Objects like gold needles, diamond particles, mercury, or plant-based ingredients are implanted under the skin. An X-ray showing susuk in a person’s face;

Heavy make-up? Plastic surgery? Home remedies? Well, there’s an alternative to looking beautiful and alluring for the opposite sex. That is the art of susuk, or implanting foreign objects like gold needles, diamond particles, mercury, or plant-based ingredients (fruits, betel leaves, turmeric, pepper, shallots, etc.) under your skin. It is a popular black magic path to beauty in South East Asia countries. Does it work?

Nina (not her real name), 27, was an entrepreneur. Business had been slow so Nina sought the help of the paranormal practitioner, Mas Ayu, 34, to give her an alluring aura to attract more customers to her restaurant. The ritual began with a floral bath to get rid of bad karma. Nina, clad only in a sarong, was then bathed by Mas who chanted monotonously. Later, Nina got dressed and sat opposite Mas. She was instructed to read Quranic verses while a rose was rubbed clockwise on her face until the petals fell off. Then Mas announced that the diamonds had been embedded in her face. Nina said her face felt itchy and she could feel something moving in her forehead.

Suhaili Maflinda Anwar, 25, was disappointed with her boyfriend and sought the help of susuk practitioner, Awang Yahya Mohammed, 55. Suhaili wanted a susuk emas (gold implantation) but was advised to take a susuk ayat (herbal implantation) instead. Awang used a scalpel to make an “incision” on her face which was big enough to insert a mixture of betel leaves and roots. He then dabbed water on the cut and the scar simply disappeared. Suhaili claimed that it hurt when the “incision” was made and her face looked slightly swollen after the insertion, but she could see something distinctly different about herself – even her smile was more enticing. The ritual cost her just US$150. Suhaili claimed that men have been giving her second looks since she had the susuk done. Her only regret was that she had become too irresistible to men now. A man she knew for only three days came to her house to ask for her hand in marriage. She feared that their attention might get out of hand.

The susuk wearers have to observe certain taboos to ensure that the susuk do not fall out or become ineffective. But different practitioners have different prohibitions. Awang reminded Suhaili not to scratch her face for three days, avoid eating bamboo shoots, and avoid walking under the clotheslines for one month and ten days. Mas forbade Nina from eating chicken for 44 days. Suhaili, a Muslim, claimed that her family knew about her “operation” and approved of it because organic ingredients were implanted rather than metal, which was against Islamic teachings. While some Muslims draw distinction between the two types of implant, the practitioner, Mas Ayu, said both were condoned by her faith because she recited Quranic verses during the rituals.

There seems to be a ready cure for every malady that plagues the human race with dissatisfaction. Other types of susuk including the mellifluous voice susuk where organic ingredients are inserted underneath the folds of the shin to improve one’s vocal prowess, susuk for the pubic area to increase sexual prowess, and susuk for invincibility usually requested by policemen. Susuk practitioners learn the art from their forefathers and the practice is passed from one generation to another.

Although susuk needles can be removed surgically, the metals may be trapped between layers of fat and tissues in our body. Susuk needles have shown up on radiograms used by dentists. Many susuk wearers have also approached plastic surgeons when they wanted to have the implanted needles removed. But the operation is more difficult when the tissues in our body push the needles deeper under the skin. Scarring becomes inevitable. An incision needs to be made for each needle which is implanted in a different location under the skin and the place has to be stitched up. There are also risks of infection if needles are not properly sterilised and if the practitioner hits a nerve or artery during the implantation. The susuk practitioners are not licensed to carry out such operations. There is also the possibility of susuk needles dislodging important facial muscles or organs.

Science has its equivalent in gold thread implantation. It involves inserting gold under the skin anywhere in the body, but usually done in the face. This increases the production of collagen resulting in an improved skin texture, rejuvenates ageing skin and creates a well-moisturised, glowing complexion. The effect will be seen in three months’ time and can last up to five years. The operation costs between RM5,000 and RM10,000. The gold will remain in the body forever.

Susuk has its share of sceptics.

“It’s more of an optical illusion rather than a real physical transformation. People feel attracted to a susuk wearer because their vision is being manipulated by mysterious forces. A susuk wearer would be in the company of spirits and satan, even though one is not aware of it.
Muhammad Nazri, 30

The practice of susuk is related to black magic, and where black magic is concerned, there must be deception. When the wearer starts receiving attention and compliments for her beauty, she becomes dependent on the susuk. This is when djinn and the devil manipulate her faith in life.
Ustaz Mohd Basori

There are people who claim to possess telekinetic and psychokinetic powers which supposedly enable them to move objects with their minds, but studies have shown that, in most cases, it is merely a sleight of hand… The community must exercise an open mind, practise extra caution and not be so gullible when associating with paranormal practitioners, bearing in mind incidents like rape, fraud, and even manslaughter. If something is too good to be true, it normally is.
Prof Hussain Habil
Head of Psychology Medicine, Universiti Malaya

Susuk, a black magic thriller about the practice, is directed by Naeim Ghalili and Amir Muhammad, and stars Diana Rafar, Ida Nerina, Adlin Amam Ramly and Sofea Jane. It will be screened in cinemas in Malaysia some time this year.

Synopsis of the movie:
Beauty has a price. Soraya is a young trainee nurse who is starting to feel disaffected by her life. A chance introduction to the world of glamour piques her earlier ambition to be a star. She does not succeed at first, but she is told that the forbidden practice of susuk can help. She has to make a choice whether to stay the way she is, or cross the line…. Meanwhile, Suzana is a prominent diva with an air of mystery. She has long been a practitioner of the black arts due to her use of the extreme susuk keramat. Every time she violates a taboo, a human life is required. We follow the eventful lives of these two women until we get to the true secret of this dreaded charm.

Mas Ayu performing her ‘magic’ on a customer.

The ingredients and tools of various forms of ancient healing.

Tool to do Susuk

Susuk demonstration