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The Batek of Malaysia - Research Paper Example

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The Batek are originally from Malaysia and are found in the rainforest of peninsular Malaysia. They gather food by hunting rather than animal husbandry and so their place of settlement varies within the limited boundaries of the area that they occupy…
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The Batek of Malaysia
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The Batek of Malaysia

They are one of the groups of Malayan aborigines (Orang Asli) and from historic times they have always been gathering food by hunting and gathering natural resources (Bisht and Bankoti, 2004, p.100). This paper will focus on forage as primary mode of subsistence of the Batek population and its impact on some aspects of their culture. The Batek have maintained their primitive lifestyles but with time they might be facing challenging with respect to upholding their beliefs and traditions.
There is a population of 133,000 Orang Asli in Malaysia and they are divided into 3 groups which again has 18 ethnic sub-groups. Each group has an identity of their and differ in language, culture and also architecture. In the age of urbanization they have adopted modern lifestyles and have come to live in urban areas. However, the Batek still maintain their traditional nomadic lifestyle (Beswick, 2010). The Batek people claim to have a strong and positive relationship with the forest. They hunt for food in the forests and also take refuge in the forests. In spite of their dependence on forests, their everyday life can be in danger.
As with other nomadic groups, the Batek too suffer from this fear. The major factor that contributes to their fear of life is falling of trees. The Batek have an inherently practical approach to this problem. They cut down a tree if they think it has the possibility of falling over their camp. If cutting down of a tree does not seem possible then they escape from the way of the tree. As the best and hassle free solution they build their camps in place where there are no old trees so that they are saved from the threat of potential falling trees. In general term, this fear of the Batek of falling trees is a fitting environmental behaviour and can be considered normal for people living among trees. The Batek people believe that the world will cease to exist if no people live in the forests and so according to their belief they are holding up the world by remaining attached to the forests. Administrative boundaries do not restrict the Batak and they move freely in and out of Taman Negara Park. Based on their political and sexually democratic structure, there exist no boundaries among groups. The main characteristic of their daily camp life is fluctuation. The Batek people always look for new zones for resource and so their encampments are always fresh and in established sites (Tuck-Po, 2005, pp.250-251). A camp group has an average of 38 people and in general does not remain in one place for more than two weeks. They move from one rive valley to another in three to four months. Their movement is not random through the forest. They follow a definite walking trail and other pathways including rivers and streams (Tuck-Po, 2005, pp.250-251). The Batek do not have ownership of lands and they only look after lands. This makes them easier to move every five months so that the forest can replenish (Beswick, 2010). In Batek society leadership is not ascribed. It is based on situation and activity. Although individuals make decisions, still group decisions act as the best compromise between peaceful agreements and chaotic conflicts. Dominating behaviour is not favorably accepted and even the children have the right to object and refuse obedience. The nuclear family is the primary unit for production and consumption. An important social performance is the practice of sharing of food between households. The largest share of food that they gather goes to the family members of the hunter and their closest kin and the remaining portion of the food is distributed among the other members of the ... Read More
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