Blowpipe And The Poison Darts History Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
On the lecture’s time, Mr. Zamri had let us see five tribes that acted by the Bruce Parry. There are ANUTA tribe, PENAN tribe, ADI tribe, BABONGO tribe and others. After watching all of the tribe, I would like to make a review of one tribe is the PENAN tribe. Before I start my review, I will briefly introduce about the character of Bruce Parry. He is an activist that venture into most remote area of Sarawak state in Malaysian Borneo. He joins them in their daily life for few months to learn from them about their culture and find out changing in their society. He also believes that the only ways to knows more about the culture of anthropology and knowledge for a tribe is to have a participant observation in his fieldwork. Participant observations mean that living within a given culture for an extended period of time, and take part in its cultural daily life in all its richness and diversity.
According to Bruce Parry, tribe is about looking at the way other people live and asking questions about the way they live. It is also about the global environmental and cultural threats that we know exist but that we don’t know what best to do about. “Tribe is also about how indigenous communities round the world are under threat from disease, human rights abuse, water and land rights and marginalisation from nation states and corporations.”
The Penan is a nomadic aborigine that roamed on the land of Sarawak Bumi Kenyalang and some other parts on Brunei Seri Begawan. In their society, the natives are highly developed in an egalitarian society and little gender division. It means that there are no social classes or hierarchies, no wealth or poverty, and all food is shared. For instance, the man and women will share the chores among them. Such as, gathering the forest product and extracted sago from the sago palms. But they still got some part of chores that dominated by male, for example, hunting in the forest.
The Penan is a group of native that practiced the ritual of “Molong” which means “never take more than necessary.” The Penan natives mostly are work as nomadic hunter-gatherers. The present of Penans are consisted with settled, semi-nomadic and total nomadic communities that fully reliant to the forest products. Nowadays, the number of Penan had officially stated approximate to 10,000 people and around 350-500 of them are nomadic that scattered over Ulu Baram, Limbang, Tutoh and Lawas of Sarawak. The nomadic of Penan usually moves in group that consisted approximately 40 people included children and old people. They do not stayed for a long time in a particular place. Once the resources at the place that they stayed became fewer, they will choose other suitable places and moved again.
(Figures retrieved from: http://www.survival-international.org)
For the nomadic people who lived in the forest rely much on their traditional diet-Sago. This traditional diet-Sago is starch from the Sago palm and while only males go for hunting, men, women, and children all will help in the production of sago. The sago palm is a fast growing tree whose pithy trunk is loaded with starch. (Nomads of the Dawn: The Penan of the Borneo Rainforest, Wade Davis, Ian Mackenzie, Shane Kennedy, pomegranate Artbooks, 1995) Once the sago palm become matured and fully grown, they will harvest the largest of trunks, carefully preserving the smaller shoots for the future harvests. After that, the leader will make sure an amount of sago starched is enough for each family and kept adequately for their supply.
When there are no more sago palm can be harvest until they are ran out of food, they will also preys on wild animals to balanced their dietary protein by hunting and fishing. The nomadic Penan will hunt and eat wide variety of wild animals, such as birds, monkeys, lizards, and barking deer. But the most prized game animal is the bearded pig. Sometimes they will hunt these animals with weighing more than a hundred kilos and these animals can supply enough meat to feed a nomadic group for several days.
Blowpipe and the poison darts:
The traditional hunting weapon of the Penan is the blowpipe or keleput. A marvel of indigenous technology made with bilian wood and carved out with a bone drill. A blowpipe is lighter and more accurate than a shotgun. It is because the darts can kill wild animals silently, it also allowing a hunter in certain instances to drop several animals, to take a second shot when the first miss. The darts that they used are dipped in a poison called tajem, prepared from the latex of a certain tree. This poison of tajem will interferes with the functioning of the heart and it may cause lethal arrhythmias. While small creatures such as birds die almost instantly from the effect of the poison, large animals like pig may live for many minutes before finally succumbing. During this time, the hunters can quietly to tracks the dying animal.
(Nomads of the Dawn: The Penan of the Borneo Rainforest, Wade Davis, Ian Mackenzie, Shane Kennedy, pomegranate Artbooks, 1995)
Besides that, I would to discuss about the culture change of the nomadic Penan. According to Bilton T, Bonnet K and the scholars, culture is learned behavior in any particular society includes those ideas, techniques and habits which are passed on by one generation to another generation in a sense. The nomadic Penan move in groups and they have their own clan territories. The groups are consisted of a family of five or six members and some family even consisted of 30 people. When their sago supplies are exhausted, they will leave their old selap (huts) and move to another patch of forest where a fresh camp that is established.
(Introductory Sociology: 2nd edition, Bilton T, Bonnet K, Jones P, Stanworth M, Sheard K and Webster A. 1987. Mackays of Chatham PLC, Kent)
The Penan natives’ possessions are few and everything is carried in simple with a strong backpacks made from rattan. Even small children have packs to carry. Selap are made from thick poles tied together with rattan strips. Every family has one hut for living and a smaller one for sleeping. The majority of the roofs are tarpaulins and there are seldom roof made by giant palm leaves. The floors are four feet off the ground and above a hearth of mud are two wooden racks for storing cooking equipment and drying fire wood.
According to Barbara Marliene S. & Mary Ann A. Schwartz (2006), Social change was defined as the time when external events happened, such as war and conquest and culture contact and diffusion, or environmental factors or internal events, such as innovations, invention and population shifts.
Nowadays, the nomadic of Penan people still using traditional blowpipes to hunt although fewer of them got shotgun. It is because the price of the shotgun is very expensive and they need permits to get the shotgun. They can change the blowpipes to shotgun for their hunting but they can’t, because the price of each shotgun is too expensive for them. In addition, they need high skill to use blowpipes to hunt. Sometimes they may fail to hunt with the blowpipes. Besides that, they also must quickly be seasoned with the new places. It is because after the sago palm of that place become fewer, they will decide move to another suitable places. As we can see they gained social change of changing in their life style.
The result of social change among the Penan is remaining negative in terms of the government perspective. In the end the Penan chose to fight. For example, many blockades were set up in attempt to stop logging operations on their land. Unfortunately, the efforts were hard to carry on and the situation turns bad with vast scale of clashes between the indigenous community and the state supported logging company. For example, SamLing Corporation, lead by CEO Yew Chee Ming, COO James Ho Yam Kong. In association with the honorable chief minister’s privilege company known as STIDC. The Malaysian Timber Certificate Council (MTCC) had granted the companies with a logging concession. It is mean that they have the power to log even on the land that traditionally inhabited by the aborigines of Sarawak.
Apart from the reason of culture diffusion, the social change that happened among the Penan was due to the cause of demographic trends. That is to say every birth, death, and migration rates can affect the size and composition of a population, which in turn, can have a major impact on a society. Barbara Marliene Scott & Mary Ann A. Schwartz (2006). For example, scarcity of food and contamination of environment.
On the other hand, we know that the member in the group is keep decreasing due to migration. Migration refers to the movement of people into or out of a geographical area (Barbara S & Mary A, 2006). Many youngsters who grew up in the nomadic group choose to move out from the community and headed to the life style in the city. The birth rate in the group becomes fewer as the young people rather choose a spouse from the city than they own people that stayed in the group. As time passes, only old generation and some few young people will stay on. Eventually, their group will turn out to be a smaller group and perhaps faded away.
According to Wallerstein (1991), development simply means “more”, which is a capitalist definition referring to the accumulation of wealth.
The Malaysia Sarawak state government does not recognize the Penan’s rights to their land. Since the 1970s, it has backed large-scale commercial logging on tribal land across Sarawak. In 1987, many Penan communities try to protested against their land being logging by blockading the road cut through the forest by the logging companies. The government promise them with a good place to stayed but they usually not suit for the new house because of changing in social and their lifestyle. They finally end up with head back against to the forest that they live. Along with the Real GDP ( gross domestic production ) growth in Malaysia since the year of 1999 to 2007 had improved in great percentage, Malaysia government had put a lots of affords on the timber industry in Sarawak district. Sarawak was blessed with lots of valuable trees. The government puts a strong emphasis on the processing timber that can maximize the local profits. It is believe vital to keep up with the large demand from Japan, India and the Far East countries.
According to the video, after the big trees were removed, the secondary bushy forest will take over the naked forest bed. Meat becomes hard to track and fruits that used to be bountiful become less abundant. The Penan people is facing a difficulties in collecting and hunting their food. Opposition from both the settled and nomads were ferocious. The government faced a hard time from those aborigines. The Sarawak government had often stated to bring upon the issue and promised to offer development to the Penan.
As we can see the government that just see for the profit that they can gain and did not care feeling of these penan tribe although some of the people accept it, but until nowadays still got many Penan people reject the government policies on logging again their forest. The logging of the primer forest bring many disaster to the Penan tribe. On the other hand, the Penan had lost faith in their government as more and more bulldozers driven through their forest. I think government should prepare a policies that accept by them by promising giving a development from all site not only prepare the place for them to stay but also need to heard what they want and respect to their decision. For example, job and education being provide for them to ensure that they can live on new society.
Anyway, The penan tribe need to make a choice on stand still on their principle and let the deforestation continued or just accept what government had offer and worked in tandem to prevail social harmony and peace. It is a hard decision to make for them, there are too many valuable things will have forgone and ultimately became memory.
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