Unmasking the ‘Mah Meri’

My first encounter with local aboriginal tribes in Malaysia was in Kuala Kubu Bharu, Selangor. I had been assigned by my which I was assignment to speak to the local Temuan tribesmen and women. The women were decked out in traditional clothes and had a unique application of make-up on their faces.

They were excited to see the media at their doorstep (not sure if this had anything to do with the make-up) and welcomed us with shy smiles, but quickly warmed up after which our questions were answered with a little nudge or tap on our arms, and I even a pinch of my belly at one point.

I’ve met with many aboriginal groups after that but most of this was to cover issues that affected them like their land being taken over to build dams, development, logging, the loss of their hunting grounds and source of livelihood etc.

Working on a tight deadline, I had to focus on the issue at had, but wish I had more time to explore and learn about their cultures. I’m going to do just that once the Movement Control Order (MCO) ends starting with the Mah Meri Cultural Village in Kuala Langat that features the culture and lifestyle of indigenous tribe in Selangor.

Orignially seafarers, this community is believed to have moved from island around Johor to the costal areas of Selangor.

Also known as the ‘Masked Men of Malaysia, this aborigine group is famous for their woodcarvings which are based on their animist beliefs and ‘moyang’ (spirit traditions). These are spirits which are believed to be protectors of the community.

The main festival of ‘Hari Moyang’ or Spirits Day celebrated by the community does not have a specific date but is celebrated based on the date given by the ‘moyang’ to elders in the community via dreams.

The Mah Meri (which translated to jungle people) speak ‘Besisi’ an endangered language spoken by an estimated 3,000 people.

More on the Mah Meri Cultural Village in Kuala Langat at: http://mmcv.org.my/web/about-us/

More on sites to visit in Kuala Langat at:

Food Trail: Seaside Sojourn

Sunset: Morib Beach


Mah Meri traditional mask and costume. Pix: visitselangor.com

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Nice knowing about this unique tribe. Their face masks are certainly something that I hadn’t come across before. I hope they either get their land back or are reimbursed with something equivalent to the value of their lands. I hope to experience their culture once in my lifetime. You have a very informative blog. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Best wishes from The Strong Traveller and have a great day.

    Do have a look at my blog whenever you find the time. There are some travel and lifestyle content which you may find interesting. Your thoughts will surely be very valuable. Stay connected. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting my site and for the comments😊
      There is a lot to learn about our aborigine groups here in Malaysia. Very little is known about their culture, traditions and customs.
      I’m planning to write more about this.
      Will definitely check out your blog once I’m done with my Mandarin class later. Regards.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your blog and have followed your Instagram site too which has some really amazing photos. Stay in touch.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Panda says:

    Wow, amazing photos! Love to read about cultures in other countries.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Hope you’ll get to visit Malaysia soon. We’ll all be travelling domestically for a while more I suppose. Its nice to discover new spots in our own backyard 😊

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.