Are you curious why Tuyul doesn't steal money from the bank? This is the explanation Entrepreneur – 4 hours ago


Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Tuyul is one of the most popular spirits in Indonesia. In films and soap operas, this creature is often depicted as a small, bald-headed child who likes to steal money.

The money collected was then given to the master who was carrying out a pesugihan ritual to seek wealth.

However, have you ever thought about why tuyul only steal from people's houses? Why didn't Tuyul just steal money from the bank, which was definitely more? Then, why doesn't tuyul steal your e-money balance? Is it because Tuyul doesn't understand technology?


Answers to these questions are often discussed on various internet forums. Some say tuyul are afraid of metal, which is the main material for making bank safes. There are also those who say that banks keep other spirits to guard their money.

Yes, all those answers do sound like myths. And tuyul was born from folklore. As a folklore, the 'birth' of tuyul is thought to have occurred at the same time as major socio-economic changes in Indonesian society in 1870.

At that time the Dutch colonial government had just implemented a policy of economic liberalization in Indonesia, which was previously called the Dutch East Indies. This liberal economic system was implemented as a replacement for the forced cultivation system.

Jan Luiten van Zanden and Daan Marks in Indonesian Economy 1800-2010 (2012), explains that economic liberalization then gave birth to a new colonial regime. People's plantations were taken over to be converted into large plantations and sugar factories. The lives of small farmers in Java are getting worse because they no longer have land to plant.

On the other hand, through this system a new social class emerged among indigenous and Chinese communities. This new social class was the merchants. Traders were one of the groups that benefited most from the opening up of the Dutch East Indies, so they emerged as new rich people.

The phenomenon of the emergence of new rich people through the trading business is difficult to understand for the peasants whose lives have become increasingly difficult due to economic liberalization. Historian Ong Hok Ham in the book The Lost Wahyu, A Shaken Country (2019) said that at that time farmers adhered to a subsistence system. This means that all their farming activities are only carried out to fulfill their daily lives.

Farmers do not understand the concept of accumulating wealth by traders. For farmers, work means hoeing and cultivating the fields. Meanwhile, trading businesses require relatively less physical work. This difference in the concept of work makes farmers wonder about the origins of the traders' wealth. The widening economic gap in society then also gave rise to social jealousy between the merchant and farmer classes.

George Quinn in An Excursion to Java's Get Rich Quck Tree (2009), said that farmers always think that wealth must be accounted for. So when rich people failed to explain the origins of their wealth, farmers accused the money of theft.

Socio-economic phenomena are then mixed with societal traditions that are steeped in mystical views. When farmers had difficulty finding answers about the origins of the wealth of the new rich, the answer was chosen that they collaborated with spirits to collect wealth. Tuyul is one of the spirits 'produced' to provide answers, as well as criticism from the poor regarding the economic inequality that occurs.

Ong Hok Ham in the book Questions from Priyayi to Nyi Blorong (2002) said that this belief in softness has succeeded in making entrepreneurs lose their social status in society. They are considered despicable because they amassed wealth through illicit means of allying themselves with Satan. In fact, this all happened as a result of changes in Dutch colonial policy which caused businessmen to be hit by the windfall.

Belief in the existence of tuyul does not only have an impact on social relations. Transactions of goods among the rich also changed. They tend to avoid purchasing assets in the form of land or houses, for fear of being discovered and accused of maintaining tuyul. Rich people at that time tended to hide their wealth by buying small valuables, such as gold.

Tuyul has succeeded in maintaining its existence because it is still trusted by some Indonesian people to this day. Starting from the tuyul myth, does the habit of rich Indonesians to 'hide' their wealth still persist?

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

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Why doesn't Tuyul steal money from the bank? Here's the explanation

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