The misadventures of the Purple-faced langur in folklore and occult

Sinharaja Rainforest

Fun Facts

There is no shortage of whimsical tales, folklore and myths surrounding primates in Sri Lanka. From the story of the monkey that lost its tail by being too curious (thus turned into Man!), to the clever hat seller who was robbed by a troop of thieving monkeys, but managed to get his hats back by tricking the monkeys into imitating him when he took off his own hat and dashed it to the ground! Superstitions however are surprisingly regional, where, for instance, in the Sabaragamuwa Province, people believe that if a monkey enters your home through the kitchen door, a resident will fall ill!

Did you know?

Harrowing research published by Charmalie Nahallage and Michael Huffman in their paper ‘Diurnal Primates in Sri Lanka and People's Perception of Them’ states that “These primates are also hunted for body parts to be used as a medicine and for ritual activities; this occurred very infrequently and only in rural areas. In Sabaragamuwa Province, the heart of the Purple-faced langur is given to pregnant women, and the skull, skin, and penis are used in “thovil,” another traditional healing ritual. Also, the meat and bones are used for “huniyam” (a practice akin to black magic or voodoo). In Uva Province, langur heart, when, is believed to increase one’s intelligence. In Western Province, both toque macaque and purple-faced langur skins are used to make drums.”


Habitat varies with subspecies of the Purple-faced langur. They often inhabit areas near permanent water sources and can be found in Sinharaja, Kitulgala, Kandalama, Mihintale, in the mountains at Horton Plains National Park and in the rainforest near the city of Galle.



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