Step into the bizarre world of sideshow wonders and mysterious creations! Often, these displays were promoted with beautifully painted banners that stirred curiosity. Personally, I never had an interest in human oddities. Instead my focus has been on created gaffs – ingeniously crafted fakes made from natural materials, convincingly portrayed as real. Among the most famous of these gaffs is the feejee mermaid, skillfully combining a monkey’s torso with a fish’s body.
In this series, my aim is to introduce you to some of the greatest gaffs and enigmas that sideshows had to offer, all without an extra 25-cent fee. Let’s begin our tour with a weird little creature I recently discovered – the Jenglot!
The Jenglot hails from Indonesia, a mysterious mummified being with a mysterious history. Not much was known about them before 1997. Since then, they become somewhat of a phenomenon, creating debates about their authenticity. Measuring around 8 inches in length, these humanoid-shaped creatures have long black hair, elongated fingernails, and fangs. Their shriveled bodies resemble small mummies or vampiric voodoo dolls. Legend has it that they vanish instantly if submerged in water.
According to the tale, Jenglot are the remains of individuals whose bodies were rejected by the earth after burial, leading to their diminutive size. They are rumored to possess supernatural abilities and must be fed with blood, either from animals or humans, to avoid dire consequences for their owners. In return, the Jenglot supposedly grants immunity to illness and misfortune.
To nourish the Jenglot, a single drop of blood suffices. It doesn’t have to be fed directly into its mouth. Placing the blood in a small container near the creature allows it to absorb the nutrients in its own peculiar way. Some believe that the Jenglot comes to life when left alone to feed.
These mysterious beings are said to be discovered, not manufactured, through mystical ceremonies performed by native psychics or shamans. Jenglot are found in peculiar locations like tree trunks or even underground. Their discoverers would often exhibit them, similar to the sideshows of the past.
Researchers have examined Jenglot, with Dr. Budi Sampurna describing one he studied as resembling a creepy doll, about 10.65 cm long, and proportionate to a human, except for its long claws and canine teeth. Although tests were inconclusive, some experts believe the Jenglot could be a primate species due to their human-like characteristics.
The question of whether Jenglot are truly alive remains shrouded in mystery. Scientific examinations raise doubts as they lack vital organs like lungs and a heart. However, shamans maintain that the Jenglot possesses potent supernatural powers and is indeed alive. Reports of more Jenglot appearances, particularly on the island of Java, continue to surface, with claims that their fingernails, toenails, and hair keep growing, supporting the belief in their living nature.
So, are Jenglot real? Well, I happen to own one myself (the attached pictures are of my Jenglot). As for their true nature, that remains a subject of speculation. Further research and testing are needed to arrive at definitive conclusions. Unfortunately, many Jenglot owners are reluctant to subject their specimens to scientific scrutiny. Nonetheless, possessing a Jenglot serves as a fascinating keepsake and adds to the allure of this captivating tale.
Be sure to explore my other posts in the CABINET OF CURIOSITIES series!