Notes on a Bestiary


The domain of horror, has always been considered a terrain of the non-human, of spirits, bodily/bawdily excesses, of cosmic and animal essences always already escaping our grasp. In our proposed piece we seek to introduce the bestiary as a method for encountering agencies beyond the human. Occupying a space between the shamanic and the cryptozoological, the bestiary functions as an attempt at rewilding thinking around horror, from Asia. It brings together what we propose as concept-beings from across Zomian highlands, moving beyond an impetus of control, and beyond definition, containment and capture. We locate storytelling as central to this project, proposing a site of converging intensities, where fabulation is at its ripest.  The bestiary seeks to entangle myths and facts, bodily affects and plastic materialities, weaving a tale whose monstrosity cannot be documented otherwise.

In our essay, we  seek to work with three such bestial figures: the tikbalangs (half horse, half-human impish guardians of the forest), manannanggals (forested witches embodying a rhizomatic  condition), and weretigers (interstitial beings who are sometimes human, sometimes tiger, living between the hearth and the forest ) as three possible points of entry. The text will take the form of a series of vignettes of marginalia inscribed on texts by Pujita Guha on the tikbalangs, Amy Lien and Enzo Camacho on the manannaggals and Ho Tzu Nyen on the weretiger.