The Primitive Mind and Modern Man

Nomadic Peoples: A Case Study of the Batek People of Malaysia

Author(s): John Alan Cohan

Pp: 266-273 (8)

DOI: 10.2174/978160805087111001010266

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Nomadic people lack a home base, except for temporary encampments, and have the tendency to roam at will. They display resourcefulness and the ability to quickly adapt to new circumstances. They are tremendously sensitive to the environment around them, and have the ability to get on with very little. The Bateks of Malaysia call themselves “forest people,” living in the forests, gauging their movements according to huntinggathering needs. They believe that if no one lived in the forest, the world would come to an end. They subsist on plants, animals (including fish and monkeys), wild tubers, yams, fruit and honey. They sell or trade honey, rattan and other forest products to Malay traders. They hunt monkeys and other small game with bamboo blowpipes with darts tipped with a poison made from sap. The Bateks are reluctant to uproot themselves into government settlements or otherwise integrate into modern society. Still, some Bateks now live in permanent settlements where they plant crops, while spending part of the year foraging for food and collecting rattan and other forest produce for trade.

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