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SEMAI OF MALAYSIA - Research Paper Example

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The Semai community is regarded as one of the most peaceful existing communities; this is derived from various ethnology and ethnography documents. The Semai communities live harmoniously with any kind of conflicts being solved by council of elders…
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Download file to see previous pages The Semai of Malaysia is unique in a way from other groups or tribes of the American society. What make them different are their beliefs, kinship and health issues; these aspects have made them to survive for many years in this dynamic world. It is believed that the Semai tribe is what remained from the original ancient populations of South East Asia, who then belong to the Senoi ethnic groups. The lands in Malaysia are fertile and productive; this has made the Semai society to practice horticulture- planting crops in their fertile lands. In the recent times, the indigenous community has been made to shift to Malaysia hills and mountains by powerful technologies and peoples.
But at times,the Semai community practice a mixed system of arboriculture, shifting cultivations, hunting and gathering. In general they practice hunting and horticultural farming. The main crop that is grown by Semai of Malaysia is rice; at times they plant arrow roots, grapes and corns in their farms.
The Semai community is living in densely forested mountains. The horticulture they practice is non- mechanized, that is non-intensive form of plant cultivation performed non- repetitively on a plot of land. The Semai people live in ‘Kampangs’ (close villages) close to their farms and during planting seasons they head back to the forest to go and hunt for the rest of the year. They have low population densities, which has made them to be scattered in different parts of the huge farms and be able to practice shifting cultivation. When such horticultural factors are done, the families are grouped in scattered clusters moving from one location to another.
They are known by anthropologists for their behaviour which is non- aggressiveness and a version to interpersonal violence of any kind. The relationship is that married men do not batter their wives, nor beat their parents. Children are not allowed to engage in activities like fights, physical assaults and murder which are virtually unknown to the community. In moving the horticulturalists are immobile as forages that may control rearing among is not a strict within their culture as is with forages. Majority of the children help their parents with providing labour in the fields enhancing productivity (Fix, 1990). The Semai community practice what is referred to as generalized reciprocity which means they can exchange goods and services without having any track or measurements of the exact value of what they have traded with an assumption that the transaction will balance itself in some time to come. This act of generalized reciprocity happens between parents and children, or between couples, or in advanced stages involving clans and large kin groups. This is a formal way of exchange that involves total trust and minimal distance between the two parties. For the Semai community, the main reason for eating is to make one feel full and satisfied. The meal to be eaten should include starch dish which is preferably rice. Eating meat, fowls or fish without any starch is ridiculous to them. The other economic activities include fishing, hunting and gathering. They use weapons for hunting such as, blow pipes and poisonous darts. They also use ‘rattan’ (climbing palms in forests) to make binders, house building, basketry, fish-traps others .(Norwak & Laird, 2010). 2.1Beliefs and values The Semai’s beliefs and values are enshrined in their religion, which embraces of belief on the forest and natural spirituality; a kind of animism. Animism involves traditions of thunder god called “Enku” which is associated with other kind of animals like a small eye less snake, beings working hand in hand with god, dragons that are present during thunder squalls associated with rainbows. Other animals include a flying animal with feathers and those with rounded scales and moist skins living inside or near water bodies (Dentan, 1983). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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