Lots of cities select a cute, cuddly animal as their mascot, but the Indonesian city of Pontianak, located in Borneo’s West Kalimantan province, may take the opposite approach: According to Mashable, local officials are thinking about erecting a giant statue of a female vampiric ghost, in honor of the evil spirit the town is named after.
For those not familiar with Indonesian folklore, the pontianak—also known as kuntilanak—is the vengeful spirit of a woman who died in childbirth or while pregnant, and has returned to Earth to prey on the living. Tourism officials think that a 330-foot statue of the ghoulish phantom would attract visitors to Pontianak, after noting the popularity of similar public works in other Asian cities, The Jakarta Post reports.
For example, Singapore has the Merlion—a statue of an animal with a lion head and a fish body. The head symbolizes the lion that a mythical Malay prince is said to have encountered upon his arrival to the island (he named the region “Singapura,” or “Lion City”), and the tail symbolizes the city’s origins as a fishing village. Meanwhile, Kuching, Malaysia is filled with large cat statues; they reference the city’s name, which is derived from the Malay word for “cat.”
Mock-ups of the statue have been making the rounds on Facebook, and Indonesia's Public Works and Public Housing Ministry reportedly told tourism officials that they would contribute funds for the project if the city council gives it the go-ahead. However, Pontianak’s giant ghost statue isn’t a done deal just yet.
The Straits Times reports that locals have formed a protest group against the statue, arguing that a giant ghost statue would be, well, pretty creepy. Group representatives have met with city council members, who've reassured them that the ghost statue is only in the planning stages at this point, and that they’ve heard no official word from government higher-ups.
“It’s only an idea,” said council official Irwan Suhandar, according to the paper.