indonesia in an urn.
  • In the 2016 Indonesian horror film Tuyul: Part 1, a new family moves into an old house of the wife's mother after she died. The husband finds a bottle hidden mysteriously underneath the broken wooden floor, which is home to a creature that could endanger them.[15][16]


  • In season 1 of the HBO Asia Original horror anthology series Folklore, episode 5 is titled "Toyol (Malaysia)" and features a toyol.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Cunningham, Clark E.; Aragon, Lorraine V.; Russell, Susan Diana (1999). Structuralism's Transformations: Order and Revision in Indonesian and Malaysian Societies : Papers Written in Honor of Clark E. Cunningham. Arizona State University. p. 310. ISBN 9781881044215.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Laranjo, Ronel; Martinez-Erbite, Kristina; Santos, Zarina Joy (2013). "Intersection of Asian supernatural beings in Asian folk literature: A pan-Asian identity". Proceedings of the Asian Conference on Asian Studies 2013. Osaka, Japan: 20–22. doi:10.22492/2187-4735.20130102 (inactive 31 July 2022).{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of July 2022 (link)
  3. ^ Mayberry, Kate (15 Jun 2019). CultureShock! Malaysia. Malaysia: Marshall Cavendish International Asia Pte Ltd. ISBN 978-9814868020. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  4. ^ Khairunnisa, Aulia; Wardhaningsih, Mira. A Book of Indonesian Ghosts. StoryTale Studios. ISBN 6239476730. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  5. ^ Kasmana, Kankan; Sabana, Setiawan; Gunawan, Iwan; Aziz A, Hafiz (2018). "The Belief in the Existence of Supernatural Beings in the Community of Moslem Sundanese". Journal of Arts & Humanities. 7 (4): 11-21.
  6. ^ Day, David (17 Oct 2019). A Dictionary of Sources of Tolkien. Hachette UK. ISBN 978-0753734063. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  7. ^ Singapore Literature in English: An Annotated Bibliography. National Library Board Singapore and Centre for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University. 2008. p. 78. ISBN 978-9810700607. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  8. ^ McDaniel, Justin Thomas (1 Dec 2013). The Lovelorn Ghost and the Magical Monk: Practicing Buddhism in Modern Thailand. Columbia University Press. p. 172. ISBN 978-0231153775.
  9. ^ Sikora, Jack; Westin, Larry (2003). Batcats: The United States Air Force 553rd Reconnaissance Wing in Southeast Asia. iUniverse. p. 85. ISBN 0595300812.
  10. ^ Chua, Liana (2012). Southeast Asian Perspectives on Power. Routledge. p. 59. ISBN 9780415683456.
  11. ^ Estep, Richard (25 Jan 2016). The World's Most Haunted Hospitals. Red Wheel/Weiser. ISBN 978-1632659729. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  12. ^ "Yang gui zi". IMDB. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  13. ^ "Crazy Spirit Reviews". TV Guide. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  14. ^ "Alamak... Toyol!". IMDB. Retrieved 25 December 2021.
  15. ^ Siregar, Lisa (2016-03-04). "Indonesian Horror Movie 'Tuyul' Returns to Cinemas This Weekend". Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 2021-12-27.
  16. ^ "Winter Film Awards 2016 Winner - Best Horror Feature Film". Winter Film Awards. 2016. Retrieved 2021-12-27.
  17. ^ "Toyol (Malaysia)". IMDB. Retrieved 25 December 2021.