The Batek of Malaysia Essay

The Batek of Malaysia is a hunter-gatherer tribe, they are located in the Malaysian rainforest in groups of families.

They would be considered Foragers, They live in camps of five or six nuclear families. Nuclear families consist of a Mother, Father, and their children. “The nuclear family is most common because, in a foraging setting, it is adaptive to various situations. ” (Cultural Anthropology Chapter 3.

7 Social Organization) There are few differences in the way men and women behave and contribute to camp life.Both the husband and the wife raise the children; and, although generally men take care of hunting (using bamboo blowpipes and poison darts) and women take care of digging tubers, both genders take part in both these activities and neither activity is conferred a higher status. Both the men and women will collect the firewood and water for the camp. Even a group’s “headman,” or chief, may be a woman. There are no words for boy or girl, until puberty. The woman can hunt whenever they want, but usually only due so near the camp and for small game.While the daily food-getting responsibilities of the sexes differ – women normally gather vegetable foods and men concentrate on hunting, but both the men and woman collect and trade rattan, although the men do not weave with the rattan it is mainly the women as they will sell the woven baskets to tourist for money.

The men specialize in hunting as they believe they have stronger breath for the blowguns. They are also considered fairly expendable as the ratio are 11 men to 8 women in most camps. The women who are nursing babies and the young children do not hunt.The batek have no sense of property ownership, the area they forage in is not theirs as they do not own it, and they do not forbit others from camping on it. There is no domination of leader, the leader emerges naturally through age and wisdom and strength, and sometimes the leader is a women. Although the leaders do not have any power to force any one to do anything, as well as the Batek men do not own their wives, children or sisters, nor do they have any control over the womens decisions in work, offspring or any kind of power over them as the independence is valued equally by the men and women.The women are obviously valued as highly as the men in this culture, as nowhere else in the world have I ever heard of such equality. Even as much as we would like to say in America we have freedom of speech, and Women can work and go to school and become important, there are still discrepancies among Americans that still look to the male gender as being more dominate and more powerful.

Americans as well as Im sure other cultures still see a woman as the House wife, who stays home and cooks and cleans and takes care of the children as their Main role in life and not of equal value.Men are very much valued and depended upon more than a woman even in America. I find it amazing that the Batek value their women so highly. Marriage strengthens economic, political, and social links between bands. It brings families closer together by integrating the husband and wife’s side of families. This can be important because by expanding the relationships so that in times of scarcity the new band territories and their resources can open up if necessary. The Batek choose their own marriage partners, on the base of mutual physical attraction and love.The Batek desire a partner who is industrious and will participate in household activities.

The parents do not control the decision on who they may marry, but they may under mind marriages they don’t approve of. Virginity before marriage is not important in foraging societies. In some, sexual experimentation is a given before marriage. For example, some married couples were adolescent partners who had an on–again, off–again relationship.

Sexual trysts among Batek could end, or they could evolve into marriage.There is no formal marriage ceremony, basically they are considered married once they begin to reside together and perform activities of husband and wife. The couple can choose to live where ever they want, generally they will alternate between the camps of their parents. Although initially the couple resides matrilocally, but after a year or so, they move to the man’s band and live patrilocally. Even after years of marriage, some couples continue to shift from one band to the other, keeping their kin ties strong with both bands.

Monogamy is the normal expectations between the couples.But divorce is very common. It is usually common to take place in the early years of a marriage, prior to the birth of any children. The wife is who typically initiates the separation. Among Batek, in which moving in together merges into marriage, once they are no longer living together they are considered divorced, but both parents will still care for the children. Infants will most likely stay with their mother, who is breastfeeding them, but older children may choose the parent they want to live with, and they can move back and forth without causing animosity between the divorced parents.

Malaysia’s official religion is Islam more than half of the population follows Islam. The freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution. Government statistics in 2000 noted that about 60. 4 percent of the population was Muslim, while Buddhism was the second most adhered to faith, comprising 19. 2 percent of the population.

9. 1 percent of the remaining population was Christian; 6. 3 percent Hindu; 2. 6 Confucian, Taoist, and other Chinese faiths; 0. 8 percent belonged to tribal and folk religions; and 0. 4 percent were adherents of other faiths.

Another 0. 8 percent professed no faith, and the religious affiliation of 0. 4 percent was listed as unknown percent professed no faith, and the religious affiliation of 0. 4 percent was listed as unknown. (Global Security. org) The Chinese population in Malaysia is basically Buddhist or Taoist with a few following Confucianism.

Indians in Malaysia are usually Hindus. The majority of the Malays (particularly ethnic Malays) are Muslims, with Christianity being practiced by some Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and many of the indigenous people of Sabah and Sarawak.The Batek live in harmony with the rain forest environment and perceive it and the supernatural, therefore allowing the people to grasp and comprehend the more natural process and unpredictable events in their life. “Conservative Batek believe that it is their duty to continue the way of life laid out for them by superhuman beings. ” They believe that if they were to stop living in the forest and performing their rituals that the superhuman beings would destroy the world in a catastrophic storm and flood.

They truly believe that by continuing their traditions that they are doing all mankind a service.Although as of now a days some have changed their way of life and most have become pressured to be Islam, some say that Allah is the God of the Malays. As you can see the Batek of Malaysia is a hunter-gatherer tribe, they are considered foragers, they are able to move when and where they wish and engage in any of a number of economic activities. The Batek generally reside in the rain forests of Malaysia, they are loyal to the people in their groups and they share everything as far as food and land.

The men and women are treated equally and thought to be equally important. They are truly and equal society.References8. 2 (Summer 1984) Women in a Changing World Endicott Karen Lampell http://www. culturalsurvival.

org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/malaysia/batek-de-malaysia Narendra S. Bisht, T. S.

Bankoti : Encyclopaedia of the South East Asian Ethnography The headman was a woman : The Gender Egalitarian Batek of Malaysia (2008, Waveland Press, Inc), http://www. globalsecurity. org/military/world/malaysia/religion. htm Richard B. Lee, Richard Heywood Daly : The Cambridge encyclopedia of hunters and gatherers