Racun Tradisional Melayu
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Acrochordus javanicus (Elephant's Trunk Snake)
The poisonous substances used to make 'santau' can be from animal origin (toxins of snakes, centipedes, jelly-fishes, toads), including that of insects like caterpillers, cockroaches, and spiders. Sometime cat's placenta, bat's eyes or even that of owls and woodpeckers are used. Mating kingcrabs have also been used in the concoction. These can also be mixed with substances from toxic plants (for example 'getah ipoh' - Strychnos ovalifolia, 'kacang hantu'), including 'toxic' parts of bamboos and sugar-canes. Other innate objects like glass, silk threads, iron brushes, nails of human or animals, bones of animals and materials from dead woods, soil and earth have also been found in some concoctions. All or some of these are ground together and concocted into a compact preparation called 'santau'.
The concoction is used to poison others by either introducing it in foods and drinks or applied to clothings, chairs or one's resting place. Some of the concoctions can result in immediate effects while others would depend on the intake of other 'precursors' such as vinegar, lime juice, goat meat and the like. This latter mode of poisoning is rather unsuspecting making it difficult to 'diagnose' and treat.
Prior to its use, the concoction is usually kept for several days so that they are thoroughly 'fermented' and become even more deadly. A period of 40 days is normally observed. A less poisonous santau is kept for a shorter time period. This process is usually carried outside of the house, as a precaution against any untoward incidence from happening in home arising due to its highly toxic nature. It is then left buried in the ground for example under banana trees.
Apart from the variety of poisonous substances used, santau is generally of two types based on whether there is an involvement of any spiritual elements, or otherwise, especially in the process of concocting it. 'Santau angin' is one of the type, so-called because it can be delivered to the victims via the blowing wind, presumably with the help of the 'evil spirits' (akin to the use of 'black magic').
The effects of santau range from coughs, itches and rashes, sore throat and hematemesis (vomiting of blood) to the involvement of psychological symptoms - insomnia, depression and psychosis, and even bizzare behavioural changes, especially if 'santau angin' is allegedly used. Over the years, the victim's physiques worsened and the memory may also deteriorate. The overall health will be severely affected and the final consequence can be fatal.
Source: Amran Kasimin (1995)