Also known as: Mawken; Selung

The Moken, who live in and around the Mergui Archipelago of Burma and Thailand, are one of the ethnic groups of Southeast Asia known as the "sea gypsies." The Moken worshipped their ancestors, as well as believing in a remote high god named Thida.

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Traditional Culture(1820-1845)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 7, 14-15
Hinshiranan (2001), pp. 3
Ivanoff (1992), pp. 112-113
Nature god(s) Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Ancestral spirits Present, and a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Ivanoff (1992), pp. 110-111
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Ivanoff (1992), pp. 110-112
God(s) Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Anderson (1890), pp. 17-18

Supernatural Punishment

Supernatural punishment for impiety Present (Source)
Ivanoff (1992), pp. 105

Afterlife and Creation

One's actions while living can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992), pp. 111-115
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992), pp. 111-115
Culture hero(es) Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)

General Features

Forces of nature are controlled by or imbued with the supernatural Present (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 232

Mana

Mana as a personal quality Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 262-263
Mana related to social influence or technical skill Absent (Source)
Mana as a spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 261-263
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Anderson (1890)
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 232, 232-233
Size of largest ritual social group Larger than the largest political community in the culture (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 232
Political and religious differentiation Some overlap (Source)
Ivanoff (1992), pp. 105
Nowak (1993), pp. 232

Rites

Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
White (1922), pp. 199-239, 200f
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
White (1922), pp. 199-239
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
White (1922), pp. 48f, 64f, 200f, 232f, 240f
Tattooing Absent from culture (Source)
White (1922), pp. 48f, 64f, 200f, 232f, 240f
Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
White (1922), pp. 199-239
Social Environment +
Population 1000 (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 9
Population of largest political community 99 or fewer (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 231, 232
Importance of Patrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 232
Importance of Matrilateral descent Medium (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 232
Polygamy Monogamy preferred, but exceptional cases of polygyny (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 232
Marital residence Patrilocal or virilocal - with husband's kin (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 232

Conflict

Conflict with other cultures Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 1-2, 3-4
Conflict within communities Moderate (Source)
Arunotai (2006), pp. 141
Conflict between communities of the culture Rare or never (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 7
Arunotai (2006), pp. 141
Nowak (1993)
Cultural Isolation +
Contact with other cultures Frequent, through trade, warfare, travel, etc. (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Distance to closest landmass inhabited by a different culture (km) 0.0 (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 230
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Distance to African or Asian mainland (km) 0.0 (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 230
Daft Logic Distance Calculator (2014)
Pre-Austronesian population Present: Clear evidence of human occupation prior to Austronesian settlement (Source)
Bellwood (1995), pp. 109
Hindu / Buddhist influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
White (1922), pp. 30-33
Ivanoff (1992)
Islamic influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
White (1922), pp. 30
Ivanoff (1992)
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 9
Ivanoff (1992)
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 3, 6
Agriculture / Horticulture Minor (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Anderson (1890), pp. 12
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 6
Land-based gathering Medium (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 6-7
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Land-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 6

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Medium (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Water-based gathering Major (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 6, 7
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Anderson (1890), pp. 6, 7

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Principal (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 6, 7, 14
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Four or more (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 230

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Latitude 12.5 (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 230
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 98.4 (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 230
Google Maps (2014)
Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Continental island (Source)
Meijard (2003), pp. 1252
Island Size (km²) 440.0 (Source)
Lynn (2010), pp. 1085
Maximum elevation (meters) 767.0 (Source)
Lynn (2010), pp. 1085
Post Contact History(1845-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

Use of force in conversion Low (Source)
Falk (2013), pp. 44, 45
Maudy (2013)
Resident missionary involvement in conversion process Present, and from non-Austronesian societies (Source)
Falk (2013), pp. 45
Anderson (1890), pp. 17-18
Adoption of a world religion Present and major (Source)
Falk (2013), pp. 44
Maudy (2013)
Secular History +

Demographic and Social Changes

Foreign government systems Present, but of low importance (Source)
Hodal (2012)
Acord (2009)
Foreign education systems Medium (Source)
Hodal (2012)

Economic Changes

Changes in means of subsistence Medium (Source)
Hodal (2012)
Exportation of goods to other cultures Present and substantial (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Hodal (2012)

Modern Infrastructure

Sea port Present (Source)
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009), pp. 156
Hodal (2012)

Loss of Autonomy

Loss of political autonoomy Medium (Source)
Hodal (2012)
Current Culture(2014)Expand All +
Belief +

Religious Demographics

Dominant world religion Hinduism / Buddhism (Source)
Maudy (2013)
Falk (2013), pp. 44, 45
External Links
References
Acord, S. (2009). Yap’s education system combines the old with the new. Journal of the Pacific Circle Consortium for Education, 21(2), 5-15.

Anderson, J. (1890). The Selungs of the Mergui Archipelago. London, England: Trubner & Co.

Arunotai, N. (2006). Moken traditional knowledge: An Unrecognised Form of Natural Resources Management and Conservation. International Social Science Journal, 58 (187), 139-150. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2451.2006.00599.

Bellwood, P. (1995). Austronesian Prehistory in Southeast Asia: Homeland, Expansion and Transformation. P. Bellwood, J.J. Fox, & D. Tryon (Eds.), The Austronesians: Historical and Comparative Perspectives (pp 113-114). Canberra, Australia: ANU Press.

Blevins, J. (2008). Some Comparative Notes on Proto-Oceanic *Mana: Inside and Outside the Austronesian Family. Oceanic Linguistics, 47 (2), 253-274. Retrieved from http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/ol/summary/v047/47.2.blevins.html

Blust, R. (2007). Proto-Oceanic *Mana Revisited. Oceanic Linguistics, 46(2), 404-423. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20172322

Daft Logic Distance Calculator. (2014). http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-distance-calculator.htm.

Falk, M.L. (2013). Thai Buddhists' Encounters with Relief Work in Post-Tsunami Thailand. In Kawanami, H., & Samuel, G. (Eds.), Buddhism, International Relief Work, and Civil Society. New York, Palgrave Macmillan. (27-49). Retrieved from http://books.google.co.nz/books?hl=en&lr=&id=MU-vAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA27&dq=moken+buddhists&ots=f8gD5y7pBd&sig=jkCiS50TBGpnsc1XTtF7DdjAZDY#v=onepage&q=moken%20buddhists&f=false

Google Maps (2014). Retrieved from maps.google.com

Hinshiranan, N. (2001). Kabang: The living boat. Techniques & Culture, (35-36), 499-507

Hodal, K. (September 2012). Moken nomads leave behind their ‘sea gypsy’ life for a modern existence. The Guardian, retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/sep/13/moken-nomads-leave-sea-gypsy-life.

Ivanoff, J. (1992). Equilibre paradoxal: sédentarité et sacralité chez les nomads marins moken. Bulletin de L’Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient, 79(2), 103-130

Keesing, R. M. (1984). Rethinking "mana". Journal of Anthropological Research, 40(1), 137-156, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3629696.

Lynn, K.S. (2010). "Burma (Myanmar)". In Bird, E.C.F. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the World's Coastal Landforms. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer. 1081-1086.

Maudy, J. (June 28, 2013). Among the Moken, the sea gypsies of Myeik. Diversity Magazine, retrieved from http://www.irrawaddy.org/burma/magazine-diversity/among-the-moken-the-sea-gypsies-of-myeik.html

Meijaard, E. (2003). Mammals of South-East Asian Islands and their Late Pleistocene Environments. Journal of Biogeography, 30 (8), 1245-1257. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2699.2003.00890.x

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (2009). World Port Index Nineteenth Edition. Bethesda, MD: National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

Nowak, B.S. (1993). "Selung / Moken". In Hockings, P. (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of World Cultures (Volume V: East and Southeast Asia). New York, NY: G.K. Hall and Co.

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, UK: Seeley, Service, & Co. Limited.