Use of Mythical Creatures in Folk Literature of Southeast Asia: A Comparative analysis

Edgar R. Eslit(1),

(1) St. Michael's College, Philippines
Corresponding Author


This paper presents a comparative analysis of the use of mythical creatures in Southeast Asian folk literature, focusing on the dragons in Javanese folktales from Indonesia, the naga in Thai folklore, and the aswang in Filipino mythology. The paper examines the historical and cultural context of Southeast Asia, the evolution of folk literature in the region, and the role of mythical creatures in Southeast Asian culture. It analyzes the similarities and differences in the portrayal of mythical creatures across different cultures, identifies common themes and motifs in Southeast Asian folk literature, and evaluates the significance of the use of mythical creatures in conveying cultural values and beliefs. The paper concludes that the use of mythical creatures is an important aspect of Southeast Asian folk literature and highlights the implications of the study for future research in the field. The findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical heritage of Southeast Asia and shed light on the unique features of its folk literature.


Folk literature of Southeast Asia, Comparative analysis, Mythical creatures


Aung-Thwin, M. (2017). Myth and History in Southeast Asia. Cambridge University Press.

Bautista, M. L. (2007). Aswang complex in Philippine folklore. Philippine Studies, 55(2), 153-186.

Beyer, H. O. (2013). The study of Philippine folklore. In Philippine Folklore Stories (pp. 1-14). Abela Publishing Ltd.

Custodio, M. R. (2020). Philippine Folklore: Its Importance and Influence on Filipino Society. Humanities Diliman, 17(2), 1-18.

De Leon, J. R. (2021). The Philippine Myths and Legends: An Overview of their Role in Philippine Culture and Society. Asian Journal of Humanities and Social Studies, 9(1), 35-42.

Eberhardt, N. (2014). Javanese dragons: An introduction. Indonesia and the Malay World, 42(122), 327-344.

Eslit, E. R. (2023). Resilience of Philippine Folklores: An Enduring Heritage and Legacy for the 21st Century. Resilience of Philippine Folklores: An Enduring Heritage and Legacy for the 21st Century | Request PDF (

Frialde, M. J. M. (2017). The Representation of Philippine Mythical Creatures in Contemporary Filipino Children's Literature. Kritika Kultura, 28, 268-293.

Huang, Y. T. (2015). Naga, dragon, and dragon king: Image of the naga in Thailand. Journal of Chinese Literature and Culture, 2(2), 203-224.

Jose, F. M. (2018). An Analysis of Philippine Mythical Creatures in Literature. Journal of Philippine Studies: Historical and Ethnographic Viewpoints, 66(4), 51-76.

Kadir, J. (2012). The dragon motif in Javanese culture. Asian Social Science, 8(3), 38-44.

Kumar, A., & Singh, S. P. (2014). Aspects of dragon symbolism in south Asian art and literature. Indian Journal of History of Science, 49(4), 549-562.

Layugan, L. P. (2019). Philippine Folklore and its Role in the Preservation of Culture. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 9(1), 456-461.

Manfredi, V. (2019). Monsters are more than folklore: the mythology of Southeast Asia. ASEAS–Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 12(1), 1-20.

Ramli, S. M. (2013). The naga motif in the Malay world. Kajian Malaysia, 31(2), 1-17.

Traude Gavin, F. (2008). Introduction: Folklore and Ethnology in Southeast Asia. In The Mekong Biogeographic Region: Ecological Patterns and Conservation Consequences (pp. 269-272). University of Chicago Press.

Tsuchiya, Y. (2019). The aswang phenomenon: A cultural study of the Philippine monster. Southeast Asian Studies, 8(2), 261-288.

Van der Kroef, J. M. (1961). Indonesian traditional literature: The historical background. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land-en Volkenkunde, 117(3), 243-269.

West, J. R. (2018). The naga king's daughter: Transformation and the transnational in Buddhist visual culture. University of Chicago Press.

Wu, M. H. (2015). Demons and dragons: Chinese myths in Southeast Asian historical narratives. Asia Research Institute Working Paper Series, 249.

Zheng, T. (2019). Power of the dragons: The dragon motif in the Burmese court. Asian Journal of Social Science, 47(1-2), 88-107.

Full Text: PDF

Article Metrics

Abstract View : 217 times
PDF Download : 150 times

DOI: 10.57235/ijrael.v2i2.493


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2023 Edgar R. Eslit

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.