The magic circle (ilmu baris Laksamana)

William Maxwell describes the protective aspect of a Malay silat technique as follows:

“The efficacy of a line or circle under some circumstances in keeping off evil influence, is believed in by the Malays. In Perak, a spell known as ilmu baris Laksamana (said to be borrowed from Hikayat Sri Rama, the Malay Ramayana*) consists in tracing a line on the ground, a prescribed formula being at the same time repeated. No enemy, wild beast, or spirit can cross this line.”

[*]For further reference, please see Marsden’s Grammar p176-179 where Laksamana describes a circle round the house in which he leaves Sita Dewi in order to protect her from Maharaja Rawana.

Reference: Maxwell W (ed). Notes and Queries. Malaysian Branch Royal Asiatic Society, MBRAS Reprint 15. 1997. p62.


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