Sunday, January 13, 2008

Legend of the Origin of the Negritos

Once upon a time the king of the Mawas (Hylobates - gibbon) monkeys fought with the king of the Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus - black furred gibbon native to the forests of Malaysia, Thailand, and Sumatra) monkeys in the country where our ancestors lived. Our ancestors ran away from the place, being frightened by the war, and hid themselves in a plain covered with lalang grass. The king of the Mawas beat the king of the Siamang, and the latter, with his people, ran away and hid in the same plain as our ancestors. The king of the Mawas came and set fire to the grass, and the king of the Siamang and his followers fled and crossed the Perak River. Our ancestors did not run away, having hidden themselves in porcupine burrows , in order to escape from the fire. In spite of this, the fire reached them, and singed their hair, and this is the reason why we, their descendants, have curly hair to the present day.
The ancestors of the Malays, when the war arose, ran away down-stream carrying a rice-spoon with them, and that is why the Malays use a spoon in cooking their rice.
Our ancestors ran away up-stream carrying a pointed stick; and that is the reason why we still use a stick for digging tubers in the jungle.

Evans, Ivor H. N. 1970. Studies in Religion, Folk-Lore, & Custom in British Borneo and the Malay Peninsula. Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. Cambridge University Press. P. 134-135 (First published in 1923)(p. 146)

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