(redirected from Malayan Peoples)
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) Formerly, the name given to the peoples of Southeast Asia who speak languages of the Indonesian group of the Malayo-Polynesian language family.

(2) A group of peoples of Southeast Asia linked by common descent, a common language, and many cultural features. The Malays are divided into the Malays proper (more than 5 million, 1970 estimate), who live primarily in Malaysia and Singapore, and various Malay-speaking peoples (7.5 million), who live primarily in Indonesia. The Malay language comprises several dialects. The dialect of the Riau (Riouw) and Lingga archipelagoes forms the basis of literary Malay, now the official language of Malaysia. Since the late 15th century the official religion of most Malays has been Islam, which they combine with survivals of ancient animist beliefs and elements of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Anthropologically, the Malays belong to various groups of southern Mongoloids mixed with Indo-Oceanic (Australoid) equatorial races. The Malays’ self-designation, Orang Melayu (literally, Malayan people), derives from the ancient name of a tribal group inhabiting the Padang Plateau on Sumatra. Early in the first millennium A.D. the ancestors of the Malays began to migrate northeastward from the Padang Plateau, settling the Malay Peninsula and later the eastern coast of Sumatra, the Riau (Riouw) and Lingga archipelagoes, Kalimantan, and other islands of Indonesia.

The majority of Malays are engaged in agriculture, chiefly rice cultivation. Many Malays work on plantations owned by foreign (mainly British) and local capitalists that grow hevea and other rubber trees, coconut palms, sugarcane, coffee, cinchona, and pineapples. Marine and fresh-water fishing is important, as well as shipping on praus, the distinctive Malayan decked sailing boats. Some Malays work in industry, chiefly tin mines, oil fields, and textile, food, and other, mostly small, enterprises. Traditional handicrafts include the making of bamboo implements, wickerwork, pottery, wood carving, and artistic metalwork and textile weaving. Various forms of applied and decorative art, oral poetry, music, dance, and theater are highly developed. There is a rich artistic, scientific, and political literature in the Malay language, written in the Latin alphabet.


Narody Iugo- Vostochnoi Azii. Moscow, 1966.
Demin, L. M. Malaiziia ekzoticheskaia i budnichnaia. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The team engaged in diffusing hostilities between the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) and collaborators as well as maintaining control of the Japanese and warding off bandits until an Indian Army detachment arrived on September 9/10.
Not surprisingly the Chinese, led by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), became the backbone of the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), which with British assistance became the most effective resistance force in the occupied Asian countries.
The MCP retreated to the jungle and formed the Malayan Peoples' Liberation Army (MPLA) which eventually numbered about 13,000 men under arms, all Chinese.
The British Army, the Indian (British) Army, the Imperial Japanese Army and the Indian National Army were joined by the Chinese Nationalist Army, the Burma Defence Army, the Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army, the Overseas Chinese Anti-Japanese Army and a good number of local defence militias, levies and forces, in this sprawling battle for control.
While some Malayan civil servants and intellectuals cooperated with the Japanese, the predominantly Chinese Malaysian Communist Party (MCP) formed the Malayan Peoples' Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA) which became an effective guerilla force, tying down thousands of Japanese troops until 1945.
The MCP retreated to the jungle and formed the Malayan Peoples' Liberation Army (MPLA), with about 13,000 men under arms, all Chinese.