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Malay Folklore ‘Susuk’: The Quest For Beauty At Sinister Costs

today30 June 2021


Imagine sticking needles into your body (and your face) in the name of beauty.

Unlike acupuncture, a form of treatment that involves inserting very thin needles through a person’s skin to relieve pain, ‘susuk’ is a different practice altogether. Involving supernatural elements, once inserted, ‘susuk’ can only be taken out by a traditional practitioner. Otherwise,  the ‘susuk’ will remain embedded in the person’s body…and it’s believed that they will face dire consequences for it: when death comes for them, it will be a very long and painful ordeal.

Twitter @ceritasisikanan


There are many kinds of ‘susuk’ — golden, silver, diamond, steel, and needle. Among the oddities that a person with ‘susuk’ in their bodies are forbidden from include eating a certain type of banana, or walking under a steel clothesline. There are also rituals that they must adhere to, such as worshipping a ‘djinn’. Failure to do these tasks will result in not only the loss of their ‘beauty’ but also becoming disfigured. Some even lose their minds.



Based on a Twitter thread by Nurul Scha, she tells the story of an entertainer nicknamed Nur who wore ‘susuk’ in every inch of her body. Men fell at her feet like petals, begging her to marry them. Nur fell for one of them and agreed to be his wife.


He requested her to remove all the ‘susuk’ in her body (about 100 of them). Apparently, all of the ‘susuk’ came from animal blood and each time a ‘susuk’ is removed, she will get possessed and take the form of the animal. The removal process took one entire month and Nur swore to never touch ‘susuk’ ever again.



Please remember that we are all beautiful in our own ways. It’s not worth it to resort to such extreme measures to appear physically attractive. It’s clichéd but really, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.


*Cover image via

Written by: Farah Qistina

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