Orang Laut


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Orang Laut

 

(Malay, “people of the sea”), the collective name for tribal groups such as the Bajau, Illanuns, Suluks, Obians, Sekah, Pesukuan, and Barok, who live at the estuaries of rivers on the coasts of Kalimantan, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and other islands of the Malay Archipelago. Some Orang Laut move frequently from island to island; as a rule, they live in boats. They number about 120,000 (1970, estimate). They speak various languages that are close to Malay. Most of them retain tribal beliefs; some have adopted Islam. Their main occupation is fishing.

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Doing this enables the authors not only to draw attention to the common characteristics to be discerned within the zones but also, and again, to bring out the historical roles of the "upland" peoples, such as the Bataks and the Igorots, and the coastal peoples, such as the Orang Laut and the Sama Bajau.
They are called Sama Abaknon in Western Samar, Sissano in Papua New Guinea, Orang Laut in northern Indonesia, Singapore and mainland Malaysia; and Bajaw in Maluku (Indonesia) and beyond territorial waters of Indonesia.
These documents also reveal valuable information on contemporary weapons, money, precious stones, local kingdoms, orang laut, and most importantly, an account of the port of Singapore, which is mentioned as one of the best in the East, a thriving port rather than the 'backwater' it was misleadingly described as later by Stamford Raffles.
The place remained inhabited during the following two centuries, but during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was almost completely abandoned and visited occasionally by the sea nomads Orang Laut from Riau.
In chapters six and seven, "The Orang Laut and the Malayu" and "The Orang Asli/Suku Terasing and the Malayu," Andaya argues that ethnicization arose from their highly valued roles to the Malayu rulers as defenders of the jungle and sea routes and as suppliers of sea and forest resources, including such exotic items as "dragon's blood," a red dye, and bezoar stone, "a concretion in the stomach of certain animals," used for medicinal purposes (221).
While the orang laut disappeared, their counterparts, living in the interior, are known as the orang asli.
Du point de vue de l'utilisation des ressources naturelles, les Moken s'apparentent aux chasseurs-cueilleurs, alors que les Bajau Laut et les Orang Laut, avec leur economie specialisee, s'en demarquent considerablement.
Chapters Six and Seven examine the changing relationship between the Malayu and the Orang Laut and Orang Asli.
Local and international polities have reacted variously: by patrols with steam gunboats (Britain), attacking native craft and the ports of origin (nineteenth-century Spain), replacing local rulers dubbed 'piratical' (the fifteenth-century Chinese Admiral Zheng He), or integrating the 'piratical' orang laut of the straits into their own security apparatus (Srivijaya, and the Malacca sultanate).
By the 1830s his name appears in both Dutch and Malay sources in connection with joint efforts to stamp out piracy; as Orang Kaya Muda (a member of the elite), he was also in charge of the orang laut, or sea peoples.
The concluding chapter looks at Bajau in relation to other major, but linguistically and culturally distinct, sea-nomads in archipelagic southeast Asia: the Mergui and the Orang Laut.
These people include the Temuan of Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Melaka, the Jakun or Orang Hulu of Johor and southern Pahang, and congeries of semi-nomadic coastal peoples, loosely classified as Orang Laut.