The Batek Of Malaysia Essay

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The Batek of Malaysia
Aron Granrud
ANT 101
Michelle Dorne
1/7/13

The Batek of Malaysia The Batik is an indigenous tribes living in the rainforest of the peninsula of Malaysia. They live in camps composed of five to six nuclear families. They are mostly foragers although the occasionally practice horticulture. To survive the tribes relies on hunting, gathering and trading rattan or forest products. Malaysia is on the south Malay Peninsula and stretches from the Thai border down to the island of Singapore. The population of Malaysia is about twenty-three million. The main idea of the research is to provide a basic understanding of the Batek behavioral and cultural lifestyle. In this paper, you will see how this culture shares their kinship, the role of gender relation, their belief and values, and other distinct cultural action unique to the Batek.
The Batik people are a foraging culture. They are reliant on the land and their success is dependent on the values instilled in the camp. These camps made up of “three to six nuclear family members. The nuclear family is the most common type of family in foraging societies. A nuclear family is composed of a mother and father and their children. The nuclear family is most common because, in a foraging setting, it is adaptive to various situations.”(Endicott, 1981). These camps live in groups and move from place to place so they can hunt, dig tubers, and gather goods from the forest. Both the men and the women share the same amount of work in order to take care of their families and find food. Most often the men take care of the hunting (using handmade bamboo pipes and poison darts), and the women gather the tubers and berries. Though both the men and the women interchange food gathering roles “both foods are valued equal and both sexes are part of the food-sharing network” (Peaceful, n.d). Although both genders take, part in both of these, there is no separation between what the men and women do inside the camp. Inside the camps, they live by general reciprocity, which mean no one goes without. If one person returns from a hunt with success, the entire tribe benefits from his success. With the sharing of goods in order to care for each other “virtually everything in the village is shared, including food, whether it has been hunted or gathered” (Beswick, 2010). There is no owner of any particular item; rather everything is for the betterment and wellness of the band. Kinship creates a strongly connected group composed of nuclear families. Kinships are formed with people either born from the ancestors and those brought in by marriage. The Batek value marriage although they do not place a value on purity or virginity. In the Batek culture, they have strict rules against incest. They are not allowed to marry anyone closer than second cousin or allowed to marry anyone with the same name as a sibling or a parent. The availability of spouses can often time be scarce because out of the seventy percent of the average population estimated to be no more than 900 actively mate, and marriage rituals are slim to none. Marriages are based on equality, compatibly, and affection, if the relationship erodes, either spouse can divorce the other and count on the support of the band to assist with their needs (Peaceful, n.d). Kinship bonds formed within the camps they live. Each camp usually has 36 members, and as much as a two-hour walk can separate camps. Often members will travel to other camps and join them sometimes on a daily basis. The camps usually move every two to three months depending on the availability of resources. As the resources start to become scarce, the band members collaborate with kin and agree to where they should move. Since the village moves often they will only “collect what is needed and useful, and no efforts is made to store or harvest food beyond their immediate need” (Ismail, 1995). They listen to the recommendations of…