Magic in the Malay World

loading

The difference between divination and the divine is a fine one.

South-East Asia is a region with strong beliefs in the spirit world, blending modern rationality and traditional knowledge. There is great reciprocity between the seen and the unseen – from spells to win back an errant lover to communing with the spirits, raising crops, curing illnesses and cursing enemies, magic is everyday practice for some of its polyglot inhabitants.

In Myanmar, during British colonial rule, magic practices were rather political: many Burmese used a “weizza”, a semi-immortal supernatural figure in Buddhism, to fight their oppressors. Most of these were however disbanded by the generals who seized power in 1962.

The Malay world constitutes southern South-East Asia. It is an expansive region that territorially stretches over what we know as Austronesia and extends to Easter Island in the east and Madagascar in the west.


To read the rest of the article and to access our e-Archive, subscribe to us for RM150 a year.



Related Articles

FEATURE
Sep 2014

No easy task to educate

When Alina Amir gets thrown into a classroom full of rowdy 13-year-olds, she finds that teaching can be a Herculean task.

FEATURE
Aug 2010

The serious brain drain problem

Penang's talent are leaving in droves. What's causing this exodus, and how can we fix it?

FEATURE
Dec 2011

Ideas and actions for a green state

The state government has been taking initiatives to transform Penang into a leader in environmental practices.