The Batek Of Malaysia

Human Culture is as an integrated routine of human perception, knowledge and habit that is learnt and transmitted from one generation to some other. Culture unifies people and varieties a basis of acknowledgement. Cultures are differentiated through just how different people perform their life; for example, the food they take in, dressing mode, dialects, customs as well as the values they hold. The principal function of subsistence performs a substantial role in identifying different facets of cultural behaviours and practices. Studies have revealed a culture serves as it does majorly depending on how it makes a full time income. This essay will discuss how key mode of life in the Batek of Malaysia impacts on different aspects of these life.

Origin of the Batek

The Batek community is one of the diverse social groups of the Orang Asli folks of Central Malaysia. In his book The Batek of Peninsular Malaysia, Endicott (2004) describes the Bateks as the indigenous people living in the rainforest of Peninsular, Malaysia. Matching to Endicott, the term 'Batek' was used for the first time by the Austronesian-speaking settlers. These settlers showed up by boat and originated from the hawaiian islands of Southeast Asia. Today the Batek generally inhabit the Taman Negara Country wide Park, therefore of intrusion. These are nomadic hunters as well as gatherers whose their exact locations of settlements are generally determined by the overall confines of the region they inhabit. The Batek have existed for years and years as nomadic community and foraging-gatherer population who have founded and sustained a considerably unique culture from the socio-structural precepts of the overall Malaysian community (Endicott, 2004; Endicott, 1974).

The Batek's way of Life and their Principal setting of Subsistence

In several researches conducted on the Bateks, it is revealed that their most important method of subsistence is though hunting, gathering, angling and trading forest products (Cashdan, 1980; Endicott and Karen, 1987). Bateks gathers tubers, berries and leaves for their food. Hunting of small game such as the monkeys also supplements their food. The Bateks living near water sources like channels and waterways do fishing to help expand supplement the food already gathered. They also gather and sell forest products like hardwood to earn their living. Forests encroachment and commercial pursuits like logging and engineering have compelled the Batek to switch their method of subsistence to farming. The Bateks are appearing as agriculturalists as a result of land encroachment. This gives them with cash and functions as an alternative to hunting and gathering. Their usage of wild food options has decreased as time passes. The Malysian Federal agency has also provided them with a tiny herd of cows as a start for a new life style (Wilkinson, 2006). The Bateks also collect Rattan and Gaharu solid wood. Purchased foods such as rice and flour have as time passes formed an alternative solution source of food, supplementing their principal setting of subsistence; hunting and gathering.

Most of Bateks' income comes from the collection and trade of forest produce. Rivers and streams also play a vital role in Batek's life. They use this particular for their home uses like bathing and cooking food. Rivers act as a way to obtain their food (through collecting of seafood) as well as natural territorial limitations for the Bateks. Because of these reasons, the Batek people like to reside within the vicinity of a stream or river. They also trade forest products for agricultural products and created goods. Regarding to Endicott and Karen (1987), Batek's territory was a shared source between them and the Malay farmers who resided on major river banking companies between the past due 1800s and through the final times of World Warfare II period. Through the 1970s, lots of Batek people migrated to Post Lebir, that was a federal government resettlement project that was sponsored by the Malaysian Team of Aboriginal Affairs. This was triggered by the high threat risk of the Communist guerillas that were working in the distant jungle areas. Since 1950s, the Bateks have continued to be as the only permanent people in this area (Endicott and Karen, 1987). However, Wilkinson (2006) points out that Bateks do not have any legal game titles, documents or any form of control over this land. THEIR STATE presumes which it has the land and that the Bateks are only unlawful tenants. Nonetheless, the federal government has permitted those to occupy point out land when it is not being used.

Impacts of the Batek's Key setting of subsistence

Social organization

Traditionally, Bateks are nomads who count on hunting and gathering as their main mode of survival. The Batek have a moral obligation to talk about food that they have acquired. It has shaped their approach to life and kept the community strong. The individual who collects and gathers food items first shares it along with his immediate members of the family. He then stocks it along with his extended family and finally to all of those other camp. Many people are given food so that every person has food to consume, even if his family was unable to gather or acquire food. In many events, the camp may have a sizable amount of food because of hunting activities. The Batek has formal and ritualistic way of dividing it. For instance if the monkey is found the hunters eat the tail and the offals, and then your cooked meats is sub-divided into servings fitting the sizes of the family so that all family within the camp gets an almost equivalent share. For the Bateks, posting of resources is not an action of kindness; they believe that who owns food items originating from the forest is morally obligated to share it. Their dwellings aren't made with much storing capacity as they don't hoard food without others knowing about it. Someone who is hungry can take food from another participants' place, as it isn't considered as an action of theft (Endicott, 1988; Endicott, 1974).

At Post Lebir, they merged with a little quantity of Batek from other dialect groups who had resolved and resided there. According to Endicott (1979), about 160 Batek were living there by 1981. The Government has generated a medical post, a school and other facilities at Post Lebir. It has additionally provided the settlers with seeds and other facilities to help in the growing of plastic trees and different food crops. Many of the men from Post Lebir spend the majority of their times harvesting forest produce. Some Batek women also assist in the collection of forest products. The remainder of the Batek has continuing to lead a fully nomadic subsistence in the top areas of Lebir and Relai waterways (Endicott, 1979).

After freedom in 1963, the natural rainfall forest in the Malay Peninsula has been changed with commercial export-producing crops like rubber trees and oil palms as part of development of the region. Evidently, the loss of forest can bring problems to the Batek and probably lead to a drop in their criteria of living. Wilkinson (2006) suggests two possible avenue of retreat. Those who are willing to agree to a sedentary life-style can join their settled relatives at Post Lebir so the Government will set up additional land there to accommodate them. There the Batek has to suffer an elevated intervention from outsiders and federal companies. For the Post Lebir Batek, the finish of the forests means the end of these major resources of cash. They will further force these to subsist exclusively on the federal government supplements and their own vegetation. Such a situation may easily lead standard demoralization, malnutrition and the young Bateks' to leave the pay out. The original Batek one who lives over the headwaters of the waterways might not be comfortable in seeking these new environments. He will continue steadily to follow something of merged foraging and trade in forest produce for his subsistence as it's been within his culture. As the forest is cut, the Batek are gradually retreating and some groups have to spend much of their time within the countrywide park. Their likelihood of continuing their preferred life-style is determined by the Government's decisions about logging of forest and agriculture improvements.

Taman Negara countrywide area is one of Malaysia's oldest parks. In his PhD dissertation dubbed Batek Negrito: Overall economy and Social Business, Endicott (1974) highlights that this playground was founded in 1939 and it is located in the interior of the Malay Peninsula and occupies around 1, 300 kms. In the later 1960s, tourism activities in Taman Negara began to increase progressively. This attracted many of the Batek's into jungle courses job at Kuala Tahan. In 1979, the Malaysian federal government started out evicting and relocating the Batek to a government-subsidized arrangement scheme set up at Kuala Atok, beyond your park boundaries. There are many factors behind this authorities decision. The first concern was that, using their semi-nomadic life, Batek would intermix with communist terrorists hiding in the jungle and be forced to offer them brains and economic support. The Government authorities perceived their semi-nomadic lifetime as primitive and another goal of the development task was to persuade the Batek to stop their life style. Just one more reason was to eliminate the Batek from Taman Negara as the collection and offering of natural resources do not conform to park polices. This move experienced negative repercussions to both the social corporation of the Bateks and their ethnical means of presence as they were compelled to forego their hunting and gathering way of life (Wilkinson, 2006; Cashdan, 1980).

During a certain course of time, one of the Batek's primary sources of earnings was jungle-guiding. Initially, the Batek acquired a monopoly over this as there was no competition for this work. Jungle guiding was the most satisfying short term improve the Batek as it amounted to almost US $ 15 per day (Cashdan, 1980). As local Malays obtained experience as guides, the Bateks found themselves in the difficulty and got fewer careers. Cashdan (1980) points out that the Batek almost never work as manuals because this work has been taken by the local Malay folks of Kuala Tahan. It also suggests that Batek now spends additional time in settlements outside the Park boundary where in fact the authorities has given them land to cultivate.

The Malaysian rules has assigned certain special privileges to the indigenous inhabitants. Endicott (2004) records that a person of the protection under the law directed at the Bateks is hunting secured game species for their own consumption. Because of this exclusion, The Game Department which manages the national playground has embraced a lenient method of the Batek. They don't subject their exploiting the natural food products or their peaceful moving into the park. Currently they aren't even prohibited from extracting rattan and gaharu real wood for trade. However, the truth might not exactly be the same if the number of Batek people' boosts there. If more folks live permanently in the park with the traditional lifestyle of hunting and gathering, it may greatly have an impact on the ecology of the park. In that situation, the wild life department would have regulate or prohibit the Batek activities. It means they might be prohibited from those activities which will be the essentials of the nomadic subsistence. Then the majority of them would be required to settle at Post Lebir. Others might sign up for another band of Batek people who works as firewood hobbyists in the countrywide park headquarters positioned in Kuala Tahan. So that it is almost sure that, in the face of deforestation, national park cannot avoid the termination of the traditional Batek life-style persisting there. Nevertheless, Bateks' main mode of lifestyle has molded and strengthened their social-cultural firm.

b. Political Organization

The Bateks normally reside in domestic groupings in tents and lean-tos developing a camp around ten people. The Bateks don't have a notion of private land possession. Though each encampment gets the power above the land immediately around it, they consider themselves as the caretakers of the land, rather than its owners. Batek normally lead a peaceful life. Their nomadic culture and their main way of living (hunting and gathering) have formed their political firm. There is absolutely no internal leader or adjudication system, each adult member of the camp is equal. Bateks don't have a formal procedure of resolving conflicts. If a issue arises amongst the members, the problem is mentioned privately. If still it persists, each person will publicly promote his judgment over the matter to enable other members of the camp to suggest an answer. If a remedy does not come out, one get together usually goes away until tempers cool. Once, the functional wild plants materials have been used up they migrate to some other area, but it must be located within their habitats. The Batek overall economy is highly complex and different one. They haven't any right of possession of some things such as land. Other properties like man's blowgun, tobaccos, radios, or a woman's wild hair comb are recognized to be personal properties. However, it is common for them to access or even borrowed without the owner's knowledge Sociable norms guide them to share a lot of things with the whole culture such as food found by foraging.

Bateks laid emphasis on the autonomy of individuals and nuclear families. No one in the group is designated with a certain position of power or any expert over the others of others. Though there's always a coordination and appointment among the customers, Lovers take their decisions on the work and moving. Sometimes someone who is an expert in a certain activity may emerge as head although the community does not require leaders to perform their activities. A Authorities agency, the Team of Aboriginal Affairs appoints 'headmen' as liaisons between the Federal and the Batek. The Government always chooses a person who is agreeable to the Government's goals. It really is noted that these liaisons don't have much effect in the Batek They can affect the Batek largely if they are the natural leaders of the Batek.

c. Gender Relations

The male-female relationships of the Batek are highly egalitarian. Their principal method of subsistence, hunting and gathering has affect in their gender principles as it offers in a great many other ideas. Endicott and Karen (2008) explain that men and women one of the Batek procure and talk about food. Also, Batek women usually collect veg foods and men focus on hunting of game titles and assortment of other forest products. Still, if any female wishes going for hunting she can accomplish that and a guy can collect fruits & vegetables if he wants. The Batek further worth contribution of each intimacy towards food resource. Individuals have direct and similar role in the sharing system that distributes food in a camp. The actions of the Batek aren't separated between the sexes by any rigid guidelines. If at all a leader is emerged from the group, the criterion is personality and capacity. For management purposes, gender is not considered as a criterion. Trading of rattan is another main source economic activity. When the Batek are willing to join the Government's schemes, both sexes participate equally in agricultural activities.

The egalitarian structure of their culture obviously displays in the nature of marriage on the list of Batek. Adult men and women select their own spouses due to compatibility and devotion. The husband and wife jointly make decisions about food-gathering and camp actions. Women and men live highly integrated lives often working collectively and spending time together. Usually spouses tend to be friends and coworkers. When the relationship breaks down, either spouse may start divorce. After divorce, both men and women take care of themselves with the writing network of the camp. Either of them may build shelters and their children also will be supported by others in the camp. The ethnic and religious beliefs of the Batek presume that people play equal roles within the contemporary society as designated by the natural order. In short, Egalitarian sex relations are a fundamental element of Batek life.

d. Values and Beliefs

The Batek believe various superhuman created the earth as a drive of land surrounded by the ocean (Endicott, 1979). They think that the superpowers created the humanity on earth and separated the Batek from other people. These very humans created the vegetation and pets or animals of the forest to meet their needs. The Bateks have attributed some beliefs and values in their ways of life. For instance, they believe the excellent humans provide abundant food products to them, and they thank them for mailing it. They believe to deny a request can compel super-natural harm to attack the person who won't comply. The Batek keep believe if one refuses to honor a wanted favour, a misfortune harms not only the sole person, however the entire camp gets infected. The Batek also believe in powerful shamans who have tiger systems. They believe that at night, when a shaman sleeps his heart enters in to the tiger's body. The tiger shaman requires look after his companions from problems from other wildlife.


The Bateks of Malaysia portrays a good research study of how principal mode of lifestyle influences on other aspects of cultural conducts. Their Kinship, cultural organization, political organizations, gender relations and values are products of Batek's hunting and gathering way of life. Over time, their interest of retaining mobility and flexibility has made them small entrepreneurs rather than subsistence farmers. Agriculture is not mostly practiced by the Batek since it needs a lot of time and energy before the email address details are achieved. They like to do wage-labor as it is paid by the end of the day after work. This shows that they acknowledge changes so maintaining the top components of their culture. To maintain their culture, the Batek should be permitted to enjoy the positive benefits of development. Decisions such as subsistence strategies and relocation should not be forcefully put in place against them. They should be educated on the benefits of moving into integration with the larger Malaysian culture and permitted to take decisions independently. If they choose to continue using their hunting and gathering type of existence of their ancestral lands, they must be allowed to do this.

Work cited

Cashdan, E. (1980). Egalitarianism among hunters and gatherers. American Anthropologist (82)


Endicott, K. (1974). Batek Negrito market and social business', PhD dissertation, Harvard


Endicott, K. (1979). Batek Negrito Faith. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Endicott, K. (1988). Hunters and Gatherers: Property, Power and Conflict on the list of Batek of

Malaysia. Tim Ingold, David Riches, and Adam Woodburn (Eds). NY: Berg Web publishers.

Endicott, K. (2004). The Batek of Peninsular Malaysia. " The Cambridge Encyclopedia of

Hunters and Gatherers.

Endicott, K. and Karen L. (2008). The Headman Was a female: The Gender Egalitarian Batek

of Malaysia (Waveland, 2008).

Endicott, K. and Karen L. (1987). 'The question of hunter-gatherer territoriality: The situation of the

Batek of Malaysia', Biesele M. (ed. ) Past and future of Kung ethnography: critical reflections and symbolic perspectives. Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag.

Wilkinson, R. (2006). Documents on Malay subject matter: Complement the aboriginal tribes. Kuala

Lumpur: Federated Malay States Authorities Press.

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