A Toyol or Tuyul is a small child spirit invoked by a bomoh (shaman) in the Malay mythology of South-East Asia (notably Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore).
Some say that toyol has its origins from Mecca near the Kaaba (the belief refers to the Pre-Islamic Era where the Arabs used to kill their children and bury them all around Mecca. The Chinese (Cantonese) name for the toyol is guai zai (literally "ghost child"). The corresponding term in the Hokkien dialect is kwee kia with "kwee" meaning "ghost" and "kia" meaning "child".
People normally associate the appearance of a toyol with that of a small baby, frequently that of a newly born baby walking in nakedness with a big head, small hands, clouded eyes and usually greyed skin. More accurately, it resembles a goblin. It can be seen by the naked eye without the use of magic, though they are unlikely to be spotted casually.
The toyol is created from a dead human foetus using black magic. It is possible to buy a toyol from a bomoh and become his new master. The master of the toyol must keeps its tablet or amulet and cares for it. He must feed it with a few drops of his blood everyday, usually through his thumb or big toe. In addition, it requires certain coaxing and attention, along with offerings. Such offerings might include candy and toys, for the toyol is essentially a child and must be kept happily entertained. According to other stories, a toyol must be fed with blood from a rooster.
Powers and uses
A person who owns a toyol uses it mainly to steal things from other people, or to do mischief. According to a well-known superstition, if money or jewellery keeps disappearing mysteriously from your house, a toyol might be responsible. One way to ward off a toyol is to place some needles under your money, for toyols are afraid of being hurt by needles. In old village tales, people keep toyols for selfish but petty gains. They use such spirits for theft, sabotage and other minor crimes. Serious crimes, like murder, are usually beyond the capability of these toyols. A person who suddenly becomes wealthy without explanation might be suspected of keeping a toyol. The toyol is kept in a jar or an urn, and hidden away in a dark place until needed.
What happens at the end of the "contract" is not very clear. It could be that the tablet, along with the urn, is buried in a graveyard (with the relevant rituals), and the spirit is then laid to rest. An alternative method is to dispose them in the sea. Or else, a toyol gets passed down in a family through the generations. This seems to suggest that once you obtain a toyol, not only are you stuck with it for the rest of your life, but all your descendants will also be condemned to own it.
Although seemingly cunning, toyols are supposedly not very intelligent. It is said that they are easily deceived by marbles and sand and strands of garlic hanging on the door post or placed on certain parts of the house. The toyol will start playing with these items until it forgets its task at the intended victim's house. Money placed under mirrors has the potentcy to ward off toyols due to a phobia of their reflections.