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: