Behind The Myth: Who Are Orang Minyak And What Is Their Backstory?

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Cover image via Berita Harian & Warriors Of Myth Wiki

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Growing up in Malaysia means hearing lots of spooky stories about mythical creatures.

Among these, orang minyak stand out as some of the most feared beings, particularly among women.

According to Malay legend, orang minyak are creatures that abduct young women at night. The creature is supposedly able to climb walls and grab victims while evading capture due to their oily external coating.

Orang minyak, which translates to oily man, are often described as towering men covered in black oil or grease.

It is widely believed that all orang minyak are demonically transformed males, typically falling within the height and weight range of average adult males. Their eyes can vary in colour, ranging from yellow, gold, and red, to stark black.

Legend says they move about completely naked, which helps them blend into the darkness. If they do wear any clothing, it's usually just underwear or a loose-fitting loincloth.

Orang minyak also go by the names "hantu minyak" or "orang minyak hitam" in different parts of Malaysia.

The legend of the orang minyak also found its way into popular culture in 1958 when the acclaimed filmmaker P Ramlee directed a movie titled Sumpah Orang Minyak (The Curse of the Oily Man).

The film revolves around a character named Bongkok, a deformed hunchback, who is given a second chance at life. However, he ends up breaking the rules set by his benefactor and is subsequently transformed into a horrifying monster.

A still from P Ramlee's 1958 film, 'Sumpah Orang Minyak'.

Image via Malaysiakini

Orang minyak are also believed to possess a range of powers and abilities

The most prominent ability of the creature is their pitch black appearance, which allows them to blend into the darkness. Additionally, their oily exterior helps the creature easily slip away when caught in the act.

Moreover, legend has it that orang minyak possess hypnotic and mind-controlling abilities, which the creature uses to manipulate the minds of its victims and compel them to comply.

It is also believed that orang minyak remain invisible to any woman who is not a virgin, adding an extra layer of fear and mystery to its legend.

Some believe orang minyak were once humans who resorted to dark magic to win over their love interests, out of desperation and lust.

Others see them as real criminals hiding behind the cloak of folklore and superstition.

According to MythLok, some versions of the legend suggest that the orang minyak were once practitioners of dark magic, driven by a thirst for forbidden knowledge and power.

Consequently, the entities were cursed and morphed into the supernatural creatures that we know today.

In certain versions, it is also believed that men are transformed into orang minyak after raping 21 virgins in seven days, in exchange for a favour from a malevolent force, often said to be Satan.

Meanwhile, according to Yahoo News, criminals have exploited the fearsome legend by adopting disguises akin to orang minyak to prey on victims, particularly in women's dormitories or villages.

In 2011, a man was apprehended for posing as an orang minyak in Taman Pinggiran, Batu Caves, Gombak. The individual was suspected to be a practitioner of black magic.

Image via Mubi

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