Thailand, Southern Burma
langs= Moken, Thai, Burmese, others
related= The Moken (Thai:ชาวน้ำ also spelled Mawken or Morgan), are an Austronesian
ethnic groupwith about 2,000 to 3,000 members who maintain a nomadic, sea-based culture. They speak their own language which belongs to the Austronesian language family. [Some classifications do not include Moken under the Malayan languages, or even under the Aboriginal Malay group of languages. [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=90287 "Ethnologue report for Moken/Moklen" "Ethnologue"] . Moken is considered a conservative language that has resisted change, preserving many traits from proto-Malay.]
They refer to themselves as Moken. The name is used for all of the proto-Malayan speaking tribes who inhabit the coast and islands in the
Andaman Seaon the west coast of Thailand, the provinces of Satun, Trang, Krabi, Phuket, Phang Nga, and Ranong, up through the Mergui Archipelagoof Burma[http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/environment/going-green-environment/conservation-in-action/this-bulb-ngv.html] (Myanmar). The group includes the Moken proper, the Moklen (Moklem), the Orang Sireh (Betel-leaf people) and the Orang Lanta. The last, the Orang Lanta are a hybridized group formed when the Malay people settled the Lanta islands where the proto-Malay Orang Sireh had been living.
The Burmese call the Moken Selung, Salone, or Chalome. [Anderson, John (1890) "The Selungs of the Mergui Archipelago" Trübner & Co., London, pp. 1-5] In
Thailandthey are called Chao Ley (people of the sea) or Chao nam (people of the water), although these terms are also used loosely to include the Urak Lawoiand even the Orang Laut. In Thailand, acculturated Moken are called Thai Mai (new Thais).
The Moken are also called
Sea Gypsies, a generic term that applies to a number of peoples in southeast Asia. The Urak Lawoiare sometimes classified with the Moken, but they are linguistically and ethnologically distinct, being much more closely related to the Malay people. [ [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=urk Classification of Urak Lawoi language] ] [ [http://www.iucn.org/themes/ceesp/WAMIP/Urak%20Lawoi%20pamphlet.doc "Urak Lawoi of the Adang Archipelago, Tarutao National Marine Park, Satun Province, Thailand" by Dr. Supin Wongbusarakum December 2005] ]
Way of life
Their knowledge of the sea enables them to live off its
faunaand floraby using simple tools such as nets and spears to forage for food. What is not consumed is dried atop their boats, then used to barterfor other necessities at local markets. During the monsoonseason, they build additional boats while occupying temporary huts. Because of the amount of time they spend diving for food, Moken children are able to see better underwater due to accommodation of their visual focus. [Gislén, Anna (May 13, 2003) "Superior Underwater Vision in a Human Population of Sea Gypsies" "Current Biology" 13(10): pp. 833-836;] [ [http://www.projectmaje.org/gypsies.htm#18 Travis, J. (May 17, 2003) "Children of Sea See Clearly Underwater" "Science News" 163(20): pp. 308-309] ;]
Some of the Burmese Moken are still nomadic people who roam the sea most of their lives in small hand-crafted wooden boats called "kabang," which serve not just as transportation, but also as kitchen, bedroom, and living area. However, much of their traditional life, which is built on the premise of life as outsiders, is under threat and appears to be diminishing.
Many Burmese Moken, especially those staying on the mainland on the west coast of the
Malay Peninsula, have intermarried with local Burmese Muslims, Arabs and Indian seamen/traders. They are Muslims, and speak Burmese and a Malay dialect, with some of them holding Burma and Malaysian double citizenship. Fact|date=July 2008
The Burmese and Thai governments have made attempts at assimilating the people into their own culture, but these efforts have met with limited success. Thai Moken have been permanently settled in villages located in the
Surin Islands ( Mu Ko Surin National Park[ [http://www.dnp.go.th/parkreserve/asp/style1/default.asp?npid=202&lg=2 "Mu Ko Surin National Park" National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, Bangkok, Thailand] ;] ), in PhuketProvince, on the northwestern coast of Phuket Island, and on the nearby Phi Phiislands of Krabi province. [Bauerlein, Monika (November 2005) "Sea change: they outsmarted the tsunami, but Thailand's "sea gypsies" could be swept away by an even greater force" "Mother Jones" 30(6): pp. 56-61;]
Andaman Seaoff the Tenasserimcoast was the subject of keen scrutiny from Burma's regime during the 1990s due to offshore petroleumdiscoveries by multinational corporations including Unocal, Petronasand others. Reports from the late 1990s told of forced relocation by Burma's military regimeof the 'Sea Gypsies' to on-land sites. It was claimed most of the Salone had been relocated by 1997, which is consistent with a pervasive pattern of forced relocation of suspect ethnic, economic and political groups, conducted throughout Burma during the 1990s.
2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
The islands where the Moken live received much media attention in 2005 during the Southeast Asia Tsunami recovery, where hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in the disaster. As they are keenly aware of the sea, the Moken in some areas knew the tsunami that struck on
December 26, 2004was coming, [http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/03/18/60minutes/main681558.shtml "Sea Gypsies See Signs In The Waves" "60 Minutes" CBS News, 25 December 2005] ;] and managed to preserve many lives.
However in the coastal villages of
Phang Nga Province, such as Tap Tawan, the Moken suffered severe devastation to housing and fishing boats in common with other Moken communities. [ [http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/photogallery/THfisherfolk.htm Jones, Mark (6 May 2005) "Thailand's fisherfolk rebuild after tsunami" "Reuters"] also from [http://web.archive.org/web/20060523184915/http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/photogallery/THfisherfolk.htm Web Archive] ]
*Bernatzik, H. A., & Ivanoff, J. (2005). "Moken and Semang: 1936-2004, persistence and change". Bangkok: White Lotus. ISBN 9744800828
*Ivanoff, J. (2001). "Rings of coral: Moken folktales". Mergui archipelago project, no. 2. Bangkok, Thailand: White Lotus Press. ISBN 9747534711
*Ivanoff, J. (1999). "The Moken boat: symbolic technology". Bangkok: White Lotus Press. ISBN 9748434907
*Ivanoff, J., Cholmeley, F. N., & Ivanoff, P. (1997). "Moken: sea-gypsies of the Andaman Sea, post-war chronicles". Bangkok: Cheney. ISBN 9748496651
*Lewis, M. B. (1960). "Moken texts and word-list; a provisional interpretation". Federation museums journal, v.4. [Kuala Lumpur] : Museums Dept., Federation of Malaya.
*White, W. G. (1922). "The sea gypsies of Malaya; an account of the nomadic Mawken people of the Mergui Archipelago with a description of their ways of living, customs, habits, boats, occupations, etc". London: Seeley, Service & Co.
*White, W. G. (1911). "An introduction to the Mawken language". Toungoo: S.P.G. Press.
* [http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0504/feature4/ Moken: Sea Gypsies @ National Geographic] (Subscription Required)
* [http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0504/feature4/online_extra.html Moken: Sea Gypsies @ National Geographic] (Tsunami Extra)
* [http://www.phuketmagazine.com/html/Andaman%20Region/Mergui%20Archipelago/The%20Moken-traditional%20sea%20gypsies.htm Phuket Magazine: The Moken - Traditional Sea Gypsies]
* [http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0504/sights_n_sounds/ NationalGeographic.com] - Sea Gypsies
* [http://www.projectmaje.org/gypsies.htm ProjectMaje.org] - Burma "Sea Gypsies" Compendium
* [http://www.mapraid.net/ Mergui Archipelago Project]
* [http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=mwt Ethnologue report for Moken]
* [http://www.xpeditions.be/publication/seagypsies/seagypsies.html The Sea Gypsies of Surin Island ] - (Expeditions, Research in Applied Anthropology)
* [http://www.asiasentinel.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=400&Itemid=34 "The Sea Gypsies of Surin Island" by Antonio Graceffo]
* [http://www.the-andaman-eye.net/Mergui/Moken-people.php Tourist view on the Moken in Burma/Myanmar]
* [http://www.lateral-i.com/moken/ Picture gallery of the Moken of Surin Islands from a Singapore / Thailand documentary expedition]
* [http://60minutes.yahoo.com/segment/126/tsunami Tsunami: The Tale Of The Sea Gypsies / 60 Minutes ]
Sea Gypsies, a disambiguation page
Seafarers, an expanded disambiguation page
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.