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(1845)Expand All +
Belief +

Supernatural Beings

Nature Spirits Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Nature god(s) Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Ancestral spirits Present, but not a major focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Deified ancestor(s) Present, and the principal focus of supernatural practice (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
God(s) Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)

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 One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
The actions of others after one has died can affect the nature of one's afterlife One factor in determining one's afterlife (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 31-32
Myth of humanity’s creation Absent (Source)
White (1922), pp. 141-143
Primordial pair Absent (Source)
White (1922), pp. 141-143
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 spiritual or religious concept Absent (Source)
Blust (2007)
Keesing (1984)
Blevins (2008), pp. 261-263
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)
Practice +

General Supernatural Practices

Headhunting Absent (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Anderson (1890)
Costly sacrifices and offerings Present (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 232, 232-233
Anderson (1890), pp. 31-32
Largest religious community Larger than a local community, smaller than the society (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Political and religious differentiation Considerable overlap between religious and political leaders (Source)
Ivanoff (1992), pp. 103-105

Rites

Tooth pulling Absent from culture (Source)
White (1922), pp. 199-239
Scarification Absent from culture (Source)
White (1922), pp. 48f, 64f, 200f, 232f, 240f
Piercing Present in culture, but not as a rite or feature of a rite (Source)
White (1922), pp. 199-239, 200f
Tattooing Absent from culture (Source)
White (1922), pp. 48f, 64f, 200f, 232f, 240f
Genital cutting Absent from culture (Source)
White (1922), pp. 199-239
Social Environment +
Population 1000 (Source)
White (1922), pp. 168-198
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
Anderson (1890), pp. 29
Marital residence Patrilocal or virilocal - with husband's kin (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 232

Conflict

(No) external warfare Frequent, occurring at least yearly (Source)
Anderson (1890)
White (1922), pp. 57-58
Conflict within community Low (Source)
Anderson (1890)
Nowak (1993)
(No) internal warfare Rare or never (Source)
Anderson (1890)
Nowak (1993)
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 nearest continent 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 Evidence of influence (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 16
Islamic influence on supernatural belief Evidence of influence (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Christian influence on supernatural belief No evidence of influence but in a region where contact is likely (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 9, 17-18
Subsistence and Economy +

Land-based means of subsistence

Animal husbandry as a source of food Minor (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 3, 6
Land-based hunting performed by individuals Minor (Source)
Anderson (1890)
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)
Agriculture / Horticulture Minor (Source)
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Anderson (1890)

Water-based means of subsistence

Fishing and water-based hunting performed by one or more groups Minor (Source)
White (1922), pp. 110-111
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Fishing and water-based hunting performed by individuals Major (Source)
White (1922), pp. 110-111
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Water-based gathering Major (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 6, 7
White (1922), pp. 111-110
Nowak (1993), pp. 231

Commercial Activity

Trade / wage labour as a source of food Principal (Source)
Anderson (1890)
Nowak (1993), pp. 231
Metalworking Present (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 19-20
Physical Environment +

Geographical Range of Culture

Number of islands inhabited by culture Four or more (Source)
Anderson (1890), pp. 8

Features of Island with Largest Culture Population

Island type (island with largest culture population or largest island if unknown) Continental island (Source)
Meijard (2003), pp. 1252
Island Size (km²) 268.0 (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Daft Logic Area Calculator (2014)

Location

Latitude 11.7 (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Daft Logic Area Calculator (2014)
Google Maps (2014)
Longitude 98.3 (Source)
Ivanoff (1992)
Daft Logic Area Calculator (2014)
Google Maps (2014)
Post Contact History(1845-2014)Expand All +
Religious History +

Conversion

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

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

Brunton, R. (1989). The Abandoned Narcotic: Kava and Cultural Instability in Melanesia. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Daft Logic Area Calculator. (2014). Retrieved from: http://www.daftlogic.com/projects-google-maps-area-calculator-tool.htm.

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

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.

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. 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.