The Batek of Malaysia

The Batek
The Batek are one among a dozen diverse cultural groups of the Orang Asli people of central Malaysia. They are an indigenous people who live in the rainforest of peninsular Malaysia. The name Batek means ‘original people’ and is assumed to be first used by Austronesian-speaking settlers who arrived by boat from the islands of Southeast Asia. They now largely inhabit the Taman Negara National Park, as a result of intrusion. They are nomadic hunters and gatherers and so the exact locations of their settlements change within the general confines of the area where they inhabit. The Batek have survived for centuries as a nomadic foraging-gatherer society and have managed to create and sustain a considerably distinct culture from the socio-structural precepts of the general population.

The Batek Life
Traditionally, Batek subsisted primarily on gathered tubers from the forest.   Fruit, leaves, shoots, fish, and small game such as monkeys supplied to their diet. They have started depending on commercial foods such as rice, sugar, tinned sardines, biscuits and tea as a result of the addition of cash to their economy. Though the utilization of wild food sources decreased, they depend on collected food also for their subsistence.   Its availability strongly affects the Batek's movements through the forest. Rivers and streams also play a vital role in Batek life. They use water for their household uses and also for bathing. They collect fish from rivers and they also serve as natural territorial boundaries for the Batek. Because of these reasons, The Batek prefer to camp in the vicinity of a stream or river.

    The Batek has a moral obligation to share food which they have gained.   The person who gathers the food item will first give to their immediate family. Then they will share it with their extended family and finally to the rest of the camp.   Everyone is giving to everyone else so that everyone has food to eat, even if any family is unable to acquire...