Current peoples and cultures. – The most ancient layer among the present-day residents of Indonesia is formed by the remains of two races of short stature, the Negritos (Aeta) with frizzy hair, in the Philippines (see negritos), and the Veddoids with wavy or curly hair that in the Indonesia almost everywhere became absorbed in the mixtures of Malay peoples. The latter have occupied all the island lands of Indonesia since the earliest historical times. Their languages, compared to the analogous languages of Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia, form a unit designated as “Indonesian” (see maleo – Polynesian, languages) which has retained possession of only one region of the continent: the southern part of the annamic chain (v.Indochina); the Malaysians of the Malacca Peninsula are instead the result of an ancient immigration from Sumatra. The current distribution of the culture makes it possible to distinguish three layers or groups of populations in Indonesia: the primitives, hunters and gatherers, occasionally even fishermen; the Paleo-Indonesians, or Indonesians in the narrow sense, farmers with the hoe, who today are generally found limited in the interior of the islands; the Neo-Indonesians, or Malaysians, who especially under the Indian influence have achieved a notable civilization, a great development of nautical art and a remarkable capacity for political organization. Such a political and cultural superiority made it possible for these peoples to extend beyond their original territory. For Indonesia culture and traditions, please check animalerts.com.
The primitives. – The Orang Benua of the Riouw Archipelago, some small groups of Sumatra, especially the Kubu, belong to the tribes that are still at the level of hunters and gatherers, or that have adopted relatively recently the farming system of their neighbors, the Orang Benua of the Riouw Archipelago, some small groups of Sumatra, especially the Kubu, the Toala and Tokea of Celebes, the Mangyan and Tagbanua of the Philippines, and the Punan with other similar groups of Borneo. A particular position belongs to the Orang Laut (“people of the sea”), peoples of fishermen and gatherers who, without a fixed seat on land, roam on boats and rafts; today, however, they have lost much of their primitiveness. Their original homeland was perhaps on the southern coasts of the Malacca Peninsula, from which they extended to the coasts of almost the entire Malay Archipelago. The Mawken (Selon) of the
The most vigorous of the wild peoples of the archipelago are the Punan of Borneo whose number, including the Ukit, Sian, Bukitan, Lugat and Lisum, their next of kin, is estimated at 100,000 individuals. The Punan are very shy and can hardly be met; they live in the mountains of central Borneo, and are found along the upper reaches of all great rivers; sometimes they go to the plain and reach the coast. Some groups have already become sedentary, but mostly they live in small groups of 20 to 30 people, stay some weeks or months in a given place and then move away from it again. They have no crops or pets, but they live on hunting and what the forest offers, especially on wild sago and the fruit of a tree (shorea). They live in crude, low palm-leaf canopies, some even in caves. The man’s clothing is limited to an apron, the woman’s to a small skirt, both made of beaten tree bark. The tattoo is not very popular. All the Punan property consists of some weapons and tools that can easily be carried, especially baskets and mats, the braiding being very developed. Among the weapons, the most important for hunting as well as for warfare is the blowpipe fitted with poisoned arrows, with the tip of the spear secured at the end. Like all metal objects that they eventually possess, the drill, necessary for the manufacture of blowpipes, must have been obtained from the neighbors through exchanges. The manufacture of the boats is completely unknown. Singing and dancing are the Punan’s only amusements; as musical instruments, they know the bamboo zither and a kind of silophone; in hunting they also use bamboo whistles with which they imitate the voice of the deer and some birds. Gang members are generally close relatives of the leader, whose authority is exactly equal to his experience and esteem. Within the horde, harmonious common work and peaceful harmony are maintained, and what individuals kill or collect is shared with the others. Disagreements between the different groups are rare and each gang respects the territory of the others. With the neighboring tribes the Punan know how to impose themselves: any injustice committed against one of them is severely avenged by the gang. The poisoned arrows which from safe shelter they shoot with great precision, they are much feared; for this warrior prowess, punan bands have been hired by some daiake tribes for their headhunts.
Man generally seeks his wife in another horde; the rule is polygamy, but polyandry is found when a woman married to an elderly man cannot have children from him; in fact, the wealth of children is desired and families with 8 or 9 children are not rare. In marriage, it is the man who joins the wife’s horde. Totemism seems to be missing. There is little original in religious concepts; many elements were perhaps taken from neighboring peoples: so the Punan consider the crocodile as a god and call it Bali Penyalong, which is the name of the supreme being among the Daiaki Kenja: sometimes they have an image of a wooden crocodile, which they take with them to each new camp. They too, like their more evolved neighbors, observe the demeanor of some animal-omens, such as the grasshopper, the lizard and the civet. Sorcerers are especially concerned with the healing of diseases; on the other hand, there are no animal sacrifices and intestinal examination as is customary in neighboring tribes. When one member of the gang dies, the others leave the unburied corpse, cover it with leaves and leave the site. The concepts of the afterlife correspond to those of neighboring populations; on the road beyond the soul must cross a bridge at the far end of which sits a “calao rhinoceros”; this with its screams similar to a mocking laugh, tries to frighten the souls so that they fall into the river where they are devoured by a large fish. anima has to cross a bridge at the far end of which sits a “calao rhinoceros”; this with its screams similar to a mocking laugh, tries to frighten the souls so that they fall into the river where they are devoured by a large fish. anima has to cross a bridge at the far end of which sits a “calao rhinoceros”; this with its screams similar to a mocking laugh, tries to frighten the souls so that they fall into the river where they are devoured by a large fish.