ANT101 Lecture 4
ANT101 Lecture 4
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Date Created: 11/13/15
Running Head THE BATEK The Batik of Malaysia Jennifer Robinson ANT 101 Professor J anni Pedersen May 6 2013 THE BATEK 2 The Batek of Malaysia The Batek or The Batek De are one group of Malayan aborigines that are still nomadic hunters and gatherers so the exact locations of their settlements change when one of their tribe members dies or the resources that they use for survival is depleted Antonio amp Gisela 2013 Historically the Batek dwelled in the forests of Pahang Malaysia but due to selective logging or clearcutting the Batek now largely inhabit the Taman Negara National Park The national park has remained available to its original occupants and has become a refuge area for other Batek driven out of their home areas due to government encroachment Bisht amp Bankoti 2004 p 105 Today the Batek supplement their foraging by trading forest products like rattan which is used to make furniture baskets and fish traps as well as gaharu which is a resinous wood used in incense and perfume Bisht amp Bankoti 2004 p 102 The Batek trade such items for money food cloth and metal tools The forest is a major part of the Batek s existence so they treat the forest like a supermarket that supplies almost all of the things they need to survive The amount of traded food in their diet changes from season to season because they largly depend on wild foods but they do try to keep some rice in their passion Unlike some of us who fear the unknown that lurks in the forest the Batek feel safe there because they have learned to deal with its potential dangers by evolving rituals and taboos and these dictate their behavior towards their environment Ismail 1995 The Batek people have strong values and beliefs which have effects on their economic and social organization as well as how they deal with sickness and healing THE BATEK 3 Like any other culture The Batek have a system of beliefs and values that govern how they handle everyday life situations Like many of us in Western civilization they believe in sharing treating each other kind and they do not support physical violence The Batek are The Batek of Malaysia opposed to any form of violence Violence aggressive action physical retribution shown by any member of the community would cause that person to be ostracized because of this belief the men and women of the Batek do not have to fear the threats of physical violence The Batek believe that the forest and any source of sustenance found in it are the property of all of the Batek they treat all unharvested resources as unowned goods These unowned resources are considered freely available to anyone who wants to harvest them regardless of where they are located or who found them For example if a man discovers a tree the sap of which is used to make dart poison he will freely share with the group the knowledge of where it is to be found and will not attempt to extract any reward for his discovery There is no need even to ask the discoverer39s permission before tapping it Similarly the location of a newly discovered wild fruit tree is relayed to the entire group and it thereafter becomes available to anyone although occasionally Batek claim they would forbid outsiders such as Malays from harvesting it Endicott 1991 This is a great example of how the Batek share the forest equally among the group just like when groups of women from various households troop together through each others gardens digging tapioca tubers ostensibly sharing the produce of their gardens while still in the process of collection Roseman 1998 Food sharing contributes to the productiveness of their society by making so that the people are not burdened by having to find food every day The Batek share their food without doing any calculations as to who gets what or how much to THE BATEK 4 divide between themselves and the other group members because they assume that in the end they will get as much as they give These at just some of the beliefs that makes their culture so rich The Batek also believe that they live in the forest because it is the natural order of things that was established by superhuman beings They believe that if they moved out of the forest the The Batek of Malaysia hala or superhuman being would destroy the world The Batek believe that they play a role in preserving the cosmic order they have to guard the forest by living in it and following the foraging way of life TuckPo 2005 They also have to maintain communication with the superhumans which they do mainly by holding singing sessions in which shamans may fall in a trance and send their shadowsouls to visit the superhumans above and below the eart Bisht amp Bankoti 2004 p 104 Today the Batek believe that the superhuman beings continue to maintain important natural processes like the seasonal cycles of fruit and honey and to preserve the separation of the sky the earth and the underground sea Bisht amp Bankoti 2004 p 103 While the Batek believe in a natural order of things they still follow traditions and customs that have been passed down through the generations Unlike most cultures the Batek do not have any specified form of government or politics There is no one specific person who is the leader or ruler over the Batek people Of both male and female there are natural leaders who a respected enough for others to seek out their advice and guidance but they do not impose their will onto the others The Batek do not have institutional leadership positions except those imposed by the Malaysian Department of Indigenous People s Affairs JHEOA Few activities require coordination by a leader In some THE BATEK 5 group activities like poisoning fish people voluntarily follow the lead of whoever is most eXpert at it but that leadership does not carry over to other activities Bisht amp Bankoti 2004 p 103 Though the J HEOA a Malaysian government agency has appointed a liaison to speak to the government on behalf of the Batek they do not hold a significant place of status in the Batek The Batek of Malaysia community The fact that they Batek people do not have a specific leader aids in the freedom that they have from the outer societies The Batek people do not have traditional methods of caring for the sick and wounded Their deeply rooted beliefs in uence their ways that they heal the sick The Batek believe that one of their disease ke oy consisting of fever depression shortness of breath and weakness is caused when someone is angry with another without justification While there are some spells that may help the cure for the disease is for the person who is angry to control his or her feelings so the victim can recover Endicott amp Dentan 2004 Some of the Bateks beliefs about healing and sickness help to ensure that they treat each other well Since victims of any adverse behavior receive the groups support and the person who cause the individual be sick or caused the disease lose social support and they may be ostracized They also hold singing sessions when people are seriously ill to get healing powers and knowledge from the superhuman beings Though the Batik have their own healing ritual and beliefs there is still a need for them to seek modern medicine While the Batek have strong values and beliefs that they have passed on through the generations they have had various effects on their economic and social organization as well as THE BATEK how they deal with sickness and healing Even though wide scale logging of the Malaysian jungle in the 1980s caused the Batek to relocate unlike other groups of indigenous people the Batek have been able to hang on to their beliefs and traditions that to them are a way of life Culturally conservative Batek are attempting to preserve their way of life by withdrawing from the other cultures that inhabit Malaysia as much as possible it has worked in the past but with more and more tourists The Batek of Malaysia and government officials pouring into the park The Batek have learned to balance the changes going on around them by teaching their values practices and lore to their children and also eXposing them to the outside world to help them learn to cope with the pressures of the modern world around them THE BATEK 7 References Antonio 8 Gisela M 2013 February 22 Discovering Tarnan Negara National Park Web log post Retrieved from httpourfirstworldtripcomenj ournal48 englishjournalmalaysia86discoveringtamannegaranationalparkhtml Bisht NS Bankoti TS Ed Encyclopedia of the South East Asian Ethnography Retrieved from httpbooksgooglecombooks idRp5cCMHFXQCamppgPA1 12amplpgPA1 12ampdqthebatekofmalaysiaEconomic organizationampsource Endicott K 1991 Property Power and Con ict among the Batek of Malaysia In T Ingold D Riches J Woodburn B Bender B Morris A Barnard Eds Hunters and Gatherers I History Evolution and Social Change II Property Power and Ideology p 110 Oxford England Berg Endicott K Dentan RK 2004 Ethnocide Malaysian Style Turning Aborigines into Malays Retrieved from httpWWWmagickrivernetethnocidehtm Ismail F 1995 Dec 17 The batek and their belief in natural order of things New Straits Times Retrieved from http searchproquestcomdocview26906739 1 accountid325 21 Roseman M 1998 Singers of the Landscape Song History and Property Rights in the Malaysian Rain Forest American Anthropologist 100 1 106121 THE BATEK TuckPo L 2005 The Meanings of Trees Forest and Identity for the Batek of Pahang Malaysia The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 63 249261 doi101080
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