The name "Orang Asli" means "original people"
or "first people". They all live on the Peninsular of Malaysia.
Nowadays there about 60.000 Orang Asli people, of which 60% still live in the
rain forest. About 40% Orang Asli live along or near the coast. Each has its own language and culture, and perceives itself as different from
the others. Linguistically, some of the northern Orang Asli groups speak languages,
that suggest a historical link with the indigenous peoples in Burma, Thailand and Indo-China.
They are classified into three groups:
- Orang Malayu Asli
As I said, there's a lot of difference between those groups. The name
"Negrito" suggest, that these people come from Papua New Guinea or
East Africa. They also have dark-skinned and frizzy-hair. Other groups of the
Orang Asli are more light-skinned and have straight hair.
The Negrito's live in the North and North East of the Peninsular and mostly
they live in the jungle. They are the semi-nomadic tribes of the Orang Asli.
Only a few of them also live in urban areas and are engaged in both waged and salaried jobs.
It is thought that the Negrito's arrived in Malaya 8,000 years ago. Their forefathers were also hunters and gatherers who lived in caves and rock
shelters. They knew the use of fire and cooked their food with the aid of crude instruments
made from stone. They hunt for food and gather fruits as well as forest products for medical
Many Senoi live in the Cameron Highlands. They
just look like a real Malaysians, although the dark ones look like Negrito's.
Originally they must have come from the hills in Vietnam, Cambodia or Northern
Thailand, about 6000 - 8000 years ago
In the highlands the Senoi live as wage-earners, working
on the highland tea estates. Others you can see in the
streets of Kuala Lumpur in jeans and a T-shirt. They have obtained jobs as
varied as government employees and taxi drivers
When you have left the highway you'll see a
sign with "Orang Asli" village on it.
The Orang Asli ( mostly Negrito),who live in
the jungle, hunt with blowpipes for birds and little monkeys. The blowpipe is
made from bamboo. The mouth piece is made from damar, a resin obtained from the dipterocarp trees.
Darts are made from the split leaf-stalks of Arenga palm cone is made of light weight pitch and the tip is coated with a lethal preparation made from the sap of the
lpol tree (Antiaris toxicaria) and carried in a carefully closed bamboo tube. As for the
windage, a soft
fluffy "wool' is made from as kind of bark. Blowpipe is deadly accurate within 20
Fear of the spirits of dead ancestors and hunted animals is very strong amongst them, and it is
an unwritten law that all animals caught, in the forest should suffer no pain.
The Orang Asli live in small tribes in the
jungle. The tribe we visited had about 10 houses. They were made from leaves (te
roof) and the floor was made of wood. They didn't live far from the river.
They always remain living in a place, untill something happens, like a death
or severe illness. Then they move to another place. The chief, every tribe has
one, decides whether they will move. Building a house takes about two or three
The government built for the tribe we visited long wooden houses. They lived a
few days in it and then they decided to move back into the jungle. They never
returned to their government houses.
You can read the site of our visit at: Taman