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The Penanggalan is a vampire-like monster from the mythology of Southeast Asia, and is similar in many ways to the Aswang. These cursed women look like normal people during the day, but at night their head detaches and flies off, dragging its lungs, heart, stomach and intestines beneath it as it flies around in search of blood to drink, with a particular fondness for feeding on pregnant women and young children (another Aswang-like trait). They can be detected during the day by a persistent odor of vinegar, as the head needs to soak its organs in vinegar to shrivel them up sufficiently in order to reinsert them back into its body. Because they must reunite with their body before sunrise, as sunlight will kill them if it touches them in their true state, traditional methods of warding them away involve creating barriers of thorns or broken glass, as the Penanggalan will not approach these for fear of getting tangled up in them. Destroying the body, or filling it with thorns and/or broken glass, is the best way to ensure they will die at sunrise.

Penanggalan have appeared as monsters in various tabletop games, including Dungeons & Dragons, the New World of Darkness, and All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

In the Old World of Darkness[edit]

The Penanggalan is not a specific type of monster, and is instead a title given to a female Kuei-jin of the Golden Courts who have shown a mastery of the use of Flesh and Jade Shintai enough to be able to detach their heads and internal plumbing and let them fly through the air, and prove (through a secret and exacting vetting process) that they aren't akuma. They are known for their bombastic and flamboyant fashion sense, a right which was earned upon gaining the title.

They are equivalent to Mandarins and Ancestors of the Courts of the Quincunx in terms of seniority and authority. Only women may gain the title in the Golden Courts.