June 27, 2013

0702 MALAYSIA - An Orang Asli playing the nose flute

Orang Asli ("original people" or "first people" in Malay) are the indigenous minority peoples of Peninsular Malaysia. Actually it is a collective term introduced by anthropologists and administrators for the 18 sub-ethnic groups generally classified for official purposes under three main groups according to their different languages and customs: Negrito, Senoi and Proto-Malay. They number about 150,000, representing a mere 0.5 per cent of the national population. They retained much of their identity to the present day because of their relative isolation from the other communities and the forces of change.

Slave raids into Orang Asli settlements were not an uncommon feature in the 18th and 19th centuries. All the adult men were killed, being preffered the women and the children, because were 'easier to tame.' Neither the British administrators did nothing to prevent slavery, which practically continued even into the 20th century. Many elders still remember this sad period of their history. In the last years, in the eyes of the government, Orang Asli are in the wrong time and place, so they should be assimilated and transformed into Malay Muslims.

The nose flute is a musical instrument used in Polynesia and the Pacific Rim countries, but also, in other versions, in Africa, China, and India. Actually, under the general name of "nose flute" there are many instruments of different material, construction, size, and shape. I think that the one from the postcard is a pensol, used by Semang, a Negrito ethnic group. The pensol is a very thin and quiet instrument. It is unique from other Malaysian nose flutes, in that the last hole is very close to the end of the instrument thereby making the first interval a minor second.


About the stamp

The stamp, issued in 2012, depict the Cheng Hoon Teng temple, a Chinese temple practicing the Three Doctrinal Systems of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism located in Tokong, Malacca Town. It's the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia.

The Orang Asli of Peninsular Malaysia - by Colin Nicholas
The Orang Asli of Malaysia - Indigenous Peoples Movements website
The Semang Group of Orang Asli - by Dr Alias Abd Ghani

sender: Lai Kee Huong (direct swap)
sent from Miri (Sarawak / Malaysia), on 28.11.2012

1 comment:

  1. it is possible so to play - I didn't see yet!!! It is incredible ;)