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A dukun is an Indonesian shaman and also traditional healer, curer, spirit medium, custom and tradition experts and on occasion sorcerers and masters of black magic.


Traditional Javanese beliefs

The dukun is the very epitome of the Kejawen or Kebatinan belief system indigenous to Java. Beneath the thin superficial practice of Islam, very strong and ancient beliefs of animism, ancestor worship, animal sacrifice and shamanism run through many Indonesians, particularly among Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese and Dayak communities.

Distribution in Indonesia

The Dukun remain highly respected and somewhat feared figures in Indonesian society, even in the most possessions.

Many highly prominent and highly educated Indonesians, even those with Western doctorate and masters levels degrees will still employ dukun or soothsayers. Indonesians who are known to have used dukun include former President Sukarno, former president Suharto, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, Sultan Hamengkubuwana IX and Sultan Hamengkubuwana X and many more.

Range of roles

Dukun have a number of titles and ascribed abilities - the dukun roles below are sometimes taken up by dukuns with specific titles and roles, rather than any one dukun utilizing all of the roles below.

Medicinal and curative

Dukun are known to have curative powers. They may use incantations, herbal medicine, animal parts, inanimate objects, keris or any combination to effect their curatives.


Dukun are believed to be able to communicate directly with malevolent and benevolent spirits. Spirits are said not to resist the dukun in their removal from their 'host', as they are enthralled that a living being can communicate with them.

Divination and Soothsaying

Dukun are most famous for prophetic visions. This is often the result of consulting spirits relating to one’s deceased family who often provide insight into what is likely to happen.

Charms and Blessings

Dukun will occasionally bless an individual or a business, to keep away termites or spirits or demons, or over a piece of land to ensure a good harvest.

Spiritual Communications

Dukun are alleged to see normally invisible spirits and communicate as easily as though the spirit were physically present. Many spirits are supposed to speak archaic Javanese or Sundanese and the Dukun may be able to speak these languages during momentary spiritual possessions, despite not having prior knowledge of these languages.


Dukuns are generally benevolent shamans. On occasion, some practitioners of black or dark magicks may be employed to cast revenge hexes and incantations often for trivial matters.

Some known incantations include:

Djengges: where a half circle of food offerings, including opium and incense and weapons in the form of nails, glass and needles. The dukun then chants a spell and actually asks spirits to embed the items in the victim’s stomach.

Gendam : A dukun will incant the target's name so that a spell is thrown, where the target cannot rest until they are cured by another dukun. This ritual involves the dukun chanting the name of the person he wants to summon.

Naruga: The dukun implants an emotional suggestion in the victim. It may be benevolent such as a love spell, or malevolent- causing the target to murder someone else.

Santet: Slightly humorous—the dukun causes the target to have chronic diarrhea.

Sirep: The dukun causes people to fall under a deep, unshakable slumber.

Tenung: This ritual involves creating a half circle of food offerings, including opium and incense, while chanting for the destruction of the victim. The target suffers headaches, vomiting and illness until remedied by another dukun.

Susuk: The dukun implants a metal needle in the patient body (mostly woman). This needle must be chanted first. The dukun will use a spirit to implants the needle without wound. This needle will make the patient to be more sexually attractive in the eyes of men.

See also


  • The Religion of Java. Clifford Geertz. University of Chicago Press 1976. ISBN 0226285103
  • Understanding Witchcraft and Sorcery in Southeast Asia. C. W. Watson, R. F. Ellen.University of Hawaii Press, 1993. ISBN 0824815157
  • Modern Trends in Islamic Theological Discourse in 20th Century Indonesia. Fauzan Saleh. BRILL, 2001. ISBN 9004112510
  • Islam: Essays on Scripture, Thought, and Society : a Festschrift in Honour. By Peter G. Riddell, Tony Street, Anthony Hearle Johns Contributor Peter G Riddell, Ph.D., Peter G. Riddell. BRILL, 1997. ISBN 9004098186
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