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Fireside Chats: The Pocong

I reported last week on the creative ways government officials and college students teaming up in Indonesia are trying to keep people indoors during this quarantine period: by dressing up as revenants, known as Pocong, to scare people into staying home. Initially this backfired, as people were going out at night specifically to see the Pocong.

A Pocong is also known as a “shroud ghost.” It is the soul of a person trapped in his or her burial shroud. This might, then, be more akin to the way we here in the Western world think of vampires or zombies than ghosts. To our way of thinking, ghosts aren’t typically “bound” in any type of garment. The shrouds are part of the traditional Muslim means of burying the dead in that part of the world. According to Indonesian folklore, the souls of the dead remain on earth for 40 days after expiration. After this period of time the shrouds must be loosened, else the soul become trapped, and perhaps a tad pissy about it. They might rise from the grave to chase people, but because their legs are bound together by the shroud they can only hop in pursuit.

I remember one of the zombies in THE DEAD—which may be the greatest zombie movie ever made, save for the initial Romero trilogy and Fulci’s ZOMBIE, tied with TRAIN TO BUSAN and 28 DAYS LATER at the pinnacle of the modern zombie movie—appearing wrapped up in just such a manner. Mondo creepy. Although if the zombie had started hopping, it might have spoiled the effect.

TheCheezman • May 25, 2020

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