15th November 2021 Dr Beena
Hello everyone😊. This beautiful watercolour painting by Mrs Elizabeth Tang is of a Penan girl in her habitat. I thought it would be nice for a change to describe a tribe in Sarawak. I wish to thank Elizabeth for letting me use her painting. By the way, you need special skills to walk on those steps that she is sitting on😉😉.
I learnt a lot about hunter-gatherers in various parts of the world. In North America, they are the Eskimos and North American Indians with South American Indians in the South. Siberia has its Evenki, Ket, Nivkhi, and Itelmen. Japan has its Ainu people, and Madagaskar has the Mikea tribes, while in Kenya, they are called Dorobo peoples. Malaysia has its Negrito groups, and China has its Drung peoples.
Penan is a native tribe that is one of the few hunter-gatherers of the world. Human civilisation began as hunter-gatherers, with eight million in various parts of the Earth 10,000 years ago. They lived an egalitarian lifestyle, sharing whatever was the catch. I hope you remember my musings on the Abenaki tribe. Well, the Abenakis migrated from Asia. Now I am inquisitive. If we do genetic testing, maybe they are all related😊😊.
Being nomads, they are constantly on the move. Hunter-gatherers only spent about 12 to 19 hours per week hunting for food. They had much time socialising that none of the modern illnesses like obesity, hypertension and cancer plagued them😊. If we could socialise more😊, maybe we can live with less stress😊.
Penans also practised “molong”, which means never taking more than necessary”. They are astute hunters using the blowpipe spiked with poisonous latex to kill their prey, usually a wild boar, barking deer, snakes and other wild animals. There are about 16,000 Penans, with 200 of them living a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Due to the pressures of modern living, they had to settle in one place, earn their living and start to develop current day illnesses.
We can learn lessons from these marginalised groups who instinctively knew how to live on Earth without destroying it. They were able to live in a better democratic world and preserve our forests. Our modern-day living would curtail the time this Earth has to sustain life. By relegating these tribes to hostile habitats that are unsuitable, we lose valuable lessons.
I hope I have created some interest in this topic and love to hear from the readers. Till the following musings, stay safe😊.