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Semai Culture

  • Date Submitted: 08/20/2011 11:40 AM
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The Semai Culture

ANT101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

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In the central mountains of the Malay Peninsula, Malaysia, Southeast Asia lives over 40,000 horticulturalists, bearing a gift economy. The Semai, an Orang Asli Society is known for their strong non-violent way of living. This bilateral descent culture, looks at the man and woman as being “equals”.   Their main economic activities include hunting and farming; as their economic organization consists of small camps on high mountain slopes, cultivating wet rice. In this research paper I should further your knowledge of this unique and proud culture as I explain how the Semai live, and raise their children. I will analyze the impact that this cultures primary mode of subsistence has on their beliefs, gender relations, and economic organization. As you continue to read, you will get a better understanding of this special culture and their unique place in the history of the world.
The Semai's direct source of revenue has evolved into a diverse system of shifting cultivation, hunting trading forest goods, and arboriculture. The Semai main economic activities include hunting and farming. These societies live in small, isolated camps at a high altitude on mountain slopes.   They live in villages that are built with wood, weaved balls, or bamboo with thatched roofs using palm leaves. Inside the Semai houses are no visible bedrooms, and the children usually sleep in the main hall. The only form of “separation” for the rooms is a wooden beaded curtain that hangs in the parent’s chambers. There are no locks to prevent unwanted entry; instead the curtains are drawn down to prevent entry.
The Semai subsist on the cultivation on mountain rice, maize, and millet. However some of the Semai people, who are relatively adapted to the Malay society, live even lower down the mountains, cultivating wet rice as well as mountain rice. When rice becomes scarce the Semai use roasted or boiled...


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