Indonesia banget # 26: Supernatural Beings to Make You Rich -Tuyul and Babi Ngepet

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As I have said last year, although Halloween is not an Indonesian tradition and those who are now celebrating are people who had been influenced by the western world…but in the spirit of Halloween all over the world, I like to share a bit of Indonesian ghosts.

Last year, I introduced the most famous ghost in Indonesia, Kuntilanak. I do believe she is exist…you might think it’s ridiculous but can’t help it not to believe her existence.

Kuntilanak is a woman dressed in long white dress. She has really long hair. She often stays in tree and sometimes wondering here and there. From the description I give you, if you have seen Ringu (not the American version, The Ring), Sadako reminds me so much of her…and that’s why I was freaking out the first time I saw that movie. She has this special cry that can chill anyone who heard it. What’s so special about her cry is that if you heard her cry so close to you that means she was far away from you, however if you heard  it as if it came from so far that means she was so close to you.

continue reading about Kuntilanak.

What I am about to share next is something I myself don’t believe…but the story has grown so big that sharing it feels like a must. What I wrote here is 100% based on my memory of what people said to me, I didn’t do any comparison with other site in the net because the this kind of story tends to changed from mouth to mouth.

Here in Indonesia, some people who are too lazy to work or at least want to get money as much and as fast as possible, they tend to go to the other side. I will tell you about Tuyul and Babi Ngepet.


Tuyul is a spirit that can steal money and give it to his owner. Tuyul is small like a baby, wear white underpants and has bald head. Some said that he is very small but others said he is as big as small boy. I am going to lean more to him being so small.

From the stories I have heard, a person who wants to own a Tuyul should go to a shaman who raises Tuyul. The person buys the Tuyul from the shaman and brings him home. Tuyul is carried on his/her hand or on his/her shoulder. They said that if a person is cupping his/her hands on his/her back as if something is sitting on his/her hands…then that person might carry a Tuyul.

The owner will ask his/her Tuyul to steal money from someone’s house. Being a creature from another world makes it easy for him to walk pass through the walls and takes the money and brings it back to his master. The victim will never realize such robbery takes place till the next morning when he checks his money. The owner can ask Tuyul to take as much money as he wants. Usually the owner will wait near the victim’s house.

However, Tuyul doesn’t work for free. He has to be breastfeed by either the owner’s wife (if the owner is a man) or the owner herself (if the owner is a woman). Tuyul doesn’t suck in the milk, he sucks in the blood of the woman.

Belongs to

Babi Ngepet

Babi Ngepet is another supernatural way to steal money from other people. Just like getting a Tuyul, to be a babi ngepet a person must come to a shaman. The person is mostly man. After making agreement with another world, the man can turn into a pig (babi means pig)…not that pinkish pig but black hairy pig. The man turns into a pig in the middle of the night and scrubs his body on the outer wall of his victim’s house. The money from that house soon disappears and transfers to his house.

Being a babi ngepet is far riskier than owning a Tuyul because people might get suspicious of a pig on the loose. When people find out that there is a babi ngepet on action, they will try to catch it. The man usually works together with his wife. The wife will wait while looking at a candle. If the candle stars dancing violently, it means that her husband is in danger (such as being cashed by people). The wife has to blow the candle. When the fire is extinguished, the man will turns back from pig back to a man in his house. That is the only way to safe her husband from being caught by people. However, if somehow the wife falls asleep and doesn’t blow the candle, the man will sure be caught and if the people who chase him kill him, he will turn back to human.

2 interesting stories, aren’t they?

Do you believe it? Although it is a common myth in Indonesia and many, mostly villagers, believe in such stories…I myself finds it difficult to believe. When someone told me that his money suddenly disappears and there might me Tuyul near his house, I often said “really?

I do believe in ghost but I never believe in ghost that can bring fortune for certain people.

What do you think? Can you believe these myths?


  1. Ahah, this post takes me back Nov, there are so many silly superstitions in Indo. No I don’t believe in any of it. Yes I do believe evil spirits exist in this world, but no, there’s no such thing as ghosts that bring people fortune, the devil certainly never have people’s best interest in mind.

    1. Fun superstition, isn’t it Ruth 😉

      Me too…I believe in the existance of both devil and ghost. The devil tries to get us doing things to break religion’s rules while ghost is another being living side by side with us…but there’s no such thing to gain easy money from those beings.

  2. It is really neat to hear more of your Indonesian folklore stories, Novia!! 🙂
    I have seen some movies with the Toyol, it reminds me of Chinese “baby ghosts” that make families rich if they control one…. Brrrrrr!! So creepy!

    I had never heard of the Babi Ngepet… that story is so different and strange. Like changing bodies to become a ghost. We don’t have many stories about “stealer” ghosts here in the West…. usually in our stories and legends if bad people want to get money they make bargains with Devils or Demons to be given gold or wealth that they pay for in some nefarious way later… but it always ends badly for them.

    1. That Chinese baby ghost probably has the same origin as tuyul, being Asian sometimes has similar stories. There was old Indonesian movie about Tuyul if you can find it.

      I also think babi ngepet is an interesting story, making people change to animal…but it is far too difficult to believe. There was an old Indonesian movie about babi ngepet played by Muni Cader, it’s avaiable in youtube but unfortunately there’s no subtitle. Many people, even in this modern age, still believe that babi ngepet does exist.

      Making a deal with the devil also exist here, the people who made the deal have to give tumbal or sacrife to the devil every year.

      We have so many supernatural stories here.

  3. Really interesting but like you, I would believe in Kuntilanak but not in these two but it’s interesting to read about them.
    I cannot remember. in general, do people belive in ghosts, as in ghost of the deceased to be still around and haunted houses and such things?

    1. Interesting but too much like a fantasy isn’t it?

      Indonesian do believe in ghost of the deceased. There was a huge earth quake a couple of years ago in Padang and it was said that a lot of people died when a market collapsed during the quake…and till this day, people around that market often heard voices of people screaming in pain. The market is never been rebuilt till this day but voices can be heard every night.

  4. HE HE that piggy is so cute 🙂
    We don’t have ghosts in our tradition but we have tones of fairies, witches and creatures similar to the ones from LORD OF THE RINGS 🙂

      1. there are evil fairies as well 🙂 We have witches and dragons and such things… but we’re not a nation which focuses on lore so it’s mostly forgotten and mentioned only in small villages or in ancient books.

  5. Those were very interesting stories, Novroz. They sound similar to the types of myths or beliefs that were poplar in the past. But I guess everyone has to decide for themselves whether or not to believe such things.

    1. Agree! Many do believe it and some don’t, I am in those some but I will not discredit people who believe it because we can’t proof that it’s not true.

  6. What fascinates me about myths is why they start and what they reveal about a culture. I’m not sure I believe, but I won’t say I don’t either.

    1. Hmmm… what do you think it reveals about my country? I wonder 😉

      It’s hard to believe, for me, but I won’t discredit anyone who believes it.

  7. well, whether they are really exist or not, but the point is if people wish to be rich fast (without need to sweat and teary for years) then this is the fastest way. But it is not without a price. I think people forgot about the moral of the stories (about baby ngepet, Nyi Roro Kidul, etc). There is nothing free in this life.

  8. I believe that these are important elements of Indonesian folklore, not that they are real. They probably developed over the years into the creatures that they are now. I agree with Ria, there seems to be a moral lesson to them both. And that is what’s most important 🙂
    Thanks for sharing, Novia! (And the Kuntilanak reminds me of The Ring too!!)

    1. Unfortunately…these two are not just a folklore that people tell in stories…a lot of people truly believe in their existence. True folklore are the one I shared once in this Indonesia Banget special, about a man who denied his mom and then turned into stone. This Tuyul and babi Ngepet are something so real to some people.

      Hehe that’s why Ringu is so scary for me 😉

      Thank you for reading Tze Wen 🙂

  9. Tuyul and Babi Ngepet are not the only Indonesia’s mystic way of “money harvester”.

    I know a man, living in the same town, who is very rich. Years ago, he used to ride a bicycle around selling bricks in a basket, now, he is one of the richest in my town.
    He’s an uneducated and eccentric man. His strange behavior and his (some say; overnight) fortunes drew a rumor that he made a pact with dark spirit.
    He owned expensive cars but never wash them and he forbid anyone to do so. So his car always look like they’re coming out from the jungle with mud and dust everywhere.
    One day, his new driver decided to wash the car. When he was washing, he heard a strange noise from under the car, something sound like a weird cat, squealing, and scratching the metal. Just when he bent down to check, a big black shadow flew through him, he was pushed and fell on his back. He looked around but there’s no one else but him in the garage. Shocked and terrified, he told what was happen to the boss’s wife. She explained that it was a warning. The driver was too scared to have another day in office, he quit the next day.
    People say it’s a cat demon spirit since cat doesn’t like water/getting wet.

    Not saying I’m believing it. It just what I heard from people talking.

    Oh.. and, other than using spirits, another popular way is the using of “talisman/charm” or “jimat penglaris”, usually in a form of Keris. You can easily find the advertisement in mystery magazines. Lol. 😀

    They are dumb and lazy way to make money, irrational even, but some people do put their faith on it.

    1. They are not the only one…but it’s impossible to write them all in one post 😉 even two is already too much.

      Thank you for the additional story 🙂
      Indonesian sure believe in many superstitious things…we can’t deny that fact.

      AGREE!!! they are very lazy 🙂

      1. My apology, but I think it’s not appropriate to easily judge people as lazy.
        If we fairly observe in Indonesia, the gap between the rich and the poor is too large. Of course one should never choose the easy “illegal”/”immoral” method to gain wealth, but I think I can understand why some people will be tempted.
        Because the poor can see how the rich live, but even if they work until they broke their back, they won’t even reach anything close to it.
        For some families, not even their children and their grand children had a good chance to break free from poverty.

        1. Hi Handoko, thank you for sharing your opinion…but my opinion stands as it is, they are lazy people. I have more respect toward people who sell kerupuk and gain only as much 10.000 a day but still grateful rather than those people..for whatever reasons they have.

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