The whole thing was more or less like a modern Aladdin’s lamp with a red-eyed genie spotted through the transparent glass bottle.
Not sure of what it was, and perhaps feeling a little unsettled by the sight of the eerie red-eyed figure dressed in black, he gave it to a bomoh [Malay shaman].
For unknown but undoubtedly wise reasons, the bomoh in turn passed it on to the Pekan museum, who, according to its director, “conducted a simple study on the object” - maybe just taking one quick look without touching or opening the bottle.
And I don't blame the museum people - we Malaysians don't like red-eyed dolls dressed in ominous coloured clothing, especially when they come in bottles picked up from the seas. Mind you, I do love a cup or two of Nescafé.
The museum confirmed what the bomoh and the fisherman already knew, that it was a puppet inside the bottle. I am not sure whether the museum staff had been apprehensive over the weird looking voodoo doll, but the bottle was expeditiously returned to the bomoh.
Undoubtedly the museum staff believed that with such occult stuff one sought to "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s". Wakakaka.
Lay people like us don't want to mess around with occult stuff that should be under the guardianship of someone who is more familiar with the supernatural.
The museum director added: “We believe it had been used by someone for some healing ritual and it was thrown into the sea maybe because the owner wanted to get rid of it.”
By then, the bomoh decided that the bottle contained a toyol and threw it back into the sea.
A toyol is, according to S.E Asian belief, a supernatural creature brought to life from a dead/aborted baby foetus by occult means. The owner, its creator or purchaser - it's possible to purchase a toyol from a witch doctor - maintains the creature's allegiance by feeding it with his/her own blood, just a few drops taken from a pricked finger or toe.
The toyol can be used to conduct spying, stealing or spooking (harassing) missions for the owner. I wonder if it can do more.
But some say that a person who keeps such a creature of the Dark would be stuck with the toyol for life, a kind of damnation. Before the owner's own demise, it's vital that he or she pass the creature to a new owner to maintain regular feeding.
If the handover is not successfully completed before the owner croaks, the toyol will turn against the owner to feed on him/her. Apparently being eaten up on one's death bed is not a pretty sight or pleasant at all, and very distracting for the dying owner. Thus the dying would take a long long long and very excruciatingly painful time.