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a group of tribes, including the Semai, Teminar, Jah Hut, Che Wong, Mah Meri, and Ulu Besisi. The Senoi live in the wooded foothills of the Central Range of the Malay Peninsula. Population, approximately 30,000 (1974, estimate). The Senoi language belongs to the Mon-Khmer family but has been strongly influenced by the Malay language. The Senoi worship various spirits; some have adopted Islam. Their anthropological type (Veddoid) and linguistic and cultural traits indicate that the Senoi belong to the oldest pre-Mongoloid stratum of the population of Southeast Asia. Present-day Senoi have largely been assimilated into Malay society. Principal occupations include slash-and-burn farming, hunting with blowguns, fishing, and gathering. Vestiges of the matrilineal clan system are strong among the Senoi.
REFERENCENarody lugo-Vostochnoi Azii. Moscow, 1966.
The remnants of the Senoi, a people that was largely destroyed during World War II by the Japanese forces, live in the mountainous central area of mainland Malaysia. They are part Indonesian and are related to the highlanders of Indochina and Burma. The Senoi have been well known for their dream control techniques and their dream theory.
According to the Senoi, the two most important psychic elements—one localized behind the center of the forehead, the other focused in the pupil of the eye—explain dream experiences in that they are able to leave the body when a person is asleep or in a trance. Ruwaay, the soul at the center of the forehead, is considered the more important of the two when it comes to dreaming and is sometimes referred to as the dream-soul. The Senoi regard dreams as the experiences these souls have when they encounter other souls that may belong to animals, trees, waterfalls, people, or supernaturals.
In Senoi culture dreams are very important because they can inform people about particular events. For example, it is claimed that they can predict the weather. Also, they are fundamental in communications with the supernatural world, and they play a significant role in healing ceremonies. The Senoi distinguish between insignificant dreams and important dreams, and they often deny that upsetting dreams reflect their own desires. The Senoi are taught how to attain dream lucidity and dream control in order to be able to deal directly at the unconscious level with potential conflicts that might be dangerous in everyday life.
Dream interpretation constitutes a mainstay of the education of children and is common knowledge among Senoi adults. It is a fundamental topic of conversation in everyday life, as the Senoi claim that everything in a dream has a purpose beyond one’s understanding when asleep.
Children, whose minds are considered able to adjust inner tension states, are given social recognition for discovering what might be called an “anxiety-motivated psychic reaction to dreams.” Anxiety is regarded as an important element in that it blocks the free play of creative activity to which dreams could give rise. Through Senoi interpretation, the dream is given a particular force that is felt by the child as a power that can be controlled and directed. According to Senoi, children should make decisions during the night as well as during the day by assuming a responsible attitude toward all psychic forces and by expressing and thinking upon psychic reactions.