Two tales of koklir you probably never heard of

If we were to name one female ghost you should never mess with, the Iban folktale figure koklir is somewhere on top of our list.

Other ghosts such as pontianak or balan-balan are tame compared to the koklir, because they are known to kill men by taking their testicles.

What an unexpected way to die right?

According to Iban ethnologist Benedict Sandin, during ancient times it was alleged that many places around Kapuas river delta and especially the Pontianak river took their names from the koklir.

So where did this ghost come from?

It is believed that every unfortunate woman who dies during childbirth is converted into a koklir.

However, there is a way to prevent it from happening, which is by pricking the soles of the deceased’s feet with thorns of a citrus tree.

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A koklir might be hiding behind a tree waiting for her next victim. Credits: Pixabay
While there are plenty of stories of how koklir roam around looking for victims, here are two tales of this ghost you probably haven’t heard:
1.The widower and his only son

Long, long ago, there was a widower who lived in a farm hut with his only son.

One evening right before sunset, they went out in their boat to fish up the river.

All of a sudden, it started to rain. The father and son gave up fishing, coming ashore to take shelter in one of the huts they spotted from the river.

When they arrived at the hut, they found it was occupied by two lovely women. The women invited them in and lit a fire to keep them warm.

The women then prepared food for their guests. After they finished their meal, the widower continued to warm himself while his son sat naked near him.

At the sight of the boy’s testicles, one of the women said, “Hai wai wai! It’s the sweet stuff!”

Slowly, her nails appeared to grow sharper and longer. That moment, the father realised that the women were in fact koklir ghosts.

Without wasting a second, the father dragged his son out and they began to run for their lives. The koklir ghosts instantly started to chase them.

When the father arrived at their boat, he overturned it so that they could hide underneath it.

As the ghosts could not go into water, they jumped on top of the boat, boring through it with their sharp nails.

When the boat was about to be ripped open by their sharp nails, the sun began to rise and the koklir ghosts disappeared.

Despite the cold and shock, the widower and his son were grateful that they managed to make their escape.

2.The koklir and the enturun

There was once a newly married man and his wife who went to pay a traditional matrimonial visit to the bride’s house in a tradition called nyundang pinang.

In the middle of the journey, they were surprised by the sound of a koklir ghost. Terrified for their safety, they ran as fast as they could.

Since the man was the target, he climbed a tree to save himself while his wife sat down at the foot of the tree.

As she sat there, a young woman came to her and they started to chat.

While talking, the wife asked the woman if she could pick the lice from her hair.

After the woman agreed, the wife immediately start to pick the lice from the her hair.

While the woman was thus distracted, the husband climbed back down the tree and cut off her head.

It was a clean cut and she died instantly. Then the couple realised she was the “enturun”, a mystical creature that was said to be half bear and half cat.

Legend has it that to this day, koklir still lurk in the shadows at night looking for men’s testicles.

Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight.

She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science.

She is currently obsessed with silent vlogs during this Covid-19 pandemic.

Due to her obsession, she started her Youtube channel of slient vlogs.

Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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