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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

ORANG BUNIAN

The Orang Bunian are found in the folklore of Malaysia.  They are supposed to look like humans, though modern depictions tend to be somewhat influenced by western fantasy art.  They sometimes lack the groove in the upper lip found among humans (philtrum) - this does not seem to be a modern development.

The world of the Bunian is parallel to our own.  According to folklore, humans have sometimes gone to live in this and married Bunians, but on returning to the human world, find a long space of time has passed.  This equates to the long space of time that has passed when humans in western culture return from Faerie.  However, the long passage of time is not a universal factor in such stories.

There is an excellent article on bunians by Ahmad Jamaludin in Fortean Studies 7.  He tells us, inter alia, of two persons who believed they were brought into the world of the bunians in modern times.

The first was Wak Jarman,  a young man in his twenties who lived in Selangor.  The incident occurred between 1945 and 1957.   A little old man with a wide face turned up and led him into the woods.  They came to a village not normally there and Ismail concluded he had entered another world.

He described the people there as indistinguishable from Malays and speaking the Malay language.  There were no cars on the streets.  They kept mouse-deer in captivity and large tigers were wandering about, though they didn't seem aggressive.  He declined food.  He said the village headman was called Mijo.  He also said there was a mosque there.  This is curious - were the bunian Muslim or was it some kind of fane that he identified with a mosque?  He was sent home.

The second case was that of Azmi Hamid (24), popularly known as Ismail, who lived in Kedah.  He went into a river to bathe and seems to have been reduced to a semi-conscious state, losing his vision.  He then found he was in a beautiful village, in a palatial building.  The place was populated almost entirely by women - he saw only 4-5 men.  The food he was given was delicious.  At last he asked to go home and the women permitted this.  Two of them accompanied him along a green path.  It started to rain.  A man emerged from a beautiful house and invited them inside.  On the way in, he knocked his head and was renedered unconscious.  He came to in a cattle shed in his own world.

These two episodes have a certain amount of detail, but also raise a number of questions.  Logically, there is no reason why there should not be other dimensions and other inhabitants, but would they really speak the same language as the humans they abducted and live in a society that seems to mirror the one from which the humans come?  They also seem to be racially the same as the person who crosses into their dimension.

Visits to the land of bunians only happens to Malays, not to other racial groups.  Is there something in Malay DNA which triggers bunian hallucinations?  If so, why are such persons not found wandering about by those searching for them?  People claiming to have been to the realm of bunians afterwards vomit grass and worms, which indicates this was what they had recently eaten, pointing towards hallucination.  Those who visit the bunions only come from villages, the experience does not befall city dwellers.  Those who have undergone this experience show no signs of mental illness.

There were a number of reported bunian encounters in 1982, but at present I do not have details.

I am inclined to see at least some bunian encounters as being hallucinatory with cultural influences.  It is not impossible, however, that persons taken to the bunian realm had their memories distorted, so that things they failed to understand were made comprehensible.  Perhaps the bunians did not really look like Malays but were so different that their visitor's memory clothed them in such a guise.  Perhaps the visitors really ate worms and grass, but their memory, unable to understand why they would so such a thing, turned their fare into something more palatable.  The memories may have been doctored by the bunians themselves, but equally there might be something in the human brain which changes memories to make the brain able to deal with what they contain.

Anyway, any Malay readers of this or, indeed, anyone who has further light to cast on the matter of bunians, is welcome to contact this website.


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